97 Hannah Levenson – Regional bee communities (and the plants they like)


[00:00:00] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:00:00] 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. Andony Melathopolous, Assistant Professor in Pollinator Health in the Department of Horticulture.

[00:00:33] What if you could wrap up all the key topics that we've talked about over the past ninety or so episodes of PolliNation into one research project. Like what if we had a project that could address the different types of plants to plant across a wide geographic area, being specific to this site. What if we could get a survey of different pollinators, across a big scale, like a state? What if we could look into the diseases [00:01:00] that the pollinators get across space and time? Well, it would end up looking a lot like the project that my next guest is doing for her graduate work, Hannah Levinsion is in the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University. She's doing a lot of work, amazing work that encompasses all of these dimensions and also ropes in the extension service to be able to test all these questions across this huge state of North Carolina!

[00:01:28] Also, thank you very much for everybody who has called in with a question for our hundredth episode, you can still get some questions in. I really appreciate and enjoy getting your calls. Leave a message with a question, let us know where you're from at 541-737-3139 even if you're not in Oregon, we'd love to hear from you. Our round table of OSU pollinator experts are really looking forward to talking about what's on your mind. Hope you enjoy this episode with Hannah Levension.

[00:02:06] [00:02:00] All right, I am very excited to be sitting here across from Hannah Levension, welcome to PolliNation! 

[00:02:11] Hannah Levension: [00:02:11] Thank you, this is so exciting. 

[00:02:13] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:02:13] Now you're down in North Carolina, which is as far away from Oregon as you can get in the United States almost. 

[00:02:20] Hannah Levension: [00:02:20] Yeah, basically. 

[00:02:22] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:02:22] But the thing that binds Oregon and all sorts of states together is the extension service, and I was really intrigued when I heard about this wonderful initiative that you're doing your graduate studies on. To establish at least small pollinator plots in all the county extension and research facilities. Tell me a little bit about that initiative. 

[00:02:43] Hannah Levension: [00:02:43] Yeah, it's been really great and it's kind of created a network across the state that we get to work with so many people, we get to reach basically all the corners of the state. So the stations I work at are NCDA, which is North Carolina Department of [00:03:00] Agriculture research stations, and most of the time it's joint with NCC University.

[00:03:04] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:03:04] Oh cool!

[00:03:04] Hannah Levension: [00:03:04] So anyone that wants to do like a crop research, they have land there, you kind of rent it out. And actually the commissioner of the NCDA, he went to the UK or something and saw hedgerows and was like, "we need to bring that back to the US and start doing that to support insect and pollinator populations." And so he came back, he was very passionate about it, and he mandated that all of the research stations plant pollinator habitat. 

[00:03:29] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:03:29] Wow. 

[00:03:30] Hannah Levension: [00:03:30] Yeah, so that's how the whole thing started. And, my advisor, David Tarpy, learned about it and him and another coauthor of the grant, wrote up this project and the main goal was to see what actually happens when you plant this pollinator habitat. Is it actually doing something? The assumption would be yes, but like, let's actually measure and see how much impact we're having when we plant these plots. 

[00:03:53] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:03:53] Okay, let's get to that in a second. Describe what these plots are, like how big are they and what did [00:04:00] they plant and all those things? 

[00:04:01] Hannah Levension: [00:04:01] Yeah so they're a range of sizes depending on what the station wanted or could provide. So usually they plant them on otherwise unusable areas, which is great because then they don't have to mow or they don't have to throw down cover crops in that area - it's now wild flowers and basically manages itself, so it saves people's time. And probably keeps the soil better and stuff like that - people are looking into that. But they planted wildflower mix at some of the stations other stations planted other seed mixes such as sunflowers, which are really beautiful and cosmos and buckwheat. 

[00:04:39] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:04:39] So it was up to them to how to do it?

[00:04:41] Hannah Levension: [00:04:41] It wasn't supposed to be.

[00:04:43] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:04:43] Okay so tell us what it was supposed to be that's also kind of an intriguing part of the story. 

[00:04:48] Hannah Levension: [00:04:48] Yeah, the original idea was that every station across the state would plant the same wildflower seed mix, and they would also plant a region specific seed mix. So North Carolina generally is thought [00:05:00] of as three regions, mountain, Piedmont, and coast. And they would pick a region specific that some flowers that were supposed to do better there or whichever. And that didn't really end up happening it was hard to coordinate the seeding and getting the mixes and stuff. But we did end up getting almost every single station to seed in time to be a part of the study, which was already a big feat - organizing a lot of people. 

[00:05:23] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:05:23] I'm not being critical, I think it's amazing to get that level of coordination. I think you must be the only state with this really valuable, interesting kind of experiment going on - and I love the idea that they're all linked together through you, I guess!

[00:05:42] Hannah Levension: [00:05:42] Yeah, which is kind of crazy. You know, who knew it would turn into this - it's really exciting.

[00:05:50] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:05:50] I liked that original design and let's just explore that for a minute because that does allow a lot of research opportunities. What [00:06:00] if you just got the standard mix that you know everybody's using and would it be any different than if you did a regional mix? Like you could ask those kinds of questions. 

[00:06:08] Hannah Levension: [00:06:08] Exactly yeah. Yeah so it's a little unfortunate that didn't work out, but at the same time just the level of detail we're getting with sampling even one plot, like instead of sampling two, which would have doubled or tripled the time we spent at each station. But even just sampling at this one plot over time, we're getting so much data. It's really a huge database and it's hopefully going to be a good starting point for future research for a long time. 

[00:06:36] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:06:36] I can imagine, because it's really difficult, you know, obviously you would cross those regions and there's going to be shifts. Obviously in all of those regions, you're going to have some species that are the same, but they must shift - the community must shift as you go from region to region to region. 

[00:06:58] Hannah Levension: [00:06:58] Yeah, it does. And [00:07:00] that's actually one of the significant predictors of abundance and also diversity at my plots where the mountains are the most diverse, which is kind of expected - the mountains in North Carolina there's some biodiversity hotspots that are known there. So that was kind of expected. And then the Piedmont happens to be in the middle with the coast being the least diverse, so yeah, it definitely changes as you go across the state. Abundance is kind of scattered all over. It really depends on other factors, like not even just the plot - sometimes the seed didn't take, this year we had a lot of flooding and some of my sites got flooded out and the seeds just didn't take. So it takes a lot of factors all to get the plot in the end that I get to sample.

[00:07:46] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:07:46] Okay. Let's get to the research and just one second. So these plots, are they reseeded every year? Or are they kind of meant to be kind of, you know, plots that are going to be there every year and sort of change over time?

[00:08:00] [00:08:00] Hannah Levension: [00:08:00] Yeah, the original plan, again, science happens unexpectedly - things don't work out. The original plan was to seed every year. Some stations had better take than others, so they followed the seed mix label description, which was advertised to last for two years. So some stations seeded the first year, skipped the second year, and then seeded the third year. And some stations seeded all three years, which is unexpected, unplanned, and kind of even further fractures the data. It's going to complicate my end of the deal, but that's okay it's actually answering really interesting questions of how much input do you actually need to make a difference? Can you follow label instructions and that still is supporting bee populations, or do we really need to focus more effort?

[00:08:48] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:08:48] Now this is three years in when you started to look at things. 

[00:08:52] Hannah Levension: [00:08:52] Yes, yeah. I'm in my third year, I just finished sampling. I should get like the last bee bowl sample in the next week and [00:09:00] then we can start really digging into the data and analyzing - like spend a whole day and just analyze everything, that's my plan.

[00:09:06] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:09:06] A lot of pizza that night. 

[00:09:10] Hannah Levension: [00:09:10] Oh yeah and coffee.  

[00:09:14] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:09:14] So we will take a break. But before we get into that, can you lay out, as simply as you can, what are some of the big questions you're hoping to get out with this really remarkable design that has been presented to you? 

[00:09:27] Hannah Levension: [00:09:27] So the first is the small plot - sometimes they're less than an acre, sometimes they're an acre, sometimes they plant more than one plot so the total acreage is more than an acre. But in the scale of agriculture, that's very small. So do these small inputs actually support pollinators? Or how much more do we need to add to make a difference? Is the biggest question. And then the second question is really going through the state and documenting what species we have -  the last really great [00:10:00] documentation of our bee populations was back in like the fifties and sixties.

[00:10:05] And no one has really done a huge statewide thing like this before, and I have gotten, I think a few interesting species documentations. It's been really great to be able to actually document that, we have some invasives, other than people love to say, "they know the honeybee is not native here", but we've been finding several other non-natives that maybe haven't been documented in North Carolina before. So just knowing what's out there, what we need to learn about still - those are the two really big questions. And then the third one that has actually been added on later is pathogens that we're starting to measure at the plots. So the idea of all these species and all these bees being attracted to the same area, does this increased number of individuals affect their health at all? Are these plots enough to support their health? Like [00:11:00] different diversity of flowers, maybe that's better than others at supporting their health. So also looking at health factors as well. 

[00:11:06] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:11:06] So there's some of this built in variation that may help you get at least the first and the third question.

[00:11:13] Hannah Levension: [00:11:13] Yeah, definitely. 

[00:11:14] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:11:14] Okay, so let's take a quick break and we're going to come back and we're going to dive deep into how you're doing this. 

[00:11:20] Hannah Levension: [00:11:20] Great.

[00:11:38] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:11:38] And we're back. Okay so you talked about three things before the break. How many sites are they? 

[00:11:51] Hannah Levension: [00:11:51] I have sixteen.

[00:11:52] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:11:52] Holy wow, that's amazing. 

[00:11:55] Hannah Levension: [00:11:55] Yes yes. It's a lot. 

[00:11:57] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:11:57] So you talked about [00:12:00] looking at the effect of sizes. You've got size variation, and that could be important - it could say what's the minimum size to actually do something, which everybody wants to know.

[00:12:08] Hannah Levension: [00:12:08] Everyone wants to know. 

[00:12:10] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:12:10] The second question is, finally being able to use this as a really good tool for sampling across the state, because you've got it in all these different places. And then this other question about how these little patches function with pathogens. So walk us through how you hope to open these three questions up.

[00:12:30] Hannah Levension: [00:12:30] Yeah. So the first one, measuring the different plots and seeing what's most important - I'm really just getting into going through the statistics. And what I presented at this conference, I've already found a couple more different factors, so I can talk about it now. But the biggest factor so far is region, which that's nothing we did that's just the state, that's just learning about our state. 

[00:12:53] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:12:53] So when you look at the bees and the number of bees and the types of bees, regardless of [00:13:00] what's in the plots, that's really a strong determinant of the kind of bees you see there?

[00:13:04] Hannah Levension: [00:13:04] Definitely. So the diversity is way more in the mountains than the other regions of the state. And the abundance is a little different, but I think region still has an impact on that. And the second is, what year of the data we're looking at. So that just means as the plots get better, I'm assuming that they're providing better habitat in both the flowers are there so the bees know to come back, or they're nesting nearby or they're providing more nesting materials. So it seems that as the plots become more established, the bee populations also become more established. And then the third one is that planting type where some stations planted a diverse wildflower seed mix and then other stations planted a monoculture seed mix where it's just one kind of a flower. 

[00:13:49] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:13:49] So this is kind of interesting. So if you had like region, right, and you had like some monoculture somewhere that was not the primary driver of the bee [00:14:00] community - it was the region. It is something that has an effect, but it wasn't as big an effect as somebody might have thought. Isn't that interesting! 

[00:14:14] Hannah Levension: [00:14:14] Yeah and within that, even with the planting type I think I can break it down even finer than that. So I think that total acreage is going to end up also having an impact. So even though I'm only measuring the bees at the same small plot every year, I have been documenting total acreage because as other areas opened up on the stations - sometimes the stations have planted even more pollinator plots. So I know the total acreage at each station and that seems to be part of why planting type is important, is the total acreage is also part of that. 

[00:14:48] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:14:48] Okay, planting type - is it because they're correlated? People who have like a diverse [00:15:00] wildflower mix tend to plant me ore?

[00:15:02] Hannah Levension: [00:15:02] I think so. So all the stations have been so great to work with, they've all helped me so much. Some started out like way enthusiastic, they're like, "we're going to plant ten plots and we're going to do all this work" and they just like went above and beyond - and that's great! And then other sites, they still did great work and helped me, but they only planted one or maybe only two or three - and either way is fine. And for me, I just want to know what it does. But it does seem to have an impact, the total acreage at the site. 

[00:15:34] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:15:34] Okay, cool. Well, okay, so the next thing that you were interested in doing, which is really intriguing to us in Oregon because we are in our first year of really trying to come up with first baby steps towards coming towards the checklist. But it's really getting these sites in multiple places and having around, you've got staff there, you've got volunteers at the extension sites - and now you've got a consistent, you know, more or [00:16:00] less consistent set of flowers. So tell us how that's going and how you're sampling too? We haven't talked about that either. 

[00:16:06] Hannah Levension: [00:16:06] I'll start with that. So at all sixteen sites, I have a partner at the station that, they know to help me when I sample. And they are the ones that put out the bee bowls in the morning, and bee bowls are small plastic cups that are painted either blue, yellow, or white - and the colors we know that they're attractive to bees and we fill them with soapy water. Sorry we're going to talk about some bee deaths, it's sad, but it's science. And the soapy water and the colors attract the bees to the bee bowls and then they get trapped. But then we can figure out what's there. And so they're put out in the morning by my contact at each station around the perimeter of the plot, and then picked up at 3:00 PM in the afternoon, and then they send them to me to process.

[00:16:56] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:16:56] Okay. 

[00:16:56] Hannah Levension: [00:16:56] So that's at all sixteen sites. And then at twelve of the [00:17:00] sixteen sites, I along with help from my lab. My lab has been so great, I couldn't have done it without them. I always have help and we go out and we net by hand and catch bees for one hour - we do a netting survey. And so that's how we've been collecting them and working with these stations has been a really great experience. Some of them that I've been working with at the beginning didn't even know how diverse bees were, and now they can tell all their friends and family, they're so into it! 

[00:17:29] And we also now have a lot of great extension sites, so there's this new group forming in North Carolina, the North Carolina Pollinator Conservation Alliance -  and recently in September of this year, we had an outreach event where we we're showing people how pollinator plots would work, what is good to plant in them, impacts they can have. And since these sites have been there and they've been managed and they're up kept in great, we just had the extension or the outreach event there, and we already had everything set up for us, [00:18:00] so now we can use them for a lot of different things. Yeah, it's been really great. 

[00:18:05] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:18:05] That is so smart! And Oregon, I hope you're all listening out there, we should do this. 

[00:18:10] Hannah Levension: [00:18:10] That would be great. I would love everyone do it. Everyone have pollinator plots. Yeah, so it's been really great to have as a tool, and there's so many questions that you can ask here - I haven't even been looking at flies or butterflies and someone could look at that. Now there's this great network, we're trying to get more into the plants because that's a big question. Everyone always asks, "what do I plant?" And sadly, there's not yet a magical seed mix that's the perfect one that we can tell people. But we're starting to look more at like what's in the plots and other people at NC State and other universities are looking at different flowers, have different nutritional content. So we can start from many different angles trying to figure out what is the best to plant for bees. 

[00:18:57] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:18:57] Fantastic. 

[00:18:57] Hannah Levension: [00:18:57] Yeah. 

[00:18:58] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:18:58] Okay. So this last [00:19:00] question that you were interested in getting at was these diseases that bees can catch, and we've had previous episodes, we had Michelle Flanagan a couple of episodes ago talking about viruses.

[00:19:09] Hannah Levension: [00:19:09] Oh awesome, that's great. 

[00:19:10] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:19:10] And so we know, I think listeners go back and listen to it! So, yes in fact they can catch a cold, and move severe stuff too. So tell us, what are you going to do there? 

[00:19:22] Hannah Levension: [00:19:22] Yeah, so this is a really big topic right now, and a lot of people have different opinions. It can get kind of political in the bee world. So I hope to try to stay neutral, which I am neutral - I'm just trying to figure out what's happening out there because we need to know.  But so we have a lot of pathogens, which have traditionally been called honeybee pathogens - honeybees are very well studied for a long time, they're very easy to study, we can manage and manipulate them. And it's really easy to see in the colony when something is going wrong and then you can look and see why that's happening. [00:20:00] Sometimes we don't even know where the bees are nesting or if they're nesting in the ground. You can't just dig up a meter of ground to get the bees, so it's way harder to figure out what health impacts they have when they get a pathogen. So people are starting to really realize that this is something we need to look at. 

[00:20:17] And so we have a disproportionate level of knowledge with honeybees versus native bees on what pathogens they're facing and the health impacts that they have. So since we have this really great network set up across the state of pollinator plots, I thought it would be a missed opportunity if we didn't also measure pathogens since we have these samples readily available to us. So I'm starting with honeybees and seeing what pathogens our honeybees have in our sites, and then measuring a range of native bee species to see if there's any comparison or similarities between what I'm finding. And there's many papers that have looked at this before me, many other scientists. So a lot of [00:21:00] people know a lot more about this than I do, but they have found these pathogens in a wide range of even arthropods. So they're surprisingly everywhere, they're in a lot of native bee species, even butterflies even flies - people have found them in beetles, spiders and pollen.

[00:21:17] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:21:17] I remember Dr. Flanagan saying this when she was on, she was like, "yeah we commonly think about like, you know, only humans get this cold and you don't get it from your cat, but that's not how it works in invertebrates." They really don't respect your species boundary.

[00:21:32] Hannah Levension: [00:21:32] But that really seems to be the case - they're everywhere. This is not my, you know, skillset, but it'd be really great if someone could like sequence and figure out evolutionarily where these came from and how they're moving through these species. I think that's really how we're going to need to get to the bottom of it, but for now, we can really learn the health impacts that they're having.

[00:21:54] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:21:54] Well it does strike me that, you know, I really love this model as a [00:22:00] way to kind of get regional collections and, survey over time. Like, "oh, we've seen through the 2020's they were doing great, and in the 2040's something happened." So you've got that going but I also really liked that you can do regional disease. Like what if like only in this region of the state do you see this kind of disease, like those kinds of studies I've never seen done before.

[00:22:27] Hannah Levension: [00:22:27] Exactly, yeah. Yeah and we're not seeing a clear pattern, but different sites do have a different pathogen profile, I guess you could call it. And before I forget, something really interesting and what kind of took me by surprise - honeybees are not super common at my plot. So they're definitely at the stations. There are several sites that have colonies on the station, and I have one plot that's right next to my lab's apiary, and we always have about a hundred hives to do our research. And overall across the state, there are only about 4% of my sampling [00:23:00] population, which is really surprising to me, I didn't expect that. 

[00:23:03] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:23:03] When I think of North Carolina, I think of like a beekeeper around every corner. I think there are a lot of North Carolina beekeepers!

[00:23:07] Hannah Levension: [00:23:07] There are a lot of hobbyists. Yes, people really like to have just a couple in their backyard. Yeah and out of the hundred counties in North Carolina, this number might've gone up since the last time we checked, but at least seventy-five of the counties have a beekeeper association for that county.

[00:23:27] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:23:27] Wow. That is unbelievable! 

[00:23:29] Hannah Levension: [00:23:29] Yeah. It's an amazing network. Yes and they've been super supportive of my lab and this project, and everyone's starting to get into native bees and learning how to support them too. So it's really great. It's been a really great project to work on. 

[00:23:41] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:23:41] It is the same in Oregon, I know a couple of the beekeeping clubs like Lane County and Portland Urban Beekeepers - they've been really interested in native bee stuff and have their own programming and stuff that has been released. Yeah so it's a natural, they know a lot about bees already. They're like [00:24:00] people who could easily make the transition into being real experts in native bees. 

[00:24:06] Hannah Levension: [00:24:06] For sure. Yeah, but, so the pathogens I'm testing before I forget this too - so I'm starting with honeybees and there's not a clear pattern across the state, but there are definitely a couple sites that are way more pathogen heavy. They have five or six pathogens, and I'm testing individuals and I found individuals that have up to three pathogens in just one bee by itself. And then there's other stations that have one bee with one pathogen. So it's pretty diverse across the state. 

[00:24:37] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:24:37] That is very cool. 

[00:24:38] Hannah Levension: [00:24:38] Yes. And it doesn't seem to follow which sites have managed honey bees on there, a little bit, but not exactly. So I'm not sure hopefully we can figure that out more. And I've just started looking at native bees. I've tested a bumblebee species, Bombus impatiens and a carpenter bee species Xylocopa virginica - and [00:25:00] I am not finding the same pathogen profile. I'm just finding one pathogen, which is a common gut parasite that they have. It's probably specific to bumblebees and then there's another one that's specific to honeybees. So I'm going to be testing for species in a little bit here and hopefully see what that is. But so far, I'm not finding a match across the species, and I'm also processing samples from 2018 so we'll see if the across the years, the same pattern holds, which I'm excited to find out. 

[00:25:29] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:25:29] Holy smokes. You're doing a lot of work.

[00:25:31] Hannah Levension: [00:25:31] I know. I keep collecting projects. I'm so excited I can't stop myself. 

[00:25:37] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:25:37] Well we're really glad that you can't stop yourself. 

[00:25:41] Hannah Levension: [00:25:41] Yeah. 

[00:25:41] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:25:41] There is a lot of information that it going to come out of this. Let's take a quick break and we're going to come back and I got these questions, I ask everybody the same questions and I'll ask you!

[00:25:51] Hannah Levension: [00:25:51] Okay.

[00:26:05] [00:26:00] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:26:05] Okay. We are back. And so the first question we ask people is, is there a book that you like or want people to know about or just want to talk about? 

[00:26:15] Hannah Levension: [00:26:15] Yes. So one book that's a little technical kind of textbook like, but it's probably going to answer any question you have about native bees is Bees of the World by Charles Michener. Yeah, that one has been very helpful for me when I was just learning about all the different kinds of bees that are out there. This one is really great - it's a lot of information. 

[00:26:36] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:26:36] It is. It's readable too. Like it has like a lot of like background information and then you can get into the weeds of like, you know the most comprehensive key to the bees of the world.

[00:26:53] Hannah Levension: [00:26:53] Yes. 

[00:26:54] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:26:54] We have had people on and past episodes and thinking about an episode we did with Lincoln Best as well of the [00:27:00] importance of having regional keys, because in some ways that's really helpful but it can almost be that there's just too many. But man is it such a wonderful resource for anybody who's getting serious with their bee identification.

[00:27:14] Hannah Levension: [00:27:14] It really is. And then another one I just thought of that's a little less technical probably, is Bees in your Backyard.

[00:27:21]Andony Melathopoulos: [00:27:21] Oh yes.

[00:27:22] Hannah Levension: [00:27:22] It's a fun one. I follow them on Facebook, they post pictures every day, I love it. 

[00:27:28] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:27:28] We had Joseph Wilson on episode number two I think. 

[00:27:34] Hannah Levension: [00:27:34] Oh wow, just in the beginning. 

[00:27:36] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:27:36] I know we do need to get him or, Olivia back on the show. It's just such a great way to break down the barrier between this kind of intimidating stuff. 

[00:27:52] Hannah Levension: [00:27:52] It can be very intimidating. Even for me, when I was starting out, I was like, "how am I ever going to learn all this stuff?" 

[00:28:00] [00:27:59] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:27:59] I can't think of a better way to spend 28 bucks. 

[00:28:02] Hannah Levension: [00:28:02] No, it's a pretty good one and it's on bees. So anything with bees is great. 

[00:28:09] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:09] Like really seriously, if you don't have it just go buy it right now. I wouldn't say that for anything, but it's just like such a great book. 

[00:28:16] Hannah Levension: [00:28:16] Yeah. Lots of pretty pictures too. 

[00:28:18] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:18] The pictures are amazing. So I've heard that he has a little cube that he takes into the, you know, he just goes out and then what he does is he gets the bees, cools them, and he has this thing that he takes out. 

[00:28:32] Hannah Levension: [00:28:32] Oh that is smart! 

[00:28:33] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:33] He just shoots them right there. 

[00:28:35] Hannah Levension: [00:28:35] Oh yeah, that's smart. 

[00:28:35] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:35] That is why he has so many great pictures,

[00:28:37] Hannah Levension: [00:28:37] I need to try that out. That's impressive. That's all he does. That's impressive. 

[00:28:42] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:42] That's not all he does, he's a professor and he's worked on velvet ants. 

[00:28:45] Hannah Levension: [00:28:45] Oh my gosh. Yeah. I need to brush up on my photography skills. 

[00:28:51] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:28:51] You do realize that there is probably a lot of people who just heard what you were doing and they were like, "I don't know how she does it." All right, so the [00:29:00] next question is, is there a go to tool for the kind of work that you do? 

[00:29:03] Hannah Levension: [00:29:03] Yeah, there's one really great one that's also a little technical. There's a learning curve, but it's DiscoverLife, and that's really how I taught myself to identify bees. If you have a picture of one or you happen to have one, if you find one on the sidewalk at the end of the season and you can practice identifying it, that one has really helped me - I don't know what I would do without that. And then, if you just have a picture and you would like help from other people that might be more experts than you  bugguide.net - even just comparing pictures you have to pictures on there has been helpful as well. 

[00:29:40] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:29:40] So let me get this straight. So you'll take a picture of like, this feature. And you're posted there?

[00:29:46] Hannah Levension: [00:29:46] You can, yeah. It's like, I haven't personally, but it's, yeah, it's like a public forum. If you need help, you post one and people help you. And there's a lot of people that know a lot of stuff that, you know, help a lot of people out on there.

[00:29:59] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:29:59] That is so [00:30:00] great. Two really great tools. And the last question we have is, is there a pollinator that when you see, it may not be the most study worthy, but you're just like, "oh god, that is a nice-looking critter?" 

[00:30:13] Hannah Levension: [00:30:13] Oh yeah. I have two that I just love and they're kind of weird - they're parasitic bees. I don't know why I just think they're so cool and clever. They just, you know, they lay their eggs and other bees nests, and then those bees unknowingly provision their eggs and then they just go about their life and they don't build their own nests - and it's kind of crazy. But there's one where it's common name is the zebra bee and it really looks like a wasp at first. But the more you look at it, it's just like such deep, black and yellow, and it's still got the tubby bee shape and you know, it's soft and nice. I really love it. 

[00:30:50] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:30:50] What is the genus name?

[00:30:50] Hannah Levension: [00:30:50] It's Triepeolus. Yeah and then another one is Holcopedies and [00:31:00] I think it kind of looks like a dinosaur. It has like this pinkish red abdomen with white polka dots and stripes and they're so tiny, they're just like the tiniest little things. So when I find it, it's like a treasure.

[00:31:13] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:31:13] Say it again?

[00:31:14] Hannah Levension: [00:31:14] Holcopedies.

[00:31:15] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:31:15] Okay, that is a fabulous name. Well, fantastic. We will keep our eyes open for them and thank you so much for taking time to tell us about this fascinating project in North Carolina. 

[00:31:26] Hannah Levension: [00:31:26] Thank you. Thank you for asking me to be on here. I'm so excited to share it with everyone.

[00:31:40] Andony Melathopoulos: [00:31:40] 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 [00:32:00] featured in a future episode. You can also email us  at pollinationpodcast.oregonstate.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!


Hannah Levenson is a North Carolina native with a diverse research background ranging from working on reef degradation in The Bahamas to the impacts of pesticide applications on honey bee hives in South Dakota. Now she is a graduate student in Entomology with a co-major in Biology at North Carolina State University working under Dr. David Tarpy. She is currently conducting a state-wide survey on native bee populations across North Carolina, which will be the most detailed dataset in the state to date. One area of particular focus within this research is looking at impacts of conservation efforts on native bee populations over time as well as various pollinator interactions. Hannah’s project addresses a large knowledge gap on native bee populations and will aid in making future conservation decisions. After graduation she plans to continue a career in bee research and become more involved in international work.

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Links Mentioned:

Hannah’s Book Recommendation: The Bees in Your Backyard (Princeton University Press, 2015)

Go to tool: Discover Life Guide to Bee Genera, Buglife

Favorite Pollinator: Triepeolus, Holcopasites

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