Irene McKechnie

Science centre promotes research

Employee at Vernon facility publishes paper on pollination

Staff members at the Okanagan Science Centre are going hands-on.

Irene McKechnie, the centre’s manager, published a research paper on blueberry pollination in the January issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment.

“Populations of both native and managed bees are in decline worldwide, which can have negative consequences for pollination and the production of much of our food,” said McKechnie, who, in the summer of 2011, launched a research project examining the impacts of forested areas on the bee community and fruit production in lowbush blueberry fields in New Brunswick.

Lowbush blueberry farming is an ecosystem in which crops are harvested from naturally occurring areas instead of intentional row plantings.

McKechnie discovered that forested areas had a greater variety of nesting habitats and a higher diversity of bee species, however areas away from the forests attracted a greater abundance of bees.

“In the scale of our study, bees would easily be able to nest in forested areas and still forage at plants in the non-forested areas,” she said.

“Our finding that forested areas had a more nesting habitat and a higher diversity of bees suggests that the maintenance of areas of natural habitat within the lowbush blueberry agricultural ecosystem helps support a healthy pollinator community.”



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