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Logan hosts the Annual Orchard Bee Association meeting

A female blue orchard bee forages for nectar and pollen on <em>Phacelia tanacetifolia</em> flowers, also known as blue or purple tansy. Blue orchard bees are solitary bees that help pollinate California's almond orchards.
Josh Cassidy
/
KQED
A female blue orchard bee forages for nectar and pollen on Phacelia tanacetifolia flowers, also known as blue or purple tansy. Blue orchard bees are solitary bees that help pollinate California's almond orchards.

Orchard bee emergence sound.. 

That was an orchard bee emerging from a nest in early spring. They are found across the world and some species are even being used agriculturally because of their effective pollination on fruit trees. Osmia lignaria, the native species of orchard bee used in the US, is commonly referred to as the Blue Orchard Bee.

Lindsie McCabe is a postdoctoral fellow at the USDA Bee Lab in Logan and works with orchard bees for her research.

McCabe explaines: “They are these early spring flying pollinators. They have a really great affinity to rosaceous plants and this encompasses a lot of our fruit trees, especially the early flowering fruit trees, such as cherries, pears, plums, and apples.”

The Orchard Bee Association is a team of independent businesses, orchard managers, and researchers to accelerate the production and use of orchard mason bees in various spring crops and orchards. Serving as treasurer, McCabe speaks about why this association is so important.

“So it's estimated that one in three of our bites are pollinated by some sort of bees, we're out producing the number of crops that need honeybees... We need to come up with an alternate pollinator to ensure food security,” says McCabe. 

McCade says their annual meeting, held September 29 through October 1, will help expand the knowledge of these bees and discuss the future of management with mason bees.

“It's a mix of growers, producers, and researchers who all come together to share their insights and knowledge of the orchard bee industry...We highly encourage anyone who's really interested in alternative pollinators for their crops to come,” McCabe says.

Visit the Orchard Bee Association website to reserve a ticket and to learn more about orchard bees.

Colleen Meidt is a Science Reporter at UPR as well as a PhD student at Utah State University. She studies native bees in the Mojave Desert and is particularly interested studying the conservation status of the Mohave Poppy Bee. In her free time, Colleen enjoys photography and rock climbing in the canyons.