Episode 4: Policy and Ecosystem Services with Anahi Espindola


Intro: Hello and welcome to the whats the buzz podcast, a podcast about pollinators and the programs and policies that affect them. I am your host, Rachel Olsson, and today is July 19, 2016. I am recording from the Washington State University campus in Pullman, WA.

The buzz word: Ecosystem services

Buzz worthy news: The UN has begun to release summaries from their IPBES project. We are going to hear a bunch more about this  in our interview segment, but importantly, the pollinators and pollination chapter was one of the first chapters to be put in place because they are super important!

Research Updates: I'm about halfway through the 2016 field season. Western WA has been somewhat variable in terms of weather, so things have been a little dicey, but in general, I am making lots of observations of non-bee floral visitors, and collecting plenty of bumble bees! I'll be using these bees to determine how landscape affects the bees' overall health, and how their health affects pollination.

Interview: IPBES with Anahi

IPBES Website

Anahi's Website

Events: We have an event coming up on August 15th at Oxbow Farm in Carnation WA. We will be presenting a pollinator field day from 12-4pm. The field day will consist of a couple of short talks about research and monitoring pollinators, followed by some hands-on workshops on identifying pollinators, making field observations in your own farm or garden, and how pollinators can affect your growing space! If you have questions or would like to sign up, please follow @buzz_research on Twitter, as I'll be tweeting links once they are available.

Pollinator of the Day: Bombus vosnesenksii, or yellow faced bumble bee

These bumbles are present throughout the west coast of N America, from southern CA to British Columbia Canada. It is one of the most abundant species of bumble bees in the west and can be found in urban, suburban, and agricultural areas. They are my study species of bumble bees, and are downright adorable. They are generalist pollinators, and will feed on a variety of different types of pollen and nectar, but I commonly see them in CA poppy, on lavender, rosemary, phacelia, and dahlia. These are a few flowers you could plant in your garden if you want to attract these fuzzy little buddies! As a bonus, they are quite docile, and if they are cold (such as early in the morning), you can pretty easily pet them or give them a high-five. I wrote a whole blog article  about tickling bumble bees if you want more information.


Episode 3: National Moth Week with MaLisa Spring

Intro: Welcome to National Moth Week! Oops, I missed it by a couple days… July 18-26 2015. But you can still participate! 

The buzz word: some word used when discussion pollination: Floral Visitor vs Pollinator. What is the difference?

Buzz worthy news: We are in a drought. Western Washington is seeing one of the hottest, driest summers on record, California is in their 3rd year of a significant drought, and I'm sure this is happening all around the country. I wrote a blog post on the whats the buzz blog about how this is affecting pollinators, but I urge you to find out the state of the water supply in your area and do what you can to help your bees! Maybe that means put out a VERY SHALLOW pan with water for them to drink- I've heard a few people say they put fish tank marbles in the pan so the bees have somewhere to land without drowning (bees aren't good swimmers).

Research Updates: We have just finished the second part of the 3 part field season. Part 2, which was conducted over the majority of July saw a marked increase in the abundance and diversity of bees in the gardens and fields. It is very interesting to see the seasonal changes of the communities, for example, in the early season, we saw a lot of bumblebee queens, but in the mid season (part 2) I only saw a couple, but I did see a lot of newly emerged bumblebee adults and just a general increase in the overall diversity of bees. I'm very interested to see how the population will change in the September sampling- part 3. I won't be returning to the field for that portion, because I will be taking classes in the fall semester, but Eli will be heading back out with a couple of people to help.

Interview: I interviewed MaLisa Spring from Ohio State University in the Mary Gardiner Lab (who we heard from last time). Once again, I apologize for the sound quality- we recorded this one through Skype so it is very poor, but if you can lok past the bad sound, MaLisa had some really interesting things to say! On a side note, if you know a better way to record audio via Skype than hitting the record button and having a chat, please email me at whatsthebuzzresearch@gmail.com Follow MaLisa's updates: @entospring on Twitter

Events: As I mentioned, we just missed Moth Week (but you can still enjoy and appreciate all the beautiful moths around you). Our project has a few more CSI Bees classes in Seattle- I will share dates and locations for those in the next episode!

Pollinator of the Day: Cabbage butterfly Pieris rapae. Why am I choosing a butterfly when it is national moth week? For some reason, most people really like butterflies, but a lot of people really hate moths. It seems to be a dislike of moths flying at them, perhaps because their cell phone screen is lighting up the night? Cabbage butterflies are often called moths because people don't like them, and they can't imagine butterflies would do something so awful as to destroy their gardens, but I am here to set the record straight. Those little white butterflies flying around your broccoli bed are butterflies. As caterpillars, they can be significant agricultural pests to pretty much everything in the cabbage family, Brassicaceae (these include cabbage, obviously, broccoli, kale, radish, mustard, cauliflower, canola, brussels sprouts- pretty much all my favorite veggies!). As adults, the cabbage butterfly feeds on nectar, and is therefore a floral visitor. I've collected cabbage butterflies with pollen on their bodies- their underside is fuzzy so they are capable of moving small amounts of pollen. They might not be the most efficient pollinators, but they are doing their small part! 

End: This podcast is supported by a grant from the USDA, and thanks to a grant from WSARE, we will be able to keep it going! Thanks WSARE! If you want more information about the project, visit our website at whatsthebuzzresearch.com. You can contact me there with questions, or you can send an email to whatsthebuzzresearch@gmail.com. You can also follow the project on Twitter @buzz_research, or you can follow me @RLOlsson. Again, thank you so much for listening, and I hope you take a few moments this month to pay attention to the buzz around you!


Episode 2: National Pollinator Week 2015 and Interview with a Gardiner

Intro: National Pollinator Week: June 15-21 2015. For more information, visit www.pollinator.org.

The Buzz Word: Nectaring. Nectaring is the word used when a bee or pollinator is foraging for, or drinking nectar. Nectar is a sugary liquid produced by plants to attract bees, and it serves as an energy drink for the insect so that they have the energy to forage for pollen.

BuzzWorthy News: White House Pollinator Strategy- On May 19th 2015, the White House Pollinator Health Task Force released their strategic plan to improve pollinator health. This is a 64 page document outlining how the White House plans to work with public and private organizations to improve pollinator habitats, and protect pollinators from exposure to pesticides and other harmful substances. This is a great step in conservation, as many organizations will be able to use this document to develop their own methods for helping pollinators, and if the White house is urging pollinator conservation, this means there will be grant funding available to support programs  aiming to do this work. If you would like to read the Strategic Plan, click here. 

Research Updates: Part 1 of the season is done!  We have a 3 part season so that we can monitor the pollinators in the early summer, mid summer, and late summer. This allows to get a full season view of the communities and how they change throughout the year. We visited 35 farms and gardens in the Puget Sound area of Washington State and collected and observed the bee communities and the flowers they were visiting. The early season doesn't see a ton of different bees, but we expect to see the diversity go up quite a bit during the middle season survey which starts in just a couple of weeks!

Interview: Mary Gardiner of Ohio State University. You can find her through her lab's website and through her Facebook page: Ag Urban Landscape Ecology.

Events: National Pollinator Week Event- Seattle Town Hall with Eric Mader of Xerces Soceity. CSI Bees: Seattle events in Seattle area- the next events are July 18 and July 25. Check the events page for full details.

Pollinator of the Day: Bumblebees are in the family Apidae, and they are all in the same genus, Bombus. There are about 250 species of bumblebees in the world, primarily occurring in the norther hemisphere, but they can also be found throughout south America, New Zealand and Tanzania. Bumblebees are very common in most landscapes. Queen bumblebees spend the winter hibernating, and they are the first to emerge in the spring. You can tell a queen from a worker because the queens are very large. When queens emerge in early spring, they first look for a place to build a nest, and they look for food. Once a queen has built her nest, she begins to forage for pollen. She will use this pollen to feed to her larvae. The larvae hatch from eggs laid by the queen, and eat the pollen. They grow, pupate, and then emerge as adults and become workers for the queen. Once the queen has a few workers, she stays in the nest and begins to spend her time laying more eggs, while the workers leave the nest to collect pollen for the next batch of larvae. The queen and workers all work together to raise more offspring together, collect food, and protect the nest. Bumblebees are excellent pollinators because they can carry a lot of pollen, they like to visit a lot of different flowers, and, because they are large, they can withstand cooler weather, so they are able to come out earlier in the day and stay out later into the evening. They can also do something called "buzz pollination" which is where they vibrate their bodies to shake pollen loose from flowers. Some plants, like tomatoes, require this buzz pollination to create fruits, so without bumblebees, there would be no tomatoes!

End: This podcast is supported by a grant from the United State Department of Agriculture. If you would like to learn more, you can find the show notes, blog, events, and research information at www.whatsthebuzzresearch.com. You can follow Whats The Buzz on Twitter @buzz_research, and you can follow me, @RLOlsson. If you have a question or a comment, you can email me at whatsthebuzzresearch@gmail.com or you can click on the Contact Us button on the website. Next month we will be discussing moths for national moth week! If you like the show, please leave a review on iTunes or share the show with your friends! In the mean time, try to get out and find a Pollinator Week event, plant some flowers, and listen for the buzz! Thanks for listening!

Episode 1: What's The Buzz?

Posted May 1, 2015: This is our first episode, so please excuse us while we work out the kinks! We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

Intro to the Show

About Rachel

Purpose of the project

About the Research: Updates! Since we are just about to start the field season, we don't have much to update but we will be posting photos and updates on our blog, and you can follow us on Twitter!


  • Lauren Smith of Oregon State University
  • Skyler Burrows and Marirose Kuhlman of MPG Ranch in Montana


  • We will be attending the Seattle Town Hall event on June 17, 2015 where Eric Lee Mader of the Xerces Society will be speaking on pollinator conservation in urban communities. Tickets are just $5 and are available through the Seattle Town Hall website. More information can be found at the Facebook Event page, and the Seattle Town Hall website!

One Minute Pollinator of the Day: 

  • Syrphid flies or Hoverflies: Syrphids are flies (order Diptera) that often mimic bees and wasps. As adults, they are excellent pollinators, and can contribute highly to pollination. As larvae (babies), they are predatory against many types of pest insects, including aphids and moth larvae that eat vegetables and other crops. These little guys (and gals) are doing double duty in your garden or on your farm! Not all flies are irritating picnic menaces! 

Thank you

  This podcast is supported by a grant from the USDA.