June 16, 2021

Willkie Green recently welcomed Dr. Marla Spivak, a distinguished professor and entomologist at the University of Minnesota. She gave an engaging and informative talk about the importance of bees, including their impact on our food sources and how we can help prevent the bee populations from their continuing decline.

Recognizing the important role bees and other pollinators contribute to our planet and society, and in celebration of the two beehives installed at the New York office, this Willkie Green speaker event endeavored to cover an important and relevant environmental topic, and how it impacts both our planet and our daily lives.

What is Happening to Bee Populations?

Bee populations and other pollinators such as butterflies, moths, and flies, are incredibly important to our global biodiversity. Most of the food we rely on for nutrition and health is able to grow and thrive due to their work. Bee populations, however, have been in decline and are deemed unhealthy due to the interconnected factors of pathogens, parasites, pesticides, and poor nutrition. However, they are not verging on extinction due to beekeeper care.

What Can We Do to Help Bees and Reduce Carbon?

The answer to helping bees is not to take up beekeeping, but instead, the most effective way to help is to provide nutritious food for all pollinators, planting flowers that help them detoxify pesticides and restore their immune function. You can simultaneously help bees and decrease your carbon by choosing a variety of native and naturalized plants that provide abundant nectar and pollen that bloom throughout the year, and include large strands of the same kind of plant. While aesthetically pleasing, flowers that were bred to be beautiful, such as Tulips, Marigolds, Daisies, etc. are not conducive to supporting bees, as they provide little pollen and nectar. Plant perennials, as they not only protect bees, but they also prevent erosion, filter pollution, improve water quality and sequester carbon.

As an entomologist, Dr. Spivak is an expert in the study of insects, with special focus on bees. She began working with bees in 1975 when she worked as a beekeeper in New Mexico. Since then, she has obtained her PhD on the identification and ecology of Africanized and European honey bees in Costa Rica, then went on to complete post-doctoral research at the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona before becoming a professor at the University of Minnesota in 1993. Dr. Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and a Distinguished McKnight Professor.

For more information on Dr. Spivak and bees, visit the University of Minnesota BeeLab.

Read Willkie Green to learn more about Willkie’s myriad sustainability efforts, including the our urban bee hives!