- 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
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
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)