While serving in Senegal, West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and beekeeper Megan Wannarka was already aware of how important certain plants were to bees. She stumbled upon a conference proceeding from Dr. Eva Crane, a well-known honey bee researcher, that contained a shortlist of honey bee plants in West Africa. She started researching further growing the shortlist to 170 plants and trees. Then with the help of the other 60 agriculture volunteers, she was able to add additional local names to the list.
Currently, her research continues through West Africa, specifically in Senegal, The Gambia, Liberia, Kenya, and Hawai’i. Past work includes Grenada, Eastern Caribbean as well and the plant list has grown to over 4,000 plants that honeybees utilize for pollen, propolis, nectar, and honeydew.
The hope is to capture locally known honey bee plants, taxonomy and propagation techniques to create simple identification manuals to further understand, maintain and create habitat for honey bees and pollinators. We are working on finding the gaps and creating bridges to help everyone be able to do what they can for pollinators at their level, doesn’t need to be being a beekeeper or planting a garden but could be doing citizen science work or understanding about the plant-pollinator interactions. Being involved, however, they can.
Megan has a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Minnesota and has worked with beekeepers in 7 countries.