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Pollination Ecology

bullet After 20 years of research, growers can manage much M. rotundata mortality.
bullet Bees from Canada are inexpensive, reducing incentive to manage for high bee return.
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After 20 years of research, many possible solutions have already been tried. Methods have been devised that focus on sanitation; they are often labor intensive.

The alfalfa seed industry achieved a major boost in yield when growers first began to manage solitary bees, but improvements in management that are developed now amount to fine tuning the system.

I believe that the problems that prevent growers from obtaining a sustainable yield of bees in their own fields: pollen balls, chalkbrood, parasites, etc., can’t be solved in isolation. There are no “solutions” to specific problems in a dynamic, complex system. Rather, there are tradeoffs that can be optimized for particular goals. In this case the goal is to maximize profit without compromising future profits. (see my research philosophy)

On starting this job, I felt that I was unlikely to devise more effective methods for managing isolated bee problems than had already been devised or were being researched by colleagues (although I have been keeping my eyes open for potential promising ideas). Rather, I felt that a new approach to research on this problem had to center around understanding the interactions between the bees and their flower resources.