The use of modified insect traps to attract essential native pollinators into greenhouses and increase pollination success

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2018: $49,177.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation
Region: Western
State: Alaska
Principal Investigator:
Aleya Brinkman
Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District

Information Products


  • Vegetables: cucurbits, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: beekeeping, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, youth education

    Proposal abstract:

    Crop pollination is one of the most important aspects of agriculture, both economically
    and ecologically. Worryingly, many pollinators are known to be decreasing worldwide.
    Anecdotally, many Alaskan farmers have observed similar trends and have had to rely on either
    the importation of commercially-reared pollinators or hand-pollination for successful crop
    production. This is especially true for greenhouses and high tunnels, as they act as an additional
    barrier to insect pollination.
    With a short growing season, indoor crops are a necessity for Alaskan producers, which
    results in the importation of honey bees and/or bumble bees to supplement pollination. This is of
    great concern because of the possible presence of novel pathogens or parasites which may be
    transmitted to local native bumble bees. In addition, the cost of bee packages has soared due to
    the destructive presence of the Varroa mite and colony collapse disorder, and the great shipping
    distance to Alaska. Hand pollination is an alternative to purchasing pollinators, but this is a timeconsuming
    and tedious process for farmers.
    Blue vane traps have recently become a common tool for bumble bee and honey bee
    monitoring studies. However, the success of the traps at attracting thousands of bumble bees
    provokes intriguing questions. Can blue vane traps be used to direct native bumble bees into
    indoor growing areas? Will the traps attract sufficient numbers of pollinators to be an efficient
    and cost-effective alternative to importing bees to Alaska?
    We propose a 3-year study to assess the feasibility of attracting native pollinators via
    modified blue vane traps to increase pollination success within high tunnels. We intend to work
    with farmers to implement on-farm research, and will provide educational and outreach materials
    at events throughout the state of Alaska related to the importance of native pollinators and
    pollination success.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Assess a simple method of attracting native pollinators to high tunnels with modified
    blue vane traps to enhance pollination success.
    a. We will evaluate whether or not native pollinators will be attracted into high
    tunnels by comparing an exclusion area, and one in which pollinators have
    access only via modified blue vane traps. We will monitor pollination success
    through pollinator visit data collection and the successful production of fruit
    on zucchini. (2018-2020)
    2. Assess whether blue vane traps can serve as the only method of pollination for indoor
    a. In year two we will expand the study to evaluate pollination success
    differences of a hand pollination treatment, a modified blue vane treatment,
    and a natural or no attractant/hand pollination treatment. This will occur on
    UAF Experimental Farm with the use of 3 small greenhouses, and a 3
    replicates within each greenhouse. (2019-2020)
    3. To engage local partners and farmers in discussions related to the importance of
    pollinator habitat to agriculture and factors affecting pollinator health.
    a. Outreach events will be held at events throughout Alaska, such as a University
    open field day, and attending and presenting information at various
    conferences. We will also work with Calypso Farm and Ecology Center to
    talk with students at their science camps. Furthermore, we will design
    educational material in collaboration with the Georgeson Botanical Garden,
    and establish a native pollinator demonstration garden at one community
    garden in the Fairbanks area. (2018-2020)

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.