32 Matt Arrington – Pollinating Blueberries in the Pacific Northwest


Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture.

Winter is a great time of year to get out to grower meetings and find out what's new and exciting in the field of crop pollination. And is that one of these meetings I met Matt Arrington. Matt recently graduated with a PhD in Horticulture from Washington State University and is currently working with Dr. Lisa DeVetter at the Small Fruit Horticulture Program in Mount Vernon, Washington as a graduate research assistant. And what I was really excited about was a project that he was involved in that included pollination and fruit set improvements in Highbush Blueberry with some real remarkable findings on the kind of stocking rates, the number of bee colonies per acre that we need in the Pacific Northwest region to get really good fruit set. I know it seems a long time before bees are going to be moving into crops for pollination, but I know talking to people around the region, they're just taking a quick break before they head down to California for almond pollination.

And after that is blueberry. So it's a great time of year to think about how you use bees more efficiently in the Pacific Northwest blueberry crop. Hi Matthew, welcome to Pollination. Hi, thank you for having me. Now we're going to talk about blueberries and pollination and it's really great to have somebody who knows so much about blueberries and pollination on the show.

And let's just imagine for a second and I hear this, I'm sure you've heard this a million times. So you have a backyard and you want to get a lot of blueberries. And I'm sure you get questions like this, will the flower self-pollinate or does pollen need to move from different flowers, from different plants? Do you need insect pollinators to transfer the pollen or does the wind pollinate? Are different kinds of insect pollinators needed?

Like will you, all those questions. Give us a sketch of a high bush blueberry pollination biology, let's say for the backyard berry eater. Like what do they need to know about blueberries, high bush blueberries?

Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. So I think that the first, first important thing for backyard growing is that blueberries are to a large extent self-pollinating high bush blueberries. I'll talk specifically about that. I don't have as much experience with low bush or even some of the half-highs. But high bushes are to a large extent self-pollinating. And so you're starting off, you have one or even two cultivars in your backyard. You're usually going to be okay with the moderate harvest. OK, so the benefit of increasing that crop load, is the harvest is going to be bringing those other cultivars in and getting cross-pollination. That's been shown to increase the number and the size of the fruit.

Speaker 1: OK, so even though they're self-pollinating plants, you get you still get this boost from kind of bringing another pollen from another cultivar onto the stigma. Exactly.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I think that a lot of it has to do with that saturation point with pollen on the stigma. And then the pollination. Yeah, go ahead. Yes. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, insect pollination just is a more effective way with those closed flowers where it's really difficult for pollen to get out of there. There is a little bit of wind pollination that can occur. But then generally, insect pollinators are needed for that pollen transfer and increased yield.

Speaker 1: You said something about the shape of a blueberry flower. Take us through like, why is a blueberry flower? Why does it not just automatically self all the time? What's what is it about its structure that makes it that doesn't happen as frequently as something something else?

Speaker 2: Yeah, like an apple or a blueberry flower is bell-shaped or balloon-shaped. It's kind of an opening at the bottom facing toward the ground. Right. OK. And so bees are going to fly up and kind of attach that bottom of that flower hanging on it.

And so with wind pollination, it's going to be difficult for pollen to get out of that bell shape and then back into the bell shape of another flower. Oh, right. That's where the difficulty occurs.

Yeah. And I think that that flower shape to a large degree is really important for kind of sheltering the pollen from the weather. Blueberries grow in a lot of areas that are really moist in the springtime.

Speaker 1: Oh, so it's kind of like a little umbrella and it keeps the pollen nice and dry. Yeah. OK. Great. And you I remember we were talking earlier, you were talking about the answers of blueberry flowers. They're a little bit peculiar. Can you tell us a little bit about them? Yeah.

Speaker 2: So the answer is a blueberry flower kind of tight stores that pollen. And one of the I mean, it can be rubbed off by a honey bee sticking his head into the flower and moving around. But really, these flowers are the answers that are more effective for distributing flowers with buzz pollination. And that's when the bumblebee buzz pollination. Yeah. The bumblebees are flooding those flight and vibrating flowers. It causes a dehiscence or a release of pollen from the answers.

Speaker 1: OK, so they're kind of like dislodging it. And it's kind of coming out of the flower in a clump or something. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah. It kind of can coat on to the bumblebee, a little cloud.

Speaker 1: OK, so bumblebees are really good then at pollinating these flowers, even though they're these small, little, dainty flowers, these big bumblebees are able to kind of get the pollen out of them.

Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. And it kind of seems counterintuitive that that bumblebee would be the most effective pollinator when it is so much larger than the flower itself. And I think that's an important point that blueberries are native to North America. Honey bees that we use as the primary pollinators are native to Europe Africa and Eurasia. And so there's kind of this disconnect with honey bees and blueberry flowers. Bumblebees are native to North America and they have this co-evolution with blueberry flowers.

Speaker 1: Yeah, you know, it strikes me and, you know, we'll get into this later in the interview. But, you know, that honey bees are really the workhorses of blueberry pollination. It does raise the question of why are honey bees so important to yield if they're not as well adapted to pollinate species in the blueberry family.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it's a great question. And I think that part of the answer is just that that's what's available. The price point is at a good spot. Part of that's driven by the alienation of almond plants in Northern California or Central and Northern California. And that availability of honey bees just is in a place where it becomes an easy pollinator. They're easy to manage, relatively easy to manage compared to some of these other species of bee that we might use for pollinating blueberries. We talked about bumblebees, osmia species bees, megachillid bees. There are a lot of the smaller body bees that are also effective at pollinating blueberries.

Speaker 1: OK, great. So really a honey bee may not be the ideal species, but they're just for the price. They'll do the job.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah. The management direction is an easy one to come out with, where it's easy to add more bees or be able to change the arrangement when you have these hive boxes that are relatively easy to transport and to care for, especially compared to some of the other strategies related to bumblebees, which are kind of more of a disposable product. Right. Or some of the osmia species.

Speaker 1: You know, this has come up before I've talked to a lot of people who, for example, work with osmia or with leaf cutter bees, and it really does, you know, one can't discount the importance of having a person there who knows what they're doing. And I guess with the beekeeping system, you're not just getting these bees, but you're getting a person who knows how to move the bees and manage the bees. That's also a key aspect in any kind of pollination system, is having a manager there who knows their bees.

Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. I think that that's important to not discount that there. The beekeeper, in most of these cases, is contracted, excuse me, to take care of, you know, any additional feeding and all the health that's going along with making sure that these bees are at their prime throughout bloom.

Speaker 1: OK, let's back up a little bit. I know anybody in our region and Washington and Oregon has really seen over the last 15 years a steady expansion of blueberry acres first on the west side of the Cascades, but now, you know, it's really expanded into the east of the Cascades, maybe a little bit more in Washington. It's just starting here in Oregon. Can you explain what are some of the reasons growers in the Pacific Northwest are experiencing poor fruit sets? And are there some regions in the Pacific Northwest that are more prone to fruit set problems?

Speaker 2: Yeah, that's a great question. There are multiple reasons for poor fruit sets in the Pacific Northwest. And I think one of the things that's important to remember is that sometimes this can be a year-to-year thing where maybe in 2016, 2017, for example, we had relatively good fruits that kind of across the board. And a lot of that has to do with weather conditions. Yeah, the temperature and the moisture can impact not only the length of the bloom but also pollinator activity.

Speaker 1: I guess blueberries don't really bloom at a time when it's like hot and sunny and a time that bees really like and are good at doing their job.

Speaker 2: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. They're blooming at a time when usually we have that, you know, the March in like a lion portion of the spring where we have fairly heavy rainfall, low temperatures. Oftentimes we can have windstorms and those are all environmental conditions that are really not good for foraging activity, especially in honeybees.

Speaker 1: So just thinking about this one factor, does it make it worse on the west of the Cascades as fruit set a little bit better on the east side?

Speaker 2: It does. And I think that as you go further south, fruit set is not as much of an issue year to year as it is west of the Cascades in Washington and British Columbia.

Okay. There definitely is a regionally specific area in that rain shadow where temperatures are just in that spot where fruit set is going to be hindered by poor activity for those honeybees primarily.

Speaker 1: Okay, thanks for laying the groundwork on sort of the pollination issues on blueberry in the Pacific Northwest. Let's take a quick break and I want to come back and talk about research that you've done, kind of thinking about how to use honeybees a little bit better and other bees, bumblebees, to be able to kind of deal with these problems in our region. Okay, we'll take a break.

We'll be back in a minute. Okay, we're back and we're talking about blueberry pollination. Growers typically recommended a stocking rate, the number of honeybee colonies per acre to get optimal fruit set. I want to ask you, you've been thinking about this problem, where do these stocking rates come from? Yeah, let's just start with that. When you pick up a manual and say so many hives per acre, where do they come from? How do they get established?

Speaker 2: Yeah, that's a great question. And so to start with the recommendation in the Pacific Northwest, that comes out of Oregon State University's Dr. Ramesh Stigely's lab. And they have an extension publication that includes those recommendations. So those are developed through a research protocol that's going to put bees out at different stocking densities and then monitor productivity.

So your fruit set varies in size for a number of different crops. And so the limitation, I think, in that kind of data is that it's very effective. The problem is that research is expensive and there's a lot of variation in climate, even in western Washington, between Wattcombe and Skagit counties, in Oregon, the North Willamette Valley, and the South Willamette Valley, there are some differences. And so it's really hard to be able to cover all of those areas. There can be quite a bit of variation in stocking density in a single crop, even between a couple of areas that are fairly close geographically.

Speaker 1: Well, you've said a few things. I want you to talk a little bit more about them. So why would, for example, a region matter when one does... And so just to go... You would set an experiment up where you'd say, you know, some fields would be at a certain number of collings per acre, others at another, and then you'd look at fruit set. And so why would that... Why would you expect that to change in certain conditions? Yeah.

Speaker 2: So I think that, again, looking at our recommendation, Dr. Seguili's lab has this... The recommendation is approximately three hives per acre in blueberry. Most of those trials were done through the Willamette Valley, which can be five to ten degrees warmer than Skagit Valley in Washington state, in western Washington, and also can have a couple of inches of rain less during that spring period. And that addition of rain and cold weather can really reduce the number of flight days or foraging days that honeybees have. And if your bloom window is only seven to 12 days, then losing half or three-quarters of that period to poor weather conditions can really be detrimental to pollination.

Speaker 1: Oh, so those three colonies per acre in one part of the area may only be effectively one colony per acre when you sort of tally up all the days they're working. Yeah, exactly. Gotcha. Okay. That makes sense. Okay. So do you have any sense of what growers are doing? What are the actual stocking rates when you've gone out and sort of talked to growers?

Speaker 2: What growers that we work with, there's a wide range. We have some growers that run smaller UPIC operations, and a few of them will not put any honeybee pollinators out at all. And they'll just rely on whatever native pollinators they have in the area. On the opposite side of that, we have growers who are stocking at eight or even 10 hives per acre. Okay.

Speaker 1: So it's supposed to be three according to Oregon State, and people are putting up to 10. Okay. Wow. Yeah.

Speaker 2: And I would say that that is still a rarity. We have just a couple of growers who have shared that with us, and the majority of growers are right around three or four hives per acre.

Speaker 1: Yeah. So you were really interested in this question of stocking rate. Was it this kind of actual variation in the world that kind of inspired you to take a look at this question? How did you get the idea to work with the stocking rate? Yeah.

Speaker 2: So actually, we didn't know that growers were using higher rates. There's kind of a secrecy among them, some of the ones in our area where maybe they were using that, but it wasn't general knowledge. Or maybe they were just trialing out higher rates. The reason that we looked at investigating was that the growers that we were primarily working with with the project were using three or four hives per acre. We looked at 2014 and 2015 and saw that during the bloom window for Draper, we only had really one day of good weather. Really?

Speaker 1: Wow. Okay.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And so, yeah, in that seven or nine days, only one day where it got above 65 degrees and where there wasn't rain or wind. And so, we thought maybe we could improve the fruit set just by kind of this brute force method. We can put a lot of bees out there just so that when the time comes, there's a lot of bodies in the air. And thinking that maybe we can push through pollination that way. And that was kind of where the idea came from. Okay.

Speaker 1: So kind of this experience of like a really, probably in your neck of the woods, a kind of typical very wet, cool march. And it's like maybe you can just blast it with honeybees and really get the fruit set up. So, tell us how you sort of approach this problem. So, how do you pass this idea out?

Speaker 2: Yeah. So, I work with Dr. Lisa DeVeter. She's the small fruit horticulturist at Pierre Mount Vernon. Prior to doing the stocking density project, she had conducted a survey looking at the honey bee visitation to blueberry plants.

And so, she looked at how many bees there are there's a metric of how many bees per bush per minute are pollinating and that is you measure that just by watching a bush for a timed one-minute segment and counting how many bees you can see pollinating flowers.

Speaker 1: Just as an aside, is that easy to do?

Speaker 2: Yes, it can be difficult and I imagine there's a large degree of error, and part of why when we do this we are looking at you're trying to keep things the same site to site. If you have three people watching bushes at a time then you're having the same three people on every site at every visit.

Speaker 1: When you're sitting and looking so you look you can see these bees and they're kind of going from flower to flower and so you can get a rate you can say okay in this situation there's this rate and then this many berries set or something.

Speaker 2: Right and what we found was it was it was relatively easy for us because we weren't seeing very many bees. Okay, gotcha. And so our rate maybe we would see one or two bees that would fly around and pollinate a flower or fly off maybe pollinate two flowers before they fly off and so it was fairly easy to quantify that. The problem is that there's a recommendation that comes out of Rufus Isaac's program for there to be four to six bees pollinating flowers per bush per minute during the warmest part of the day.

Okay. And so in looking at that recommendation, that's kind of what we're going off of, and when we were consistently seeing no bees or maybe one or two then we were starting to realize that maybe there's an issue here with our pollination density or stalking density and so that's kind of where that started from. So our stalking density project we kind of based it around that same idea of counting the bees per bush per minute and seeing if we were improving that by improving stalking density and so we set up all these sites and we had three days that we went and observed bees per site and then each plant that we're observing gets observed three times in that period.

Okay. And really what we're just trying to submit to see if we're improving visitation which we did see significantly improved number of bees on the bushes with that increased stalking density.

Speaker 1: And when did you start to see that increase? How many colonies are acre?

Speaker 2: Yeah, that's a great question and we didn't use... We didn't have any kind of gradient. We just had the recommended and then that doubled rate. Yeah. But the interesting thing is that even at the doubled rate we still didn't see those four to six bees per bush per minute that come from the recommendation and so that's what kind of led us to believe that maybe this is all kind of contingent on what the weather conditions are but there's the possibility that even more bees could be used during that pollination time. And I think that part of that is a function of how many flowers still need to be pollinated when the weather is nice. Part of that may be that the four to six bees per bush per minute are a recommendation that comes out of the eastern side of the United States and that potentially just like there are differences in climate between Western Oregon and Western Washington, maybe there are differences that are impacting that number of bees for us as well.

Speaker 1: Oh, right, because it could be four to six bees per minute over a number of days and so the flowers eventually you're going to get pollinated but if you have three bad days then you've got to get more out there.

Speaker 2: Exactly. And so that's kind of where we started from. We also looked at the fruit set to see if we'd improve the fruit set and I think that I had mentioned earlier that 2016 and 2017 are both fairly good years weather-wise during that pollination period and those just happen to be the two years that we were doing this project. The weather doesn't cooperate and so yeah, we didn't see poor weather conditions and I think that part of that is why we didn't see an improvement in the fruit set. The fruit set was already relatively high.

Okay. But we did see an improvement in the berry size, an increased berry size which was strongly correlated with the increased number of seeds per berry and that equaled an economic benefit that made financial sense, improving that stocking density.

Speaker 1: So it made sense even though you're paying double the amount for your pollination rentals, you still made money. Exactly.

Speaker 2: We saw an increase of about $360 an acre after already accounting for pollination. Yeah, so it paid off just in berry size and that's one of the things we think that because it pays off in a good year or it paid off in a good year, I should say, that kind of provides this level of security that I can still place a higher number of bees in a good year and still be making good money and then in a bad year, I have this insurance policy where I already have higher than recommended rates to kind of take care of improving fruit set.

Speaker 1: It's what they call a win-win. That's right. That's really awesome. I worked as a student in Highbush blueberry in the mid-90s and I remember blueberry growers in British Columbia were always looking for ways to sort of get their bees to work harder and there was a lot of interest back then in putting additives on the plants like attractants and you've done a little bit of work with attractants. Is that a viable way forward for growers if they don't want to spend the extra money on the bee colonies?

Speaker 2: Yeah, that's a great question and that's something that we looked at because we have a lot of our growers are applying a lot of these products. And there's actually another student who's going to continue some of this work and she will be looking more in-depth at the attractants. However, our preliminary research showed that there really was no benefit to applying and attracting. I know that there are some differences in products. The product that we were applying was kind of a synthetic Nassunoff pheromone product and you can tell that kind of has a citrusy smell. And so with that product, we didn't see any benefit at all to fruit sets, berry size, yield in general across the board really.

Speaker 1: Can you describe to our listeners what these attractants are? Because I'm sure most of the people listening, they've never heard of these things. What is a bee attracted to? A crop system.

Speaker 2: So this product is a liquid and you're tank mixing and then it's being sprayed onto the bushes. Essentially, it's going to mimic some of these pheromones that the bees are creating to direct them. So in some cases, there's a queen mandibular pheromone. In this case, Nassunoff pheromone is something that's kind of in a natural hive situation, it's going to direct bees back to the hive. So if you ever see your honeybees out in front of the hive fanning, that's generally what they're doing. And so that's helping to kind of guide bees back to the hive. And so that's one of the primary attractants that is used up here in Western Washington is this bee-sent product.

Speaker 1: OK. So far, preliminary doesn't seem to work, but there's going to be some more work coming out of Washington State to nail down that question. Yes. Yes. OK, excellent. Well, I think it's really surprising. You know, I sometimes think about these stocking rate studies. And when I look at our publication, you know, it's really based on research that happened a long time ago and a lot of these stocking rate studies. You know, people aren't necessarily doing them nowadays. And, you know, varieties are changing and we're seeing blueberries, crops expanding into new regions. It seems like a really necessary kind of work to do.

And it's I want maybe just to kind of tail this off. Now you've had these findings. Do you think in general we could be getting a lot more yield from blueberries by increasing colony stocking rates in the region?

Speaker 2: Yeah, I think that certainly is. Under conditions, kind of like we talked about earlier, those years when the weather is poor, I think we definitely could be increasing yield as far as kind of an across-the-board increase in yield. I think it may be too early to tell whether or not we can do that.

I think that it was promising to see that. We were able to increase the berry size. Improving fruits that just improved yield through berry size with an increased density. I think that's where it starts to be interesting to think about, especially some of these new cultivars, and the shapes of the flowers may be a little bit different a little bit closer, maybe a smaller flower shape. And kind of playing around with those densities of of honey bees or even supplementing native bees could really be a benefit in improving berry size and ultimately yield.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I imagine that just that last part that we are seeing these changes in petal morphology that some of them are really hard for bees to get at. Some may be remarkably easy for them to get at and that must be yet another factor to take into consideration.

Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. And I think the industry standard for a long time has kind of been Duke to a large extent. There are a lot of acres of planted Duke and Duke has a relatively large open flower compared to other blueberry cultivars. And what we've seen in some of our early work and looking at some of these new cultivars is that a lot of the new cultivars, almost all of the ones that we tested had smaller flowers and smaller flower openings compared to Duke.

Speaker 1: Oh, so they might be harder to pollinate.

Speaker 2: Yeah, there's definitely a potential that that there is a reduction in efficiency, especially of honey bees, where they need to enter the flower to be able to really effectively pollinate.

Speaker 1: Well, this is amazing work, Matthew. And I'm really looking forward to as you kind of write this work up. And I think lots of us in the Pacific Northwest are really interested in it. I want to let's take a break and I want to come back.

We have these questions that we ask all our guests and I'm really curious what a blueberry researcher's answers are going to be to them. So let's take a break. We'll be right back.

OK, Matthew, we're back. We've got three questions we ask all our guests. Really curious what your answer is. And the first one is, is there a book that you really want our listeners to know about that you kind of find as a fascinating book?

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, a great book that I really like and enjoyed reading was Pollination with Mason Bees by Marguerite Drum. Oh, great. And yeah, that and it's really interesting. And I think that Mason bees are an important part of the native pollinator population in our region.

Speaker 1: You know, it's funny. I actually went to school with Dr. Drum and I remember, you know, her findings are one of the few that really show high fidelity of Mason bees to blueberry pollen. And it's like one of the very it's really great comparative studies that she did look at different bee species. But not a lot of people think about Osmeal agnaria for blueberries. It's really kind of interesting the work that she did.

Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. I very much agree with that.

Speaker 1: Well, the next question I have is, is there a kind of tool? You know, I imagine for a lot of people, the kind of work that you do is counting bees on blueberry bushes and trying to figure out whether there's fruit set. Is there a tool that you use that you just could not do without? It's like your go-to tool for the kind of work you do.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I like that question. I think that there really are two things that come to mind that are really invaluable. And I think that both of them are things that could be important for people who are just backyard beekeepers or horticulturists who really are kind of paying attention to their bushes for their own harvest. And those are first my camera. Oh, I love being able to have a camera that can take great macro pictures of the bees pollinating and the flowers and anything odd that may be going on. And that's that's a great tool. And then the second thing is. A pad or a field notebook and a utensil.

I think that the most important thing for me is just keeping track of when things are happening in a given year. When is Bloom starting? When is Bloom ending? Now, what are the bee populations like? Even in my backyard, my blueberries, I keep track of how many bees per bush I'm seeing during bloom from year to year. And so I think that that kind of record keeping is really important to be able to get the most out of your plant material.

Speaker 1: I think it's a great lesson, especially in light of your research findings, where, you know, the context for bees being able to increase yield in blueberry is going to be really variable and depend on the weather conditions. And if you don't keep track of those things, you'll never know what those patterns are. Yeah, definitely. And just back to the camera, can you tell us a little bit more about your camera setup?

What was sort of like the aspect of it that, you know, oh, this finally has made the jump? You know, I'm sure there's lots of us out there using our iPhones. And it's like, why? You know, that's the real setup. Exactly.

Speaker 2: That's essentially what I use as well as my phone. I downloaded an app that has a good macro feature on it to just kind of take that maximum focus and then I can kind of adjust the distance with my hand. And I've found that I can get really good quality pictures. And it's something that I always have with me. And I think that's the important thing is, yeah, availability, being able to have it when you see something that you really want to capture.

Speaker 1: OK, great. And our last question for you is the way we ask those questions, do you have a favorite bee and that can be anything? It'd be a bee species. It can be like, you know, I think we haven't had somebody who's had like a labeled honey bee who's been following number 34 or something. But what's your answer to your favorite bee?

Speaker 2: Yeah, my favorite bee is the yellow face bumblebee. Bones, Boston, Sensky. And it's this is a bee that we kind of started to use in our project. It's native to our region. They're a great hardworking species of bumblebee.

And why I like them is because I'll see them out really early in the season. They'll be out pollinating while there's still snow on the ground. Wow. And I'll come home from work in the evening when it's already dark. And you'll hear them still in the bushes. And so I really enjoy really enjoy that species of bumblebee.

Speaker 1: Well, you know, that's a great segue. The one thing I remember about your work is that you try to get colonies of them kind of artificially set up in blueberry fields. But that was a challenge. I remember that was one of the one of the one of the pieces of your experience. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Finding a source that can provide consistently provide you know, strong colonies was really difficult. I think that if that can that can kind of come to fruition, then they can be a really important part of pollination in our region, specifically early flowering things like blueberries.

Speaker 1: Your story of coming home at night and it's still working is a great testament to that. Well, Matthew, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us about pollination. People are probably starting to think at this time of year, starting to think about their gardens. And I think one of the first things that they're going to be pollinating are things like berries. So this is a really great foreshadowing of the months ahead.

Speaker 2: Well, thank you. And I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk to you today. I really enjoyed it.

Speaker 1: Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollinationpodcast.oregonstate.edu. We'd also love to hear from you and there are several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or topic, or ask a question that could be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at pollinationpodcast.organstate .edu. Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU Pollinator Health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

Matt Arrington recently graduated with a Ph.D. in horticulture from Washington State University. He has experience in applied plant research with small fruit and tree fruit.

Matt is currently working with Dr. Lisa DeVetter at the Small Fruit Horticulture program in Mount Vernon, Washington as a graduate research assistant. Key projects he is involved with include pollination and fruit set improvement in highbush blueberry.

Listen in to learn about highbush blueberries, and how honeybees can greatly benefit the pollination and harvest of your plants.

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And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“[Blueberries bloom] in the spring, when we usually have fairly heavy rainfall, low temperatures, windstorms, and those are all environmental conditions that are really not good for foraging activities, especially in honeybees.” – Matt Arrington

Show Notes:

  • What you need to know about high bush blueberries
  • The role of pollinators for high bush blueberries
  • Why insect pollination is so crucial for blueberries
  • The advantages of having a manager for your pollinators
  • What stocking rates are for and how they are set
  • Why blueberry growers should consider using more honeybees
  • Why attractants are used and what they are made of

”I’ll see [bumble bees] out really early in the season. They’ll be out pollinating while there’s still snow on the ground, and I’ll come home from work in the evening when it’s dark and you’ll hear them still in the bush.” – Matt Arrington

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