#BeyondBees

THE PROJECT

Beyond the bees is supported through the Department of Biological Sciences at Ohio University and undergraduate student researchers through the Program to Aid Career Exploration (PACE). Beyond the bees is a project that aims to understand fly pollinators and manage pollinator supportive landscapes.  Providing floral habitats that favor all pollinators will strongly influence pollination services provided in both natural and agricultural settings. Therefore, development of landscape management practices and conservation tools should support a wide variety of pollinators. Recent attention however, has focused largely on bees, butterflies, and vertebrate pollinators. With the exception of bee flies (Family Syrphidae), alternative fly pollinators within the Order Diptera may also be important pollinators based on abundance and strong attraction to flowers for foraging, carbohydrates (nectar) and protein (pollen). However, their contributions as pollinators and pollination ecology is poorly understood and often overlooked pollinators. 

THE FLY POLLINATORS

Its not all about the bees and butterflies, don’t forget the “socially unacceptable” pollinators… FLIES! Flies are a  common group of insects in the Order Diptera (meaning 2 wings), with over 120,000 known species worldwide.  You may think “pest” when you think of flies, and certainly there are many pest species, but flies have also provide important eco-system services like soil conditioning, recycling, and POLLINATION!  Flies are the second in importance to bees and, on certain plants, are incredibly effective at transferring pollen grains onto a flower stigmas.

Fly pollinators: left to right, top – thick headed fly (Conopidae), dagger fly (Empididae), flesh fly (Sarcophagidae); middle – flower fly or hover fly (Syrphidae), blow fly (Calliphoridae), blow fly (Calliphoridae); bottom – horse fly (Tabanidae), mosquito (Culicidae), bee-like fly (Tachinidae) [Photo: Sean McCann]

ARMITAGE FARM

Many of our experiments are conducted in a controlled lab at Ohio University but we often take our experiments into the field to investigate the equivalent in a real world situation.  Our field site is located at Armitage Farm in Athens, Ohio (if you are local, we are right on the bike path by the old train cars!).

Freshly plowed pollinator fields at Armitage Farm, Athens, Ohio

PROJECT TEAM

  • Dr. Bekka S. Brodie
  • Ayden B. Wilson, 2017 Undergraduate Research Student (PACE Recipient and Ohio University Graduate), currently at Scotts Miracle-Gro
  • Julie Hixson, Current 2018 Undergraduate Research Student

RESEARCH REPORTING & WORKSHOPS

Ayden B. Wilson*, V. Popescu, and B.S. Brodie. Are flies pollen their weight? Data mining social media for information on fly (Diptera) pollinators. Ohio University Student Expo, Athens, (OH 17 April 2018). (Poster)

Brodie, B.S. Harnessing sight and scent communication pathways for insect conservation and management. Plant Biology Colloquium, Ohio University, Athens, OH (2 March 18).

Brodie, B.S. Citizen Scientists (you!) predicting floral attractiveness for fly pollinators. 18th Annual Ohio PawPaw Festival, Albany, OH (16 September 2016).

PHOTO GALLERY

2018 Summer Research Interns eating blueberries at Armitage Farm after a long day of weeding.

Ayden Wilson won 2nd Place in sustainability in the Ohio University Student Expo (2017)