Creating buzz: Gratton lab supports state’s Pollinator Protection Plan efforts

19674084370_12bfb33845_kOn Wednesday of last week, a group of stakeholders gathered at Arlington Agricultural Research Station to discuss ways to support pollinators in Wisconsin, including honeybees and the state’s wild bees. It was the first of three meetings designed to help the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) gather information and input before drafting a Pollinator Protection Plan for the state.

CALS researchers are playing an important role in the process.

“We have been working with WDATCP for about one year on developing this,” notes entomology professor Claudio Gratton, who studies the impacts of landscapes on insects. Gratton’s postdoctoral researcher Christina Locke has been leading the effort to coordinate the meetings, along with the UW’s participation in them.

A group of 24 stakeholders were invited to participate in the meetings, including Locke and CALS/UW-Extension entomologist Russ Groves. Others participants include representatives from WDATCP; DNR; Xerces Society; Wisconsin Farm Bureau; Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association; Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians; CropLife America; and Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin.

The first meeting started with introductions, a pollinator overview by Locke and some discussion. During the afternoon session, stakeholders rotated among tables to brainstorm on three topics: pollinator habitat, managed bees and pesticides. These small-group discussions were moderated by Locke; Liz Meils, the WDATCP state apiarist; and Mike Murray, a DATCP pesticide specialist; respectively.

“The stakeholder meeting went really well,” reports Locke. “There were a couple prickly moments, but overall conversation flowed well, people were considerate, and a lot of topics came up.”

WDATCP hopes to distribute a draft of the state’s new Pollinator Protection Plan this fall. A federal pollinator plan was released earlier this year.