Ashley St Clair, Iowa State University, Department of Entomology
Ph.D. defense seminar.
Abstract. Wild bee populations are declining across the United States, with populations particularly at risk in the Upper Midwest where vast areas of land have been converted into highly cultivated row-crop agriculture. In addition to reduced wild bee populations, honey bee colony losses have increased with beekeepers in the Midwest frequently losing 60% or more of their colonies annually. These declines are problematic as wild bees are an essential part of maintaining natural ecosystems, and honey bees contribute to pollination of over 150 crops. The state of Iowa has been identified as a critical area for pollinator conservation and is an ideal location to study agriculture-related bee declines. This area represents a model landscape for other parts of the world, can be used to understand how bees respond to agricultural intensification, and may provide valuable insights into the future of pollinator health. My research focuses on the fate of both honey bees and wild bees in soybeans, and how landscape diversity in agricultural systems affects bee communities and health. By investigating how surrounding landscape diversity affects bees, I hope to try and find solutions to declining pollinator populations and bee health.