Andony Melathopoulos: [00:00:00] If you're interested in crop pollination, one of the first things you're going to do is go to your local extension office and there'll be some kind of an extension document outlining how many honeybee colonies you'll need per acre to sufficiently stock the field to get full pollination. Now the seam at on first Clients of straightforward proposition.
But as my next guest points out, it's strongly dependent on the landscape where those colonies are being put. Maxine Aras is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environment. In Gate University in Belgium. You will remember him from previous episodes when he was at Washington State University and then at Michigan State University where he was working on a large project.
And we've got a number of podcasts dedicated to this project to come up with a. Pollination planner for blueberry crops so that a grower can look at their field and she or he can determine how many colonies they might need when they need to arrive and really maximize their [00:01:00] profits through pollination.
So in this episode, we're gonna hear about a brand new paper that Maxine published from his work when he was here in North America, looking at how to. Honeybee colonies at the landscape level and why that's important. This week on pollination.
Welcome back to pollination, Dr. Ratz.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah, hello and Denise. Nice to be back. It's uh,
Andony Melathopoulos: You have a wonderful new paper. I'm so excited to to have read it this morning. I was looking through it and in the beginning of the paper it raises these two terms that I think many people who work in ecology and know about.
But I think our listeners may not know about them. The terms are semi-natural habitat. The one term, and the second one is mass flowering crop. Now, can you describe each of these and how have a colleges considered the relationship between them when it comes to managed and wild bees?
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah, thanks that, that's a really good question to start with.
So the first term, [00:02:00] semi-natural habitats. So it's semi-natural. It comes from. Yeah. In, in, in temperate ai temperate climates, most of the habitats in like western Europe in total and also Northern America, and definitely the east part of America has been managed and altered by humans.
So therefore, it's semi-natural and semi-natural habitat is a bulk term for. Every habitat type that's natural and that provides floral resources and nesting resources for bees or other pollinators. And this can be forest extensive natural grasslands sh petros wetlands.
And those marches as well. So this is then semi-natural habitat, and so its something
Andony Melathopoulos: that's not currently under cultivation. I imagine that's maybe one way to about it, yes. Okay.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yes. So no [00:03:00] pesticides, no fertilizers. It can be managed, for instance, for timber or grazing, extensive grazing hunting, et cetera.
But it's mainly that it's considered as, as natural or semi-natural. Okay.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay. I can imagine. I'm just thinking, in my mind I'm looking at a blueberry field and there may be like a little in the corner there's a wet spot and they've left the, the prunes, the shrubs and everything grow and maybe there's a quarter of an acre in the corner there.
, that, that's what you're talking about.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. And also bigger parts, but also the it goes from very small patches to really big habitat batch. And indeed in agricultural landscapes you often find these little patches of yeah. Shrub lands and wetlands and creeks.
Andony Melathopoulos: And what about this other category? So if that's one thing, semi-natural habitat, all of those things, it encompasses all of those kinds of landscapes. What's a mass flowering crop? Yeah.
Maxime Eeaerts: Mass flowering crops. A type of crop [00:04:00] that's provides flowers for that, that are of interests for bees and other pollinators because they can find food, air nectar and pollen.
And yeah, the mass part of the term comes from the fact that, for instance, in blueberry, but also in apple and oic, grape, the flowers, they come and go and when. Are there in, in, in the blooming period, it's like a massive amount of flour. So it's a massive abundance of floor resources.
And we contrast this with crops that do not provide these resources. Like more forage crops or
Andony Melathopoulos: Oh, I was thinking here in the Pacific Northwest, when we think of like grass seed as a, yeah a mass crop, but not a flowering. Yeah,
Maxime Eeaerts: indeed. It has flowers, of course. Yeah. That they're not of interest for bees.
So the mos flowering crop definitely is is a term that, that's very much comes from orator research. At least as far as I know. .
Andony Melathopoulos: And so how do [00:05:00] ecologist think about the relationship between these two when it comes to bees, either maybe managed or wild bees? What, why or have they not really thought about these two things in concert?
Tell us a
Maxime Eeaerts: little bit about that. Yeah, for, definitely for the wild bees there has, there have been a lot of studies that look at semi-natural habitat and see. Both composition, so more or less semi-natural habitat, but also the configuration. So smaller patches, bigger patches will more well connected patches with less well connected patches.
And these these proportions of natural habitat. And they're they're in through influence on wild coordinator populations and also wild coordinator, reproduction and diversity. And then more recently, more studies have also been looking at mouth flowering crops because if you have these mouth flowering crops in your landscape to a certain extent they can provide resources that are of views to support [00:06:00] bees as well.
At least during the one or two or three weeks that they are flowering, these fields can really boost. Or enhance all native populations. The main conclusion regarding those mass flowering crops as well is that if the flowering period is over and if the landscape has too much percentages in area wise, then of these mass flowering crops that that they can be, yeah.
That they. Yeah, in that there's a, that they can cause a resource bottleneck in those landscapes whereby the pollinators don't have sufficient resources in time. Okay. And yeah they've also been looking at how they're the trade offs between natural habit and mouth flowering crops and how different pollinators prefer certain habitat types.
Andony Melathopoulos: it comes to the yeah. Go ahead Maxine.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. When it comes to the managed bees [00:07:00] most of the research has been looking at voluntary bees that nest in pa in umat like Mason bees and Mikayla bees. And also bumblebees because these are easy to manipulate and to test the abundance and reproduction reproductive output in these landscapes.
And often these studies, they include counts of honeybees, but they're not really focused on Yeah. The studies are not, are. The, yeah, the studies don't always focus on honeybees, but they're still included as a measurement. And then when they look for effects of natural habitat, of mosier crops of all honeybee abundance then it's often very, the results are very mixed.
Because the studies are not designed for honeybees, because honeybees have, they're domesticated. B. And if humans don't put these bees into the landscape, then they're not there. So there, there's a [00:08:00] different, there's a very important human aspect there. And also the foraging range of the honey bees a lot bigger or greater.
The compared to deaths of bumblebees and mason bees and other solitary. So the landscape scale at which you would want to study effects on honeybees is a lot greater compared to that of managed of the wild bees. So this in part explains why studies are very mixed when it comes to landscape effects on honeybee abundances.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay I, that, that's great. I, so if I could just summarize that. So I imagine for wild bees some kind of one could imagine a relationship where just mass flowering crops may be detrimental to the wild bees because they, as you mentioned, there'd be this pulse of resources and nothing. So some kind of balance between semi-natural habitat and mass flowering crops.
One would imagine would be, Better for wild bees, but I imagine for [00:09:00] honeybees specifically if you have too much semi-natural habitat, maybe the bees won't go to the crop they're supposed to pollinate. But what you've said here is that there really hasn't been a study designed to answer the question for the main the largest kind of bulk of managed pollinators, the honeybees, that there's a, there's been a gap so far.
In terms of Yeah. Research that's focused on that question.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Andony Melathopoulos: And I suppose that's why some of the results that people have had, because the research hasn't really been designed for that question, haven't been conclusive. Yeah,
Maxime Eeaerts: The results are if you, for instance, take 20 studies that look at that re at those relationships yeah.
You find no effect a positive effect a negative effect all sorts of yeah, inconclusive effects. Results.
Andony Melathopoulos: I want, let me shift gears just slightly. I wanna go from the perspective of a grower, cuz I, this research was part of a ongoing U S D A S C R [00:10:00] I grant led by Rufuss Isaac, and you did a lot of this work while you were working in Lisa DE's lab at Washington State University and where, Dr.
Detter really focuses on growers and trying to serve growers. And I wondered, How do growers think about how many colonies they need in these terms, in this terms of seven natural habitat and mass flying crops? Or do they think about it in these terms or are they using other criteria?
What's the grower's perspective when they say, I need a hundred colonies? Do they think in relation to these terms currently or are they thinking in some other way?
Maxime Eeaerts: My experience here is that growers mainly follow high density recommendations, which are tailored to the field level. And they follow these recommendations that are provided by extension extension offices.
So a number, so four hives per Hector, for instance, or per acre. And a lot of farmers or growers they follow the [00:11:00] recommendations. Some don't. But they also have, growers also have had their own experience and know more or less, like last year I had this amount which was recommended and I want a bit more, or I want a bit less based on their experience of the yields in each field.
So they mainly think at a field scale or a farm scale based on recommendations coming from extension. And then this is then yeah, leveraged with their own experiences. And yeah, they don't really think of it as oh, I have. This landscape with a lot of semial habitat or this landscape with a lot of blueberries.
I'm gonna alter it that way or decide on that. Oh, so
Andony Melathopoulos: yeah, they may be a farm, like there may be, you may have two farms, one in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by semi-natural habitat, but that's a. 10 acre farm. And then you may have another farm that's 10 acres in amongst lots of other blueberries [00:12:00] and they're following the extension recommendation and they're using the same number of colonies, but they're not the context of how much other, like a mass flowering crop blueberry is in relation to them, or how much semi-natural habitat is in relation to them.
That's really not. Something that has been worked out so that it doesn't come into their decision making at present.
Maxime Eeaerts: , it depends, of course, some farmers do are more aware and convinced of the research regarding wild pollinators, and then they look at the landscape a little bit.
But in general, it's more, indeed, recommendations and then how they, how farmers or growers have experienced the link. Density and yield in the, in, in the previous years. Sometimes something that we also saw in, in, in Washington is that there are, that there's some kind of neighbor effect that's, yeah.
Some growers know, okay, my [00:13:00] neighbor is stocking low, so in these fields that are neighboring that field, I'm stocking higher. And that is also something that we. . So that's more a social dynamic than a real landscape
Andony Melathopoulos: perspective. Oh, but, okay. But it's interesting cuz in some ways growers may know, like at this neighbor effect, they know that at the landscape level there's enough colonies.
They don't know the exact relationships, but they have a sense that there's enough callings in this landscape. And so they. Maybe not order as many colonies cuz they know their neighbor has such large numbers. And in contrast, there are growers who know that there's wild pollinators in semi-natural habitat.
They don't know the exact relationship, but they adjust. According that, to a kind of like a common sense rather than a, really worked out. . Okay. That makes that's excellent. That's great. And I, so I imagine, so this research is, I think, has been designed to try and put some numbers on what these relationships are so that growers can Start to think about stocking density of [00:14:00] honeybees in in relation to these landscape parameters.
Can you tell us what your research objectives are and your approach to trying to characterize or test these
Maxime Eeaerts: objectives? Yeah, so the main research question of this study was how can we explain. Variation in honeybee visitation in different fields. When we look at the different parameters that are highly likely to be relevant.
And the first parameter here is the field, the density of hives in a field or a form. So what, this is actually what a farmer decides to put in the field. This can be two high per acre or 10 high per ac. There's a great variation in this aspect. Then another per parameter was the number of hives in the surrounding landscape.
And here we mapped the hives in a radius of one kilometer around. [00:15:00] Our studies around each study site. And for this we went to each blueberry field in Washington in that radius and walked the perimeter and mapped the hives and yeah, another parameter, then semi-natural habitat.
So we also mapped the amount of semi-natural habitat around each study site. And. Yeah. In that way. Yeah. We also then during mid bloom of duke, we surveyed pollinators about wild bators, but definitely also honeybees by catching them with Annette when they visit flowers. And the nice thing about Washington is that you only have at least the Pacific Northwest side of Washington, so Skagit and Watcom County.
Over there, you only have blueberry and raspberry as mo firing crops, and sometimes the blooming period overlaps. But in 2021, they did not overlap. So we were a hundred percent sure that during mid bloom of Duke, all [00:16:00] the blueberry fields in the surrounding landscape also for other cultivars of blueberry, that they were fully stocked because we also did the hi mapping.
During mid bloom of Duke, so you are really sure that there were no other hives, for instance, in raspberry. And we were at the full stocking density of blueberry at that time for the year. And then we compared or try to look for the best The model that best explains the variation in honeybee visitation with all these parameters in consideration.
And here we have found then that it's mainly the variation in hives in the landscape. That's yeah, that, that describes the variation in honeybee visitation in the fields best. And. Natural habitat and also not the field the field level densities that the farmers put out.
Andony Melathopoulos: Oh, really?
So the grower who you were the thinking about earlier the grower who thinks that, it's not how many colonies I put [00:17:00] on the edge of my field, but the number of colonies in the area that matters. Mm-hmm. ,, they're right. So you have , you've noticed that it's not, how many colonies are directly adjacent to the field, but really what scale are we talking about for a grower who's trying to think about where this relationship kicks in?
What kind of scales are we talking about?
Maxime Eeaerts: The one kilometer scale.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay. So one kilometer. What happens if you shrink that down or make it larger? That the relationship is not.
Maxime Eeaerts: I don't know. We just looked at what scale is best explains the variation, and within that scale, we then looked at what variable is explaining our variation best.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay? So the most explanatory scale is is a kilometer. And what a, and the other thing that you mentioned is that the semi-natural habitat did not seem to when you looked at the number of bees that were visiting the blueberry flowers and you looked at the number of [00:18:00] colonies in that one kilometer radius, that seemed to describe how many bees were there.
But how about the amount of semi-natural habitat? Did that describe how many, you said that did not describe the number of honeybees?
Maxime Eeaerts: No. Okay. No, that did not impact the honeybees. And I think from the analysis that natural habitats also by itself had different scales. It did not really impact the variation of honey.
Andony Melathopoulos: I suppose this goes contrary to something that I've heard from growers who often have said that, if I have a lot of, flowering maple close by , that this is going to impact the visits on my field, but this is not what you saw.
Maxime Eeaerts: No. No. And of course, yeah, I think every hive has a requirement.
Pollen and diverse pollen and every colony will, will go out and forage for that pollen because the green needs that [00:19:00] in order to feed their larva and the fruit. So if you have, for instance, a crop like blueberry, you can expect that's all honey bees go to a natural habitat or go to. Field margins for pollen because they have, yeah they're very, they're not really capable of getting pollen from blueberries, so they it's, we did not see a negative effect.
But also if you think about it very logically, it's probably better to have natural habitat close by, because then the honeybees can get the pole more. That, and
Andony Melathopoulos: they'll remember somewhere in, in the paper you described that maybe it was something like only a sliver, a fraction of the honeybees were seen collecting pollen on the blueberry, so that
Maxime Eeaerts: yeah. On average, I think it's two or 3%. So it's, yeah. The blueberry requires gu pollination in order to release pollen. A lot of pollen and honeybees are not able to do this best pollination, so vibrating the flower.
Yeah, compared to, for instance, cherry or apple where honeybees can forage for both pollen and nectar [00:20:00] they, they can only forge efficiently on blueberry for nectar.
Andony Melathopoulos: I interrupted you. You were, I have to say something else before I interrupted you. Do you remember what I was You were gonna say what I was going to see?
Yeah. Before I cut in.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah, if you think about it logically, that sentence Oh yeah, that's right. Yeah. If you think about it logically they, your honey bees will spend more time purging for PO if international habitat is further away and. That, that will
Andony Melathopoulos: decrease them away from the foraging. Wait a second. So that's fascinating.
So the idea is that if you didn't have semi-natural habitat, your bees still need pollen. And so they're gonna be potentially spending less time on blueberry because they're taking these massively long trips to try and find the pollen. ,
Maxime Eeaerts: huh? Yeah. And it decreases their forging efficiency and it makes it might,
it might. They might go [00:21:00] to dandelion, but dandelion is often mowed, which I don't think is really good. But one thing is for sure they, they will go to blueberry for Paul for nectar. That, that's very obvious. So they will definitely visit blueberry and if they then have to. Two kilometers to, to find pollen.
I think that decreases their forging efficiency and might impact Yeah. Colon nation as well.
Andony Melathopoulos: So you did notice though that just coming right back to it at this one kilometer radius, a number of colonies seem to describe the number of bees. Visiting the flowers. How did this impact yield? I imagine you saw variability in yield from, the, the, the transects where there weren't very many honeybees to the transects where there were a lot of honeybees.
Did this in impact any of the yield parameters? Is having more bees on your blueberry flowers? I guess that's the premise. That's what we all assume lead to higher. Higher productivity of berries.
Maxime Eeaerts: We also measured [00:22:00] pollination and we found that measured pollination by just the observing how many berries are formed and seeds are formed and berries are set by insects.
And then adding also, Supplemental own by hand to a lot of branches to see what's the maximum pollination success of that field when it comes to fruit set, vary weight and seed set. And here we found that in Washington the gap between that maximum amount of pollination and the observed pollination by insects that for fruit sets and berry weight, that actually.
The gap is negligible, so they are well pollinated when it comes to preset and vary weight. But we did see for seeds that, that more honeybees on the flowers increase the number of seeds per. But this increase did not cascade or translate into an increasing weight of the berri.[00:23:00]
I think I,
Andony Melathopoulos: and I think we've discussed this on the podcast previously, that sometimes , the seeds are really related to the the size of the berry, but may not necessarily be, so if the plant is limited in resources, it may not have the PO potential, to fill that berry, even though the seeds.
Strongly signaling, is that one of the ways that you would interpret the fact that the more bees that you had didn't result in larger larger bees? , but more seat set?
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. That, that the resource limitation explanation might be fitting here. Indeed. But another thing might be that for two, for instance, 20 seeds might be enough to get really big berries because the berries that we harvest that often were very big.
So in order to get these berries even bigger it's
Andony Melathopoulos: it may not be, you've already reached the limit. Oh, that's an interesting way of putting, okay. That's, thanks for explaining. I'm
Maxime Eeaerts: not sure both are both the [00:24:00] resource. Limitation and like 20 seats might be enough. Could be at play.
I'm not sure. We need more research to, to investigate that, I think. But definitely the barriers that we harvested were often quite big.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay. So they were, they didn't seem to be resource limited, so that second , explanation may be in effect. . But let's return back. We have neglected to talk about the the wild bees.
What were the wild bees that you saw in blueberry fields in Washington? What are the, what were you
Maxime Eeaerts: seeing? A lot of bumblebees I think in total we found nine species of bumblebee, which is, for that region is a lot, definitely considering the sampling intensity of our pollinator surveys.
And then we also saw a lot of mining piece. And the mining piece, it is really nice to see. They faire a lot in size. You have smaller ones and bigger ones and they carry a lot of. So I can imagine they're like super, super important or efficient pollinators. [00:25:00]
Andony Melathopoulos: I the one thing I just wanna quickly mention, I think many of our visitors many of our visitors, many of our ga our listeners know that bumblebee's, buzz pollinate but may not re realize that many other btac also get pollen out of these pal anchors. It's not just bumblebees that can , effectively dislodge the pollen.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. And some solitary bees can also burst, pollinate but for instance, oia there's one species of ossa that also gets born out of blueberry.
Ah, but I cannot in a different mechanism. Ah, okay. Alright. Yeah I read it, I forgot it. But there are indeed different ways they can get owned from.
Andony Melathopoulos: And I guess when we were talking about bumblebees, we're talking about queens. Blueberry is early in the season and yes, likely at that time they haven't had their first, they're just starting to make their brewed broods and yeah.
Maxime Eeaerts: We saw a lot of species, but in most locations we saw very few specimens and the abundance was very low and often, [00:26:00] Not often, but in, in I think one fourth or one third of the sites, it was zero. So that, that's also an interesting observation to see that the natural habitat that is around in those landscapes still supports good B populations.
But when the fields get too big these wild pollinators, they get. And their actual poor nation contribution is negligible or very much dependent on location.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay, so we, so coming back to those parameters, the semi-natural habitat and mass flowering crop, I think I just heard you say that although there was remarkable diversity of, for example, bumblebees, the abundance was low. And so when you looked at , the visits the total number of visits on these transects was there a.
To the mass flowering crop and conversely with, increasing amounts of [00:27:00] semi-natural habitat, did this alter the, the, when you looked at the variation, was it coupled to more semi-natural habitat like other researchers have found? Did you start to see more wild B visits?
Maxime Eeaerts: The positive effect of natural habitats on wild obese was detected and observed. At the same time, we also found that the negative effects or the dilution effect of moss flowering crops more or bigger blueberry fields is at play as well. So these natural habitats can still supply a lot of wild pollinators.
But if the blueberry fields are too big and if the farms are too big, then. The abundance of these valve coordinators is too low because they get diluted in these big fields.
Andony Melathopoulos: Okay, that makes sense. I, and I wonder just keep, go. Sorry, Maxine, I think I I took your pauses. Keep going.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. So yeah, I think the conclusion is that, valve coordinators in Washington contribute very, [00:28:00] Little to pollination of blueberry. But I think the potential is there when it comes to the diversity of the populations in the habitats that it's possible to enhance them and to promote them if this would be desired.
Andony Melathopoulos: I imagine, especially with such diversity of bees in and around agricultural landscapes, it's quite remarkable. And it, I would in terms of be stewardship and sort of conservation and increasing biodiversity, some of these farms are really well positioned to, boast that.
I've done stewardship , think often, there's these programs around where, you have farms that promote that they're developing habitat for wild birds. They're in a , especially in that area where you have large bird migrations. A lot of those farms invest and really take pride in the fact that they're helping wild bird populations.
I I would hope that, given the finding that you have of the high diversity, that this might encourage some farmers just to [00:29:00] invest a little bit on those semi-natural habitat. ,
Maxime Eeaerts: yeah. That would be one part of the solution. Another part, of course, is looking for the optimal high density for your crop.
Sticking to that maximum hive density and not overstocking the fields in order to avoid competition of honeybees with wild bees or resource depletion of honeybees in landscapes. That's I think another part of the solution here. Because I, yeah, sometimes the hive density are in these landscapes are very high.
Andony Melathopoulos: So I think that's, and is it correct to say, at least in this study and in this variety that maybe the benefits in terms of yield, were not manifest by in increasing that landscape level? And there's a clearly an increased cost of in, of getting the hive numbers up, but , was there much evidence of, when you pushed that landscape level colony stalking rate, was there, you.
I guess [00:30:00] you already answered the question, the yield might not have been there.
Maxime Eeaerts: I also investigated the hive density in the landscape and it's relation to yield, but I did not find any relation. But yeah, this year I collaborated a bit with Stan Shap from University of Florida. And via him I learned this technique of segmented, regress.
and I think if we can apply that segmented regression technique. So it's looking for a linear regression up to a certain threshold and behind it, these thresholds, your relationship is non linear uhhuh. So it's not positive. I think if we apply this technique to this kind of data, then we can determine the number.
Hives in the landscape that is required and where you see a benefit, a yields benefit, or a pollination benefit.
Andony Melathopoulos: Oh, just to break, so just to break this down for the listeners, so if you right now, you're assuming, but there may be a threshold you mentioned this [00:31:00] earlier where I think so.
Yeah. And if you that point a grower would know that any additional colonies they put in that landscape may not be giving them any benefit in contrast. , it may have these negative effects on, this wonderful b diversity that they're that they're supporting in their landscapes and that, one could maybe come to a better compromise between these two things.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. And I. With that statistical technique, I think we can use the data that we collected in, in Washington, but also in Oregon, in Michigan and Florida to, to test these relationships. And to see also how that, it is variable across states because landscape in Michigan and landscape in Washington and Oregon, Florida is a lot different.
But to really go to. Or try to use this threshold approach and based on that, determine like this is the high density beyond which if you further increase beyond which you don't see an added yield benefit and recommend growers [00:32:00] and perhaps even yeah, policy makers to. To stick to that maximum in order to also conserve wild pollinators.
That's, that discussion will bring us very far, I think.
Andony Melathopoulos: This is fascinating and it should, just to mention that you are working on some additional, this is this project is taking place not only in Washington, but also Michigan, Florida, and Oregon. And so there's a lot more data to come out of this and the ultimate.
Goal of this project is to give growers a tool, a planner, so that these kinds of decisions. Like I, I like the way that you put it in this podcast that, there's a kind of back of the envelope calculation that a grower uh, In the, in, in lieu of having better data and better models has to make sort of decisions.
But this will really help that decision making. When this project wraps up, there'll be better tools for growers to be able to, really consider [00:33:00] what what benefits, what the cost of what they're doing and what are the larger benefits, both in terms of their farm profitability, but also in terms of stewardship.
They may be able to get, yeah.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah. I think that's the goal.
Andony Melathopoulos: Before we wrap up, to get there, yeah. Before we wrap up though, I do want to just quickly ask you are now, the last time we talked to you, you were in Washington. , now you're in Belgium. Tell us a little bit about what you're doing there.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah I transitioned again to, to Belgium in November. And I'm now back at the University of Gz working at the lab of Christopher Hain. That's a forest and nature management and forest and nature ecology lab. But I will still mainly focus on pollination and crop pollination and also the wellbeing of populations in, in, in landscapes both in agriculture, but I think we'll also try and.
Study that the benefit of urban gardens for pollinators, because in, in Belgium, 10% of, or no, at least [00:34:00] in flounders, so the northern part of Belgium, 10% of the land area is taken up by, by gardens. But then also in addition to that, see how how we can study.
These similar to the blueberry projects to see how we can study prop pollination and develop more targeted guidelines that benefits farmers and the yield, but also the pollinators. That's a bit more applied research.
Andony Melathopoulos: That's wonderful. You if people haven't heard, there's a really great just to, to showcase the diversity of d Dr.
Rat's research interest. There's a wonderful podcast that we did with him earlier on managing solitary cavity nesting bee. So have a listen to that. Good luck on your next venture. Yes, we are looking forward to hearing more about what you're up to. And thanks for yeah, we're really, for those of you who are interested in this paper, it'll be linked in the show notes real [00:35:00] fascinating read and just more and more information coming to our blueberry growers to help them make decisions around pollination.
So thank you so much for joining us again today.
Maxime Eeaerts: Yeah, thanks for the invitation. It was a pleasure.
Extension guides often offer blanket recommendations for honey bee colony stocking rates on a field scale. This week we learn about new blueberry research that suggests these recommendations need to take the landscape into consideration.
Dr. Maxime Eeraerts is a FWO postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Environment at Ghent University in Belgium. He talks this week about research he conducted as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Lisa DeVetter’s lab working on blueberry pollination at Washington State University.
- Eeraerts, M., Rogers, E., Gillespie, B., Best, L., Smith, O.M. and DeVetter, L.W., 2022. Landscape-level honey bee hive density, instead of field-level hive density, enhances honey bee visitation in blueberry. Landscape Ecology, pp.1-13.
- Blueberry Planner Pollination Project webpage