George E. Bohart, ESA Fellow (1951)

Dr. George Edward “Ned” Bohart (deceased 13 July 1998), director of the USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Lab and professor at Utah State University, Logan (USU), was elected as ESA Fellow in 1951. He was an internationally recognized expert in Apoidea taxonomy, especially Megachilidae and the halictid subfamily Rhophitinae. His career focused on applied research in pollination biology and alfalfa seed production.

Dr. Bohart was born 21 September 1916, in Palo Alto, CA. He spent his childhood in California (Palo Alto and Berkeley) and Washington, D.C. He enjoyed playing football, exploring the natural world, and collecting insects with his older brother, and future ESA Fellow, Richard. He received both B.S. and M.S. degrees from University of California, Berkeley (UCB). While serving in WWII as a navy medical entomologist assigned to malaria control, he studied dipteran life cycles on decaying human corpses, gathering the data for his graduate work. After the war, he received a Ph.D. from UCB in 1947 with his dissertation titled, Filth Inhabiting Flies of Guam. After receiving his Ph.D., he took a job with the USDA at USU where he taught as an adjunct professor of biology and worked as the pollination expert for the USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Lab, where he spent the rest of his career.

Bohart’s work with leaf cutter and alkali bees made him a leader in applied pollination biology, through which he developed an alfalfa pollination management protocol that is still used today. In 1947, he founded the U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection. The collection has grown to house over one million specimens with worldwide representation of bees and wasps. The Bee Biology and Systematics Lab continues Bohart’s work on pollination research with particular focus on the development of non-Apis bees as crop pollinators.

Bohart was a prolific writer throughout his career, authoring over 140 papers and continuing to publish 15 years after his retirement in 1973. He was awarded the J. Everett Bussart Memorial Award by the ESA in 1969. He was known for his good sense of humor and his love for collecting. Throughout his career he inspired many entomologists to focus on the study of bees. His legacy is easy to identify by the many species bearing a boharti epithet in his honor and through the George E. (Ned) Bohart Endowment for the USU Insect Collection, which funds collection trips for USU graduate students and contribute to bolster USU’s collection with new specimens from areas such as rapidly disappearing tropical rainforests of South America.

(updated August, 2011)