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RAW: Identify 5 Bees + 10 tips to Use In Your Garden Tomorrow | PolliNation Podcast | Dr. Andony Melathopoulos | Assistant Professor Pollinator Health Extension | Corvallis, OR
4th May 2019 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:39:05

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Do you want to know how to recognize Bees in your garden and neighborhood? Do you want to plant flowers that will invite more bees to your garden? I’m super excited because for Earth Week, it’s April 27,2019. I have the Assistant Professor Pollinator Health Extension from the Department of Horticulture | Oregon State University, Dr. Andony Melathopoulos from the Pollination Podcast!

Oh there’s more then one bee?! When I do master gardener training is I help people identify 5 bees that are in North America. When you garden for bees it gets kind of complicated. If you can identify these 5 bees then you can go visit a neighbor’s garden and say oh! I see that bee on this plant.

Identify 5 Bees |  10 tips to use in their garden tomorrow cheat sheet

Pollinator Habit

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m in beautiful Oregon

looking out the window in Oregon

  • Horthornes are just starting to come into bloom
  • Ceanothus the California Lilac

Tell me about your first natural or gardening experience? How did you fall in love with horticulture?

I was an urban kid, I remember I come from a Greek immigrant family. I remember my aunts and uncles having great tomatoes and going to Greece and the produce there that just  tastes wonderful.

I remember starting to do it myself in my late 20s in the most northern part of Canada

In the Peace River District where we would get a frost August first so we grew a lot of Kale!

Where is that? Nova Scotia or the Yukon?

It’s mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. It’s the most northern growing area in the US.

the one things that lovely when it hits solstice.

sun dips down around three and then just pops up again

You get this really long exceedingly quick and rapid growing season It’s amazing!

The downside is you’re always dodging the frost

One year I had the audacity to grow tomatoes and the ones that grew they were the size of a marble I was like  I’m learning! 

What could you grow? Could you grow potatoes?


frost pocket

I was working at the aG Canada research stations

It started because it was so far from anywhere the idea was to make people self sufficient

  • prairies
  • Northern climate

fruit trees

  • hapscas
  • apple orchard

You have to adapt your gardening for it, it’s tricky, but there are ways to get around things. People were always pushing your envelope

For me as a beginning gardener I struck to the fundamentals

  • great garlic
  • tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes maybe but doing real tomatoes was beyond my pay grade at the time.

Me too, I stick to cherry tomatoes in Montana.

Tell us about the bees

This is how I start it off

the first thing we are confronted with these plant lists. You can go anywhere on the internet and type pollinators and plants and they spit out these lists

problem with the lists

they’re ok

There’s lots of good plants on them

But there are a lot of bees!

there are not just honey bees

yellow jackets

I get calls all the time

  • yellow jackets
  • hornets

different groups bees and wasps are closely related

thing with bees

You can always tell a bee

if it’s carrying pollen on it’s body

not all bees do

BUT IF YOU SEE a lump of pollen on an insect flying through the air it’s a bee!

Their protein comes from pollen! They’re vegetarians!

BEES! No other insect that relies on pollen and nectar and for it’s life!

radical turn towards the flowers


yellow jackets and hornets are not bees

What’s a bee?


bumble bees 

mason bees (you had a great episode on mason bees!)

There are 800 bees

Colletes Cellophane bees

If you go on your goldenrod

little specs with a white dot on their face you’d never think they were bees 

they’re so small!

You would never think they are bees

If you go to your golden rod in the late summer

you’ll see a spec with a dot

little critters going from flower to flower those are bees

It’s intimidating

They’re not going to be out at the same time of year

coming out at different times of year

just getting a plant list aint gonna cut it you are going to need to pay attention to the bees in your backyard!

I can five you today special

Once you see those five bees, then you can poke around your neighborhood and say this bee is on that flower and start to fill out your garden with plants that are really specific to your area

  • don’t have pest problems
  • available for nurseries
  • local seed growers are growing them

come up with something that works!

Awesome! is that including the tiny one we can’t see? or five others?!

So I gave you six! Bonus just for you!

I would start first of all there’s some confusing things because lots of people want to trade on the bee brand

  • wasps sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart
  • flies

You have these beneficial flies join your garden

number of genera that look like bees

look at their heads and legs

Bees have chunky back legs. Usually it’s where they carry their pollen

females do, some carry on their bellies

If you look at their heads they have branched antenna sort of elbowed and it sticks out a way

Flies have a nubby antenna

  • head is almost entirely eye balls
  • fly that looks bee like usually their abdomen is thin like a ribbon
  • a lot of flies hover

hover flies

great bio control for aphids every organic gardener should be watching for these 

real sign that maybe aphid potion

they will hover

Bees don’t hover they dart around

flies and wasps look like them

There’s a couple of things that look like them

flies and wasps

First is a honey bee everyone knows, kind of iconic

  • not yellow and back like a wasp
  • striped on the back
  • light part is leathery brown to kind of gray

real like the bumble bees

pull out

They carry polling a little basket

The females have a spoon on their back leg so they pack the pollen, so it looks like a little lentil

Only bumble bees and honeybees do this

Everyone knows the bumble bees they’re really fuzzy!

Only thing you can get confused with in the southern US are carpenter bees that looks a little similar

look a little

clear difference 

bumble bees are gonna carry pollen in their back legs.

Bumble bees big and furry in a few places carpenter bees look like them

got it

lentil shaped pellets

  • honeybees

  • bumblebees

In Oregon we have close to 30 different species all have different color patterns. Carrying pollen in their back legs.

I just have a quick question about the flies? You want the flies, or if you see the flies you should be concerned because you’re getting aphids or it’s a good thing because if you have aphids they are eating them?

The adult flies are not the aphid controllers. It’s the larve

A lot of the same flowers that attract the bees are going to feed those adults so to find those aphids they are going to run off nectar. They go to your flowers looking for nectar and poppin off aphids!

If you start to see them pop up in density, check your plants out 

There’s a lot of good aphid controlling insects. It’s one of the 

(I’m not a pest management expert)

one of the easiest things to control organically with natural predators if you wait a bit they are going to find them

  • lay eggs
  • hoover them up like PacMan
  • eat aphids like nuts!

They’re good and any of the garden tips are really generalists will go to shallow flower to nectar

When you see them and check the plants out if they are hovering around something if you see them you may say omgosh the aphids!  they are going to take care of your aphids.

The next bee you talked about a group you talked about in a previous episode

It’s a big group. 


I keep picturing Bee Movie and the Pollen Jocks

I love it that Jerry Seinfeld had one thing, after he finished Seinfeld there was one project he wanted to do,  which was make the BEE Movie.

Because of Bee MOVIE when I’m down there watching our bees I notice the pollen jocks. We have had a hard time with keeping honeybees alive. I think it’s because my neighbors spray pesticides but we’re not sure.

Honey bees are tricky.

So many things you can do. bees do

  • cut comb honey
  • queens
  • divide them

There are all sorts of tools

We had a great episode with Kim Flottom from 


bee culture

He just talked about the history of bee keeping, there is an amazing long history of people keeping bees! It’s amazing!

tricky business

pesticide use

we have a survey where we don’t ask beginning bee keepers why they are not successful. Most often they don’t feed them enough

80% of the situations the colonies run out of food

He started a magazine called

beekeeping in your first three years

often times

If you think your gonna watch some youtube

It really does require mentorship, it’s tricky to get up and running. You can have these problems like a neighbor who sprays pesticide

any gardening

You need a strong skill set to pull it off

I always worry there’s a lot of people getting into bees because of conservation purposes.

I am not going to convince you

  • rich habitat
  • more

Don’t want to persuade anyone from beekeeping.

We were talking about bumble bees

moest bees are solitary

There’s no queen. A little nest not very big

no nest mates one female doing all the work


When you’re doing honeybees you’re like I know about bees

no, no, no

All the rest of the bees are so different in the ways! They’re all collecting bees.

That interview I did with Olivia from Mason bees? Do you think we will have more success with the honeybees.

Out there in Montana.

I’m an albertan

run out of state

Montana and Alberta honey is some of the nicest on the planet

It’s so mild it smells like cinnamon

I totally get it

getting fresh honey and be able to put it on toast

It’s super healthy for you, it’s good for your immune system and if you want natural sugar and I think there are people who say a teaspoon of sugar a day is good for you.

especially for baking too

easier for digestion




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