On Wednesday, Randall Paul Cass, Extension Entomologist at Iowa State University presented an Iowa Learning Farms webinar. He discussed research being conducted at Iowa State University, which focuses on observing the challenges and opportunities for bees in Iowa’s agricultural landscapes.
Cass began by discussing some common misconceptions people may have about bees – including being able to identify bees that don’t look the way that most people expect bees to look. He went on to talk about native bees in Iowa and honeybees, which were introduced from Europe for honey production. Most native bees in Iowa are solitary bees that nest in the ground or in stems and many have more specialist relationships with native flowering plants than the introduced honeybees.
Because of Iowa’s annual crop production, limited forage availability and extreme weather conditions/changing temperatures, Iowa presents a challenging landscape for honeybees. Cass discussed research that has been done on how bee hive mass differs depending on the landscape (areas of high cultivation vs. areas of low cultivation) where the hives are placed. The study found that hives got heavier in areas of high cultivation (soybean fields), due to the availability of food resources for the bees from flowering soybean plants. This study also found that all hives, in both high and low cultivation areas, lost weight toward the end of the season.
The study led to a recent research project which looked at prairie vs. soybean field placement of hives – this project started with all hives placed in soybean fields and then after the beans had flowered, half of the hives were moved to a prairie environment. The study found that hive mass increased in the hives moved from the soybean fields to the prairie in late summer. Cass discussed other results from this study, related to insecticide treatments, as well as a survey conducted with landowners on their interest in perennial vegetation establishment, allowing beekeepers onto their property, and if they feel pollinator friendly practices are important.
To learn more about the research being done on bees and agriculture at Iowa State University, watch the full webinar here!
Join us next month, on Wednesday, November 20 at noon when Erika Lundy, Extension Beef Specialist, and Rebecca Vittetoe, Extension Field Agronomist, will present a webinar titled “ISU Research Focuses on Integrating Cover Crops for Grazing into Row Crop Enterprises”.