Longtime bee scientist Ron Bitner of Caldwell, Idaho, has been elected to the Pollinator Partnership board of directors.
The San Francisco-based organization, in a news release, cited his “years of experience and passion for pollinators” among reasons for his election.
Bitner has served on the Partnership’s Bee-Friendly Farming Committee for years and continues to do so.
“What I am wanting to do is make farmers more aware of this project, and make the public aware that farmers are proactive in doing things,” he said in an interview. As a board member, “my goal is to use my 35-plus years working in ag and working with bees to increase the understanding of the importance of all kinds of bees” including leaf cutter, alkali and blue orchard. “I think we will build upon this.”
Bitner’s work has included management and consulting related to non-Apis (non-honey) bees, and crops requiring their pollination. For the Australian national agency Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization, he worked to develop pollination and integrated pest management programs for alfalfa seed and hybrid canola seed growers in that country.
He earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Utah State University, where his dissertation focused on the alfalfa leafcutter bee. Research for his master’s thesis at Purdue University centered on Indiana’s tube-dwelling wasps and bees including the blue orchard bee. He has been involved in research projects around southwest Idaho.
Bitner and his wife, Mary, own and operate Bitner Vineyards. They grow 15 acres of wine grapes, first planted in 1981. They operate as a Low Input Viticulture and Enology-certified vineyard.