Konstantinos Tsiolis

Nesting resources: the missing element of sustainable crop pollination

Konstantinos Tsiolis

Growing up in small family farm located in a small village in rural Cyprus, I experience first-hand the consequences of poor pest control and poor management of important pollinator species. As a result, I have built a great interest in agricultural entomology and I decided to join the Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) in England to acquire skills and knowledge that could provide effective solutions in fruit farming.

During my studies at CCCU I have gained extensive research experience through my course and via an internship. I obtained a three month paid internship which consisted of a number of field experiments. The project involved the investigation of the role of Forficula auricularia L. on Cacopsylla pyricola F. while under the biocontrol Anthocoris nemoralis F. It was part of a collaborative biocontrol research project between CCCU (Dr. Joseph Burman) and NIAB East Malling Research (Dr. Michelle Fountain) and partially funded by Agrii. I wanted to get involved even deeper in research, get more experience, acquire various new knowledge and skills and I decided to enrol for a Master by Research in Ecology degree. One of my passions throughout my studies was wild bees and the need to increase awareness of their importance and decline, especially in the agricultural sector. I was fortunate to combine my passion with my Master’s research project which has studied the preferred nesting habitat of various solitary ground-nesting bee species.

Solitary ground-nesting bees play a significant role in the pollination of agricultural crops, yet very little is known about this vast group, especially compared to their better known cousins honeybees and bumblebees. A number of studies have indicated that flower-rich strips in orchards can boost food for pollinators. However, understanding the nesting needs of specific pollinators is a key element for sustainable supply of pollinators. My PhD project is based at University of Reading in collaboration with NIAB East Malling Research and Worldwide Fruit Ltd., focused on designing and testing novel interventions to provide bee nesting resources in UK fruit orchards. I am grateful to Waitrose CTP scheme for their support and for the opportunity to work collaboratively with a number of organisations acquiring valuable experience and skills which will play a significant role in my future career.