Genius Award Winner Co-Authors New, Practical Book on Alternative Pollinators
College Park, MD – The MacArthur Foundation announced University of Minnesota Professor of Entomology Marla Spivak as a 2010 Genius Award recipient for her pioneering research into the genetics and behavior of honey bees, as well as her passion for beekeeper education. The public can now read about Spivak’s honey bee and alternative pollinator research in her new book Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists.
Managing Alternative Pollinators, published by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step, full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees and other bee species that provide pollination alternatives to the rapidly declining honey bee.
Written by Spivak, Eric Mader of the Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Program, and Elaine Evans, author of Befriending Bumble Bees, the book includes expert information on the business and biology of pollination and how-to guidance on raising the alternative bee species—vital information considering that during the past 50 years, America has witnessed an almost 50 percent decline in the number of managed honey bee colonies. With two-thirds of the world’s crops requiring pollination, beekeepers and growers are seeking pollination alternatives and ways to bring honey bees back from the brink.
Spivak’s SARE-funded research, spanning more than a decade, has focused largely on identifying and breeding for the traits that allow honey bees to defend themselves against parasites such as the Varroa mite, a particularly destructive pest. In addition, she has worked to develop effective sampling strategies that help beekeepers accurately assess parasite infestation in their colonies, which in turn can help them make better decisions about using costly treatments.
Spivak is the second SARE-supported innovator to win a $500,000 MacArthur grant in recent years. Will Allen, a 2008 winner, is a pioneer in urban agricultural practices and in building local food systems that benefit poor inner-city residents.
Visit the Learning Center to download SARE’s Managing Alternative Pollinators for free or to order print copies ($23.50 plus $5.95 s/h).