DNA Methods to Map Important Bee Forage in Cleveland

Over the past year, graduate students Rodney Richardson and Katie Todd have co-authored, and were awarded, two student grants to conduct pollen research in Cleveland, OH. Rodney and Katie are supported by a North Central Region SARE graduate student grant ($11,930) and an OARDC SEEDS graduate student grant ($9,775) to investigate solitary bee’s pollen usage on urban farms. They are mid-way through their first year of pollen collection and will use pollen metabarcoding DNA analysis this fall to determine what their bee larvae were eating in Cleveland this summer. Check out the photos below to see some of their sites and bee X-rays!

Project Summary: Urban agriculture is highly reliant on the pollination services that wild bees provide. In order to support pollinator’s survival and reproduction, we need to supply both crop and non-crop pollen resources for these bees. However, we don’t have a clear picture of what solitary bees feed their young in urban farm environments. Therefore, we don’t know what flower plantings will best support local bees. In order to test what bees eat in urban farms of Cleveland, OH, we will collect bee larvae and pollen with “Bee Hotel” trap nests. We will then conduct a DNA analysis on the pollen within these nests in order to determine what floral resources are critical for solitary bee reproduction. With this insight into urban bee foraging behavior and reproductive success, our study will inform farmers about urban habitat management to support future generations of urban bees and urban farm sustainability.

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