Here is a link to the said documents.
Below the cut is the transcript of the responses. I find them extremely valuable to my research and hope to continue to have more insightful conversations with her following today.
I work for The Xerces Society fir Invertebrate Conservations as a Pollinator Conservation Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. This is a joint position with the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), for which I am a partner biologist. (Sort of a confusing position, if you need clarification let me know). The main focus of my position is providing technical support to farmers, landowners, NRCS, other conservation organizations, etc., on planning, installing, managing, and maintaining habitat for pollinators. Pollinators are listed as a priority in the Farm Bill and the USDA NRCS has developed conservation programs and practices to conserve pollinators. My role is to help get these practices on the ground.
I have a M.S. in Entomology from Iowa State University, where I conducted small plot and farm scale research, collaborating with organic and conventional farmers, on the development of best practices for conserving beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes. I have always been fascinated with biodiversity and ecological function, which led me to focus on beneficial insects and the ecosystem services they provide to wildlife and humans.
What kind of projects have you done in the past related to pollinator conservation?
My graduate research focused on creating conservation plantings that attract and conserve pollinators and other beneficial insects (natural enemies of insect crop pests). We evaluated several plant mixes that ranged in plant diversity, floral abundance, and other characteristics to determine which combination of species and characteristics were most attractive to beneficial insects and least attractive to pests. I also conducted several pollinator surveys in conventional/organic crops and natural lands (such as reconstructed prairies).
What are the main issues of pollinators (if possible, bees specifically) right now?
There are many issues and it depends on what ‘pollinator’ you are referring to…honey bees, wild, native bees, butterflies, etc. The one thing that is impacting all groups of pollinators is habitat loss. Urbanization and agricultural expansion have reduced the amount and quality of habitat (floral resources, nest sites) available to support diverse pollinator populations. Another factor, that we are learning more about, is the use of pesticides, especially insecticide.
What steps should people take to conserve bee populations? What about the government?
People can plant a diversity of flowers (no matter how big or small the space they have). Regional plant lists are available on our website http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-resource-center/ . These are the best plants for bees. The government (through the Farm Bill) is providing technical support (through positions like the one I currently hold) and many of the programs offer financial support for pollinator conservation. This means that the government will share the cost of implementing these pollinator conservation practices with farmers that are eligible.
Do you believe that honeybees are also a problem to the decline of native bees? Why or why not?
No. I do not think they work against each other if that is what you are asking. We need a diversity of pollinators; honey bees and our native bees. Out native bees, in many cases, are more efficient pollinators than honey bees on a per-bee basis, but they (native bees) are not able to be transported and supplied to blooming crops in the numbers honey bees can be. That is why we need to do a better job supporting native bees in our landscape.
Are there any urban/sub-urban areas/case studies in the U.S. that have heavily emphasized pollinator conservation? How has it impacted both the bees and people there?
I’ll send some along.
What kind of advice would you give to someone interested in pollinator conservation? Or just conservation in general?
Learn about the current natural resource concerns. We depend on the resources that nature provides and we need to sustain and protect these services (such as the provisioning of food, fiber, materials for shelter, etc.). Pollinators are a keystone species and plant reproduction, seed and fruit production, wildlife, and the human food supply rely on pollinators, especially bees.