Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

From the archives: Insect expert Marla Spivak on how to save the bees

Marla Spivak and her bees
University of Minnesota researcher Marla Spivak is checking a bee hive at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. She's raising a special strain called the Minnesota Hygenic Bee.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

Insects — or the lack thereof — are the focus of this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas. On Friday, host Kerri Miller will talk with environmental journalist Oliver Milman about how the silent collapse in global insect populations is disrupting many of our most important ecosystems.

Here in Minnesota, bees are the insects whose absence is most keenly felt. Back in 2013, University of Minnesota entomologist Marla Spivak talked with Miller about what she was seeing. But she also gave advice about how to help the bees: Plant flowers.

“We really have a flowerless landscape out there, and bees need flowers for good nutrition,” Spivak said. “If bees have good nutrition, and a lot of pollen and protein coming in and nectar coming in, they're better able to fight off these diseases. And it helps them detoxify some of the pesticides. We really need bee-friendly flowers out there, everywhere.”


  • Marla Spivak is an entomologist and Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota specializing in apiculture and social insects. She is the author of “Attracting Native Pollinators” published in 2011.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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