08 Dr. Sujaya Rao – Contrary Perspective to Native Bee Declines in Agricultural Landscapes: The Willamette Valley Experience


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Today on the podcast talk about bumblebees in agriculture.

Dr. Sujaya Rao is a Professor in Entomology at Oregon State University. Her research covers IPM in field crops and native bee pollinators in diverse cropping systems, and in native habitats. A serendipitous discovery made by her led to development of a new bee monitoring tool.

Dr. Rao has also documented the presence of overwintering sites and nests of bumble bees in agricultural landscapes. Results from her studies on native bee abundance, overwintering and nesting of bumble bees provide evidence that, contrary to the perspective that agricultural landscapes are detrimental to native bee populations, the diversity of cropping systems in western Oregon has enabled native bumble bees to flourish. Dr. Rao is also actively engaged in insect outreach in K-12 classrooms and at public events.

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“Bee behavior is really complex. They may go to a particular flower today, and tomorrow go somewhere else.” – Dr. Sujaya Rao

Show Notes:

  • How Dr. Rao came to work at OSU
  • Why she started working on bees by accident
  • The specifics of the traps used when Dr. Rao trapped bees in field crop study
  • Some of the amazing discoveries made while doing her research
  • Why bee behavior is very complex and what assumptions can’t be made
  • What are some of the hotspots for bees in Oregon
  • Why agriculture in some cases can help bees instead of hurting them
  • Thinking about agriculture from the farmer’s point of view
  • The pollination services that Dr. Rao has observed in Oregon

“We have to think about bee conservation at the landscape level.” – Dr. Sujaya Rao

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