Opening up the conversation on pollinators at the TWS conference

©Paul VanDerWerf

September will be here before you know it, and as summer transitions into fall, The Wildlife Society will be hosting its 24th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over the next several months, we’ll be highlighting pieces of our educational and training program. With a record number of submissions this year and several new opportunities, you’ll have well over 900 special educational sessions and events to choose from.

New this year is our special session Partnerships for Healthy Pollinators, a one-hour event that will open up the conversation on contemporary and future pollinator health.

“We saw that there was a real appetite among members, or even followers—people who weren’t members of The Wildlife Society but following them on social media and things—to really learn more about pollinators,” said Dr. Becky Langer, project manager of the North America Bayer Bee Care Program and co-organizer of the session. “And there seemed to be a gap, if you will, on that being covered at previous conferences… there just hadn’t been a real highlight of it in the past.”

The session will use last fall’s national planting tour—another collaborative conservation effort between TWS and Bee Care—as an example of how partnerships can and are benefitting pollinators from coast to coast.

Langer’s talk during the session will focus on how partnerships across North America to get pollinator forage implemented and in the ground. Sometimes, she says, that comes in the form of individuals, and in other cases it comes in the form of organizations such as TWS using its extensive communication network. Still other partnerships with golf courses, state departments of transportation, farmers and more allow for pollinator-friendly, on-the-ground planting efforts.

Representing Texas Tech University’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, one of the stops on Bee Care’s national planting tour, Dr. Scott Longing will also present during the session. Longing will speak specifically to the Lubbock-based-university’s experience with the collaborative conservation effort in a region geographically relevant to the location of the conference. TTU demonstrates a partnership of critical interest since pollinators’ contributions to crop yields and threats to biodiversity on the highly fragmented southern high plains have been dramatically understudied.

It’s easy to understand why pollinators, including bees, have captured the hearts of many over the past couple of years when one considers that they provide us with many of the fruits, nuts and vegetables we like to eat, as well as many of the beautiful plants we enjoy in our everyday landscapes.

To perform these important duties, bees need to be healthy and well-fed. Unfortunately, much of our native land is being lost to urbanization and conversion to row groups to feed our growing population, and this can affect the pollinators’ diets. Ultimately, this means we must use our land more wisely, in such ways as establishing pollinator forage and habitat along roadsides and fence lines, in utility rights of ways, on golf courses and even on roof tops.

From a better understanding of the associations of habitat resources, landscapes and agricultural practices, partners hope to assist producers in sustaining pollination services in crops, while developing information to support the conservation of broader pollinator biodiversity in the region. This session will present an more in-depth looks at pollinator partnerships and how they can address critical questions from a geographic basis while building community education and interest.

Bayer Bee Care is a Strategic Partner of The Wildlife Society.