UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An eight-part webinar series developed by Penn State Extension aims to teach people all about bees, discussing topics as diverse as colony survival, queen bee rearing and transforming one’s garden into a pollinator-friendly habitat.
“The main goal of this series is to provide basic knowledge about bee biology, the importance of pollinators, the problems they face and how they can be managed,” said Margarita López-Uribe, assistant professor of entomology and scientist with the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State.
“Our hope is that, by the end of the series, participants of this webinar will be more knowledgeable about bee biology in general, and will be able to use this knowledge to manage bees and enhance habitat for bees and other pollinators,” she said.
The series, which began June 3, has attracted a great deal of attention, with more than 2,000 people from 16 countries registering for the first session. Though the first two sessions have taken place, the recordings are available to new or returning registrants.
“The feedback we have received so far is that the topics are providing new and interesting information to many participants, and, for others, are broadening their understanding about the biology and ecology of bees,” López-Uribe said. “We are starting with basic topics, but we hope that we can provide more advanced topics in the future. Given the great turnout so far, this series may be extended into the fall.”
She offered reasons why the series might be appealing to people now, noting that extension’s online course, “Beekeeping 101,” has tallied more than 30,000 registered participants.
“Beekeeping or gardening for pollinators are activities that can be done safely while social distancing,” López-Uribe said. “These activities can bring some extra revenue to households or can provide environmental benefits by creating more habitat for pollinators.”
The free pollinator series continues weekly through July 22. Webinar topics, times and dates are as follows:
–“Pollinator Health Challenges: A Bee’s Perspective.” Several bee populations are in decline around the globe. Like for many other animals and plants, the drivers of bee declines include habitat destruction, exposure to pesticides, increased pathogen burden and climate change. This seminar explains how these stressors impact bee health throughout each step of the bee’s life cycle. The presentation was held June 3. To view, visit https://extension.psu.edu/
–“Pollinator Health Challenges for Long-term Survival.” Honey bee colony management is essential for survival throughout the year. This seminar gives information about how to manage queen issues, how to monitor and treat for varroa mites, and how to prevent starvation in winter. The presentation was held June 10. To view, visit https://extension.psu.
–“Queen Rearing Basics.” Overview of working with queens as part of apiary management, queen biology, rearing to increase successful outcomes for beekeepers. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. June 17. To register, visit https://extension.psu.edu/
–“Bee Nutritional Ecology: From Flowers to Landscapes.” We know bees need to collect nectar and pollen from flowers, but which flowers provide the best food for bees? This seminar will describe studies at the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research aimed at answering this question and will provide steps you can take to learn about the floral resources in your gardens and surrounding landscapes. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. June 24. To register, visit https://extension.psu.edu/
–“Mason Bee Management for Backyard and Orchard Pollination.” Mason beekeeping is a fun and easy way to harness the pollination power of solitary bees for agricultural producers and backyard gardeners alike. This seminar will describe the mason bee life cycle and provide instruction on how to manage them sustainably and responsibly. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. July 1. https://extension.psu.edu/
–“Bumble Bee Biology and Management for Pollination.” Gardeners, farmers and bee enthusiasts alike will benefit from learning more about bumble bees and why they are important to ecosystems. This seminar will provide recommendations for landscape management to support these pollinators and discuss the commercial bumble bee industry. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. July 8. To register, visit https://extension.psu.edu/
–“Bee Biodiversity in Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania is home to more than 430 species of bees but who are they? How are they different from each other? Are all species native to North America? How can you help conserve bees? You will find answers to these questions in this seminar. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. July 15. https://extension.psu.edu/
–“Gardening for Pollinators.” Learn how to maximize your garden’s potential for supporting a variety of pollinators, especially bees, which require specific nesting habitats and a broad range of flower shapes and types to thrive. Also learn some of the best plants to include in your pollinator-friendly yard, tips on planting, and how you can certify your Pennsylvania Pollinator-Friendly Garden. The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. July 22. To register, visit https://extension.psu.edu/
About Penn State Extension
Penn State Extension is dedicated to translating scientific research into real-world applications to drive progress. In support of Penn State’s land-grant mission, extension programs serve individuals, businesses and communities, while promoting a vibrant food and fiber system, a clean environment, and a healthier population in Pennsylvania and beyond. With support from federal, state and county governments, the organization has a tradition of bringing unbiased information and support to the citizens of Pennsylvania for more than 100 years.
–Amy Duke, Penn State University