Steve Ellis: a speaker for the bees

This morning Team Echinacea was joined by special guest Steve Ellis, a commercial beekeeper based in Barrett, MN. Steve is also a national advocate for curbing the usage of neonicotinoid pesticides and has filed a lawsuit against the US EPA for sanctioning the widespread use of these chemicals in agriculture. While sipping on wild forage sumac-ade and devouring some delectable scones, the team was captivated by Steve’s description of the US pesticide regulatory system and the consequences of neonicotinoid usage. Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of neuro-active insecticides used in agriculture throughout the US. Mounting evidence suggests these long-lived chemicals are at least partly responsible for the precipitous decline of commercial honeybee populations over the past 20 years. However, less is known about how neonicotinoids affect native pollinators, the birds and mammals that feed on pesticide-ridden insects, and the aquatic systems where neonicotinoids accumulate.


In other news, we finished measuring P1 before returning to the Hjelm House to celebrate Keaton’s birthday with cake and “exercises in estimation.”

background reading on bees and neonicotinoids

Steve Ellis recommended some readings for us. Here they are:

Also, here are two mainstream media pieces on the topic of honeybees and pesticides:

Andrea and Maureen: a Bee-utiful Relationship

The field season is heating up for Team Echinacea both literally and metaphorically. Much of the metaphorical heat comes from the awesome work everyone has been putting into group and independent projects. However, a small portion of this heat also comes from a budding relationship between Andrea and I that was sparked at experimental plot 2 a week ago. On my day off, I missed her so much I simply had to draw a picture of her.


Why is Andrea so special to me? One important reason is that she is an Andrena bee and Andrena seem to be the most efficient pollinators of Echinacea angustifolia based on our preliminary findings. Another reason is that she is absolutely adorable and very photogenic.


Aside from missing Andrea, I also made dinner for the team. I decided on sweet potato black bean tacos with homemade tortillas. Mmmm…..