An entomologist spoke Friday afternoon about different types of bees and how residents can help them at the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
Sarah Kincaid, from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, is spearheading the Oregon Bee Project, a joint effort between her department and Oregon State University that’s seeking solutions to problems facing pollinators in the state.
Following her presentation, an audience member asked if the bee population was still declining. Kincaid replied that in 2006 there was a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, which killed off a large portion of bees but affected only the honey bee population.
“The thing about honey bees, though, is that when we have a decline, we can just produce more,” she said. “However, we still do have a decline with native bees worldwide.”
The honey bee is not a native species to Oregon, or even to the United States, as it was imported by the pilgrims for food production, she said.
While native bee numbers are declining in Oregon, it’s a less rapid decline than in the rest of the world. Kincaid attributed that to the variety of crops grown in the state, which means that bees enjoy a variety of food during different seasons. She also attributed the less rapid decline to the state’s vast natural expanses of bare ground, where the majority of native bee species nest. There are an estimated 500 species of native bees in Oregon, she said.
Kincaid also offered tips on ways people can use bee-friendly gardening practices at home. One involved planting a variety of native flowers. When planting non-native species, she said, the simpler the flower the better.
“While this may be really pretty for us, it is really confusing for a bee,” Kincaid said.
She also encouraged gardeners to plant flowers that bloom at different times. “This provides an array of food for all the seasons,” she said.
Residents were also encouraged to be diligent about pesticides. If spraying is necessary, Kincaid said, they should make sure they aren’t using any long-lasting chemicals, and target a specific area, away from neighboring flowers and weeds.