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Ohio Pollinator Habitat Development, Protection and Education

Tew, James
Ohio State University
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End date
One of the primary reasons for the decline in bee populations in Ohio is a shortage of nest cavities and nest sites. Beneficial insect pollinators are frequently destroyed by home owners and land owners for simply nesting in the wrong place.

This project will develop recommendations and protocols for use by concerned individuals who are interested in protecting pollinators and providing protected habitats. These protected areas, of varying sizes, are being called pollinator islands. Additionally, this project will engage in a state-wide education and outreach plan to educate Ohio citizens about the importance of pollinators to natural ecology and production of Ohio crops.

More information
Non-Technical Summary: This project will investigate properties of pollination islands that will best support pollinators in a variety of ecological systems. The information will be released to interested individuals (homeowners, teachers, growers of agricultural crops etc.) so that they can contribute to the statewide effort to increase pollinators across the state. Thirty percent of Ohio crops are pollinated by honey bees. However, due to a variety of circumstances, Ohio growers are forced to import bees from other states to meet the pollination needs of Ohio growers. This further increases the likelihood of invasion of bee parasites and pathogens, further reducing the abilty of domestic bees to supply Ohio's pollination needs. The research undertaken in this project will help to reverse the decline of honey bee hives which has fallen from 300,000 hives in 1960 to 15,000 in 2010. As part of this overall effort, we will erect two Pollinataria---one at OARDC and one in Columbus (negotiations are currently underway witih COSI)---to provide education and outreach services to Ohio citizens about the importance of pollination. Targeted audiences include K-12 students, teachers, gardeners and growers of agricultural crops. Visitors will learn about the importance of pollination through displays, live demonstrations and written materials provided by the pollinataria. Visitors will be surveyed to determine the effectiveness of the displays and to assess future needs.

Approach: The research conducted under this project will examine variables to be optimized in the construction of pollinator islands that functionally are safe, undisturbed arease that will provide nesting sites for pollinators to multiply. These areas will vary in size depending on space availability. This project will develop procedures for optimally supporting pollinator growth and reproduction. Specific research objectives include: 1) Develop the primary characteristics of the pollinator island that provides a safe area for pollinators; 2) To develop recommendations and procedures for use by concerned individuals; 3) To increase the population of pollinators; 4) To provide a simple, ecological system that helps satisfy the concerns of individuals who want to be helpful; 5) To establish two Pollinataria as free-standing educational facilities to educate K-12 students, parents, teachers, gardeners and growers of agricultural crops about the importance of pollinators.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Education and Training
Natural Toxins