January Travel

Bees awaiting the bloom in Chowchilla, CA. Photo Credit: Karen Rennich.

Bees awaiting the bloom in Chowchilla, CA. Photo Credit: Karen Rennich.

The past couple of weeks have been filled with exciting travel and great experiences. The month of January began with our annual BIP meeting where the team gathered in Hershey, PA to discuss the year’s accomplishments and the many tasks that lie ahead. Having all our far-away team members in the same room, speaking face-to-face was a great way to make sure we are all on the same page with the different aspects and tasks we are performing. I think it left us all wishing we had opportunities to meet like that more often. We have accomplished so much in the past two years and we are all very excited for what is ahead, though we certainly have our work cut out for us.

From Hershey, I went with Katie Lee and Liz Frost to The American Honey Producers conference in San Diego. Besides the fact that San Diego was absolutely beautiful, I really enjoyed finally meeting the beekeepers I had either heard about, or interacted with on the phone or through email for many months. I was able to meet a small handful of the California queen producers who work with the CA Tech team and also bond with Katie and Liz, who I had not had a chance to spend time with prior to the meeting. We mostly worked in the BIP booth, accosting wayward beekeepers to take our surveys, explaining our project and sharing new goals and initiatives for the coming year.

Karen NHBS Sampling

Karen Rennich getting ready to sample for the National Honey Bee Survey. Photo Credit: Karen Rennich.

After spending a few days in San Diego, Karen Rennich and I drove to the Central Valley to do some National Honey Bee Survey sampling. It was colder than we expected it to be, which we all know, does not make for happy bees. Sampling however, went smoothly. It was wonderful to be out in the field for a spell even if it was chilly because there are surely no bees flying with the cold spell we are currently having on the east coast right now. We saw some healthy, flourishing bees, but also saw some bees in very poor conditions. Hopefully, we will be able to give answers as to what could be going on with both the good and the bad bees we sampled.

Overall, the three trips were successful. From discussing our projects goals and seeing long lost team members from all over the country, to putting a face to a name (or in this case a voice I had heard on the phone), and getting to have some fun with the bees in the field, I was exhausted. But I certainly felt that I had accomplished much at the end of my travel.

Trip Highlights: Eating all the chocolate I ever wanted in Hershey; the Starbucks in the hotel in San Diego (I believe this saved me on a daily basis); off-roading in our Hyundai Sonata in the Central Valley (if anyone wonders, these cars do surprisingly well in all sorts of terrain); being chased by 4 ferocious, but tiny dogs ,down a dirt road; the man who snored louder than I knew humanly possible the whole flight home (somehow this never got old, it just got more funny, probably from my exhaustion); and after three weeks of living out of a suitcase as big as I am, getting to pack up my things, and with the bees at my back and the sun setting ahead of me, I was able to head back home.

The view from the running path outside the hotel in San Diego.

The view from the running path outside the hotel in San Diego.

 

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About Jennie Stitzinger

In the summer of 2010 I walked in to the Penn State Agricultural Sciences building to inquire about a job a friend had mentioned to me. I was a poor college student, I needed to pay my summer rent, I was offered the job and I took it—I had no idea what I was in for. Fast forward a little over a year and I was kneeling on rocks and mud, in the cold, northern California rain, surrounded by dairy cows and hundreds of hives while Africanized bees were pinging off my bee suit. With a degree in Community Development from Penn State University, I never thought in a million years I would be working with honey bees upon graduation, but I guess life sure has its surprises. Now a member of the University of Maryland Diagnostic team, I work on many different aspects of BIP and the National Honey Bee Survey. Whether it is field work, traveling, report writing, crunch time projects, or larger missions, I am most likely working on it. What is my favorite part of the job? Working on an awesome project that has impact and is helping beekeepers around the country, learning more about honey bees than I ever thought I wanted to know, and giving me experiences I never thought possible.

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