- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Williams will speak Feb. 28 on On-Farm Pollinator Benefits for Watermelon Pollination. Williams, an associate professor of pollination and biology and a Chancellor's Fellow, serves as the faculty co-director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and is a member of UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute. His applied research addresses the integration of wild and managed bees for pollination of diverse agricultural crops including seed production, row crops and orchards.
His research addresses a series of questions:
- Under what contexts, in terms of local management and landscape context, can native pollinators provide sufficient pollination for different crops?
- How can we enhance habitat and diversify agricultural systems to promote managed and wild bees?
- Do pollinators like honey bees and wild bees interact in ways to increase the overall effectiveness of crop pollination?
The answers to these questions help alleviate the stress placed on honey bees, Williams says, and also "inform ways to more sustainability manage agricultural systems to promote biodiversity and production."
Williams worked extensively in agro-ecosystems in California's Central Valley and in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A continuing goal is to provide practical information that can be used to improve the long-term stability of pollination for agriculture in California, as well as promote pollinator conservation and management. His work in the East and West has helped form the basis for pollinator conservation planting guidelines.
All speakers will discuss their research, and engage with the audience, said webinar co-coordinator Katharina Ullmann, national crop pollination specialist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis (studying with major professor Neal Williams). Co-coordinator is Extension apiculturist and professor John Skinner of the University of Tennessee.
The webinar series will examine the role of wild bees, honey bees and other managed bees in supporting crop pollination and yield in almond, blueberry, tree fruit, pumpkin, and watermelon. Each webinar will be 45-60 minutes long, with time for questions and a discussion with the presenter. Each registered attendee will later receive a link to the slides.
"The majority of U.S. specialty crop growers depend on bees for pollination of their crops," Ullmann said. "Growers know that without adequate pollination, they would not be profitable. But what are the best pollination strategies for fruit, vegetable, and nut crops? What farm management practices can growers use to support bees and the crop pollination they provide?"
To register, attendees can click on each link:
- Jan. 24, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Ensuring Almond Pollination (Theresa Pitts-Singer, USDA-ARS and Utah State University)
- Jan. 31, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Pollinating Highbush Blueberries: Bees Bring Bigger Berries (Rufus Isaacs, Michigan State University)
- Feb. 14, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Pollinating Apples and Cherries East of the Rockies (Julianna Wilson, Michigan State University)
- Feb. 28, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: On-Farm Pollinator Benefits for Watermelon Pollination (Neal Williams, University of California, Davis)
- March 21, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Ensuring Pumpkin Pollination (Shelby Fleischer, Pennsylvania State University)
- March 28, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: How to Manage Solitary Orchard Bees for Crop Pollination (Theresa Pitts-Singer, USDA-ARS and Utah State University)
The webinar series will be hosted by eXtension.org, an online Cooperative Extension network. The webinars are free and open to the public and can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.
For more information about the webinar series, access the Bee Health eXtension.org website or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Funding for the webinar series will be provided by the Integrated Crop Pollination Project, a USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grant (#2012-51181-20105). Plans are to offer continuing education credits for certified crop advisors.