A Research-based Approach

The bulk of our current field work consists of conducting surveys of bees: if we know what bees exist in our region, and their interactions with surrounding plant communities, then we can draw conclusions about sustainable practices.

Staff Ashley Powell surveying wild bees at a City Light property.

Staff Ashley Powell surveying wild bees at a City Light property.

In a nutshell, this means getting out and counting bees. We've helped lead this work in the Puget Sound, with an emphasis on neglected spaces such as land surrounding runways at Sea-Tac airport and in the transmission corridors of Seattle City Light. How can these spaces deliver an ecological benefit?

Mother Nature reclaims an old golf course almost immediately. Note Scouler's willow stakes and Wild clustered roses planted on the green. Photo © Rod Hatfield.

Mother Nature reclaims an old golf course almost immediately. Note Scouler's willow stakes and Wild clustered roses planted on the green. Photo © Rod Hatfield.

At the airport, we are also maintaining colonies of honey bee hives. Besides being a great conversation starter, the honey bees reside in a relatively protected environment. We can control certain elements of bee-breeding, for instance, and are working to develop local, disease-resistant bees. These are being shared with local beekeepers.

The centerpiece of the airport project is also the restoration of 20+ acres of habitat with native and other pollinator-friendly plants. The Port of Seattle hired us to develop plant lists for the acreage, and to supply them with a pollinator seed mix. Then the Port undertook planting some 20,000 plants and starts: with this and other practices, nature is readily reclaiming the space.

Field Day with 50 farmers at Wobbly Cart Farm outside Olympia, WA.

Field Day with 50 farmers at Wobbly Cart Farm outside Olympia, WA.

Finally, we are sharing what we learn with scientific and professional communities, and with the general public. Through the NW Pollinator Initiative (which we co-founded with WSU), we're supporting field classes for farmers, and "citizen science" classes for everyone. Find out more here.