About Heather Eversole

As a Faculty Research Assistant, I am a part of the Bee Diagnostic team located at the University of Maryland, College Park. I process samples for the Bee Informed Partnership and APHIS National Honey Bee Survey, primarily seeking out the parasitic mite, Varroa. I wear many hats including generating reports, managing lab functions as well as assisting undergraduates with honey bee related projects. Prior to my honey bee research interests I took part in submerged aquatic vegetation research projects located on the Chesapeake Bay as well as field work involving mangroves in Belize and Florida. You might say I was “stung” by honey bees and now I am hooked. I have my bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Maryland and always eager to expand my entomology knowledge.

Killer Hornets

Retrieved from: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/redmite8.htm

Japanese Giant Hornet and European Honey Bee http://waynesword.palomar.edu/redmite8.htm

The world’s largest hornet is the Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia) and subspecies, Japanese Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica).  The body size typically hovers around 2.2 inches and the stinger alone is a quarter of an inch.  They are extremely fast as they can fly up to 25mph.  The tissue damaging venom has killed 42 people in China last year alone.  It has been said the painful sting “feels like a hot nail gun”.  Fortunately, the hornets are native to Asia.

This giant killer creates a European Honey Bee (Apis mellifora) massacre straight out of a horror movie.  Especially since the hornets are 20 times heavier and five times the size of a Honey bee, with large piercing mandibles.  A hornet scout locates a hive and marks the location with a pheromone so its friends can come and attack.  The bees are decapitated in a matter of seconds as just one hornet has the ability to kill up to 40 bees a minute.  It is a grim scene as 30 hornets can kill 30,000 bees causing a hive to be decimated in a few hours.  The hornets seek out the high protein value larvae, which they chew into a paste to feed to their young.

Queen Hornets Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/antbbx/6242572228/

Queen Hornets https://www.flickr.com/photos/antbbx/6242572228/

Hornet and European Honeybee  Retrieved from:http://gabrielgalaz.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/japanese-giant-hornets/

Hornet and European Honeybee http://gabrielgalaz.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/japanese-giant-hornets/

The Asian Honey bee (Apis cerana) has a tactic to thwart an invasion.  Since the hornets are heavily armored the bee stings do not penetrate their exoskeletons, thus other methods are used for protection.  They form a “bee ball” surrounding the intruder the moment they detect the alerting pheromone.  The 500 or so bees begin to vibrate thus raising the carbon dioxide and temperature above the maximum the hornet can survive. It can take between 20 minutes to an hour in some cases to kill the hornet according to Atsushi Ugajin of the University of Tokyo (http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/03/3470076.htm).

Bee Ball http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/03/3470076.htm

Bee Ball http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/04/03/3470076.htm

National Geographic depicts both the encounters between hornets and European Honey bees as well as Asian Honey bees in the following video.  Watch the horror followed by tactics of them: National Geographic Honey bee and hornet video

Honey is more than just a sweet treat

Honey has many uses besides being a delicious food consumed by our favorite flying friends and us. I found some wonderful home remedies I would like to share and try.

Honey can help heal open wounds and treat burns.  According to an article in Scientific World Journal (2011), honey‘s antibacterial properties can kill off bacteria in a wound (p. 766). Bactria cannot survive in honey due to the potassium it contains. This results in a great antibacterial treatment and a perfect topical application to cuts and scrapes. Slather on natural honey the next time you have a cut instead of reaching for a tube of ointment.

Honey also works great for treating minor burns. First rinse the burn with water, and then apply a large amount of honey to the site followed by wrapping the wound in plastic wrap.  Now let it sit for 2 days. After the time has passed, remove the plastic wrap, again apply more honey, and rewrap the wound, again letting it set for 2 days.  Repeat the process for approximately 10 days or as needed until it has healed. You should have very little scaring. You can see pictures here.

Honey helps with sleeplessness.  A helpful recipe from earthclinic.com says to “take 1 Tablespoon of honey at dinner. If that doesn’t work, try mixing 3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to 1 cup of honey in a jar. Take 2 teaspoons before bed. If you don’t fall asleep within the hour, take 2 teaspoons more.” Maybe this is where the term” sweet dreams” comes from.

Another nice remedy from earthclinic.com says fructose helps remove alcohol from the body and suggest eating some honey on bread.  Agreeing with earthclinic.com, another site recommends boiling some water and adding some honey to it. After it has cooled, have a sip.  If you would like to recover from a hangover then you may want to try this.


Nothing is complete without skin and hair treatments. There are many recipes but I decided to share a few from earthclinic.com:


Honey Facial Moisturizer: 2 Tablespoons of honey 2 Teaspoons of Milk. Apply to face and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Summertime Honey Mask: When the humidity and/or filthy city air is producing breakouts and oily or gritty skin, a honey mask is a great solution! The recipe is as easy as they get! Simply spread a thin layer of honey over your face for about 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Honey Scrub for the Body: mix 1/2 cup of raw honey with 1/2 cup sugar or salt. Step into the shower (sans water, of course) and scrub mixture into the skin. Then shower off.

Honey Scrub for the Face: 1 Tablespoon of honey mixed with 2 Tablespoons of finely ground almonds and half a teaspoon of lemon juice. Rub gently into the skin and rinse with warm water.

Skin Infections: Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts to the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.


Hair Conditioner: Mix 2 Tablespoons of honey with 1/2 of a fresh avocado and 1 Teaspoon of coconut oil. Massage into hair and leave on for half an hour. Works beautifully for dry and damaged hair.

Hair Loss: To the scalp, apply a paste of hot olive oil, one Tablespoon of honey and one Teaspoon of cinnamon (powder). Keep on for approx. 15 min. and then wash the hair.

There are many more home remedies out there so please share your home remedies, and try one listed. Let us know how it turns out!



Al-Ghamdi AA, Al-Waii N and Salom K. (2011, April 5). “Honey for wound healing, ulcers, and burns; data supporting its use in clinical practice.” Scientific World Journal.  11, 766-87.

Large Pests of Honey Bees

There are many pests of honeybees. I will discuss a few of the larger animals. The Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research & Extensions Consortium has a great publication on the topic http://agdev.anr.udel.edu/maarec/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Pests_of_Honey_Bees_PM.pdf. Like Winnie the Pooh, bears love to chow down on brood and honey. Their quest for honey results in a hive being destroyed in the process. If you have encountered this problem in the past, then you can try building an electric fence or place a stout wire cage around clusters of colonies placed on a platform. Alternatively you may have to relocate your colonies as the bear may come back looking for more food.

Several other warm-blooded mammals such as skunks, opossum and raccoons like a quick snack of live bees. They will munch of the bees as they fly out of a colony. In addition, in the fall mice and moles can be a nuisance by gnaw frames and chewing on comb. This can be easily fixed by raising the hive up on a hive stand or placing a large mesh wire before the hive entrance reducing annoying small mammals and rodents.

Even stored equipment can provide a nice home for rats and squirrels. This can result in damaged and soiled frames. The soiled frames deter honeybees. Thus, when storing equipment, seal or close the hive bodies and super stacks.

The preceding pests are not too common but can and do occur. If you have had an experience with one or several of the pests please share your solution. In addition, if there is a large pest not mentioned please feel free to post your encounter.

Spelling Bee


Scripps National Spelling Bee logo

Bees are intertwined not only directly and indirectly with the food we eat, but also in our vocabulary. Chances are you have either competed in a spelling bee, know someone who has or have seen it in the media. Spelling bees have been around for quite some time, yet few know how our favorite insect, “bee(s)”, became associated with these spelling contests. It is very interesting.


Retrieved from: “http://romancingthebee.com/2012/06/19″. Web. 7-11-2013

There is some conversation amongst etymologists (not to be confused with entomologists), on the web site Welcome to English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, about the origination. Etymologists study the history, origin and meaning of words. The British dialect for “bee” is “bean” in Middle English, which means “help given by neighbors”.  The Scripps National Spelling Bee provided a wealth of information on the topic.  The common consensus points to “bee” meaning “social gathering”. Many other activities or “gatherings” had the term “bee” following such as logging bee (1836), and apple bee (1827) and of course the one we all think of, quilting bee.

So the next time you are having a gathering, why not call it a “bee”?!


Works Cited:

- Welcome to English Language & Usage Stack Exchange webpage  http://english.stackexchange.com

-Scripps National Spelling Bee webpage http://www.spellingbee.com/


“Bee” Movies

Francis, Freddie, dir. The Deadly Bees. Paramount Pictures, 1966. Film. 14 May 2013.

Francis, Freddie, dir. The Deadly Bees. Paramount Pictures, 1966. Film. 14 May 2013.

Bees truly are everywhere. Even in cinema you can find them. With the anticipation of the 2013 summer movies, I thought I would

Buitenhuis, Penelope, dir. Killer Bees!. Shavick Entertainment, 2002. Film. 14 May 2013.

Buitenhuis, Penelope, dir. Killer Bees!. Shavick Entertainment, 2002. Film. 14 May 2013.

investigate movies with bees as a main character.  I came across a few classics: The Deadly Bees (1966), Killer Bees (1974) and The Bees (1978). The movie posters are amazing.Then there are more modern movies such as Killer Bees! (2002). An updated version of bees attacking people. Run for your lives! If you like a little animation, the Bee Movie (2007) may “bee” it. The movie may radically misrepresent an actual hive; it does feature bees and was meant to be fun! You will not find killer swarms or psychic control here.

The next time you want to rent a movie or two, try picking up an oldie and pop up some popcorn and have a giggle. Enjoy!

Seinfeld, Jerry, perf. Bee Movie. DreamWorks Animation, 2007. Film. 14 May 2013.

Seinfeld, Jerry, perf. Bee Movie. DreamWorks Animation, 2007. Film. 14 May 2013.

The Bees

Zacharias, Alfredo, dir. The Bees. New World Pictures, 1978. Film. 14 May 2013.





Community health major learns about bees…

profie pic

Norriss Vassell II is a community health major  studying at the University of Maryland. His curiosity of bees led him to our lab this semester. Here is his blog…Enjoy!

I found out I was allergic to bees through being stung and have disliked them a great deal ever since. I undertook this internship to learn more about bees so that I would not hate them as much. I am ecstatic that I accepted the position for this internship because I now have a great respect for bees and what they do for our environment. This semester I worked with Dennis vanEngelsdorp and our amazing team to raise awareness for our native pollinators. These pollinators include birds, beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, and bees. The task that my partner, Dana, and I were assigned included designing brochures that will educate the public on various issues concerning native pollinators.  These brochures illustrate how to build a nesting box and why pollinators are important.  We also created a game that children could play at our booth at Maryland Day. I learned quite a bit from this experience, from learning about the various pollinators to learning about the different ways to attract certain pollinators to one’s yard.

Honey Bees and Food

Photo credit: Rachel Bozarth Eva Bein checking a sample for  spores.

Photo credit: Rachel Bozarth
Eva Bein checking a sample for spores.

Eva Bein is an undergraduate majoring in Environmental Science and Policy student at the University of Maryland.  She is expanding her knowledge of honey bees and Nosema through her research project in our lab. Here is her blog…enjoy!

I came to this internship through an interest in our food supply. I wanted to understand food production practices from where they started on the farm.  As a Green Dining Intern at University of Maryland, I thought a lot about how to produce sustainable food and I found that many of the methods we use today to produce huge quantities of produce make it more difficult for the bees to do their job. Since the bees are responsible for pollinating 70% of our 100 major crop species, according to the U.N., our practices seem to be biting the hand that feeds (Humans Must Change…).  It is unclear what is causing so many bees to die in the process of pollinating our crops, but scientists have their suspicions and there are numerous possibilities. One possible cause may be a class of pesticides which are used on many crops and which may be toxic to bees. The jury is still out on neonicotinoids, but a large amount of research is being conducted. A second method used in large farming operations is the use of only a single crop over miles of farmland. This adoption of mono-culture in farming is another potential link to unhealthy bees because the lack of diversity in a bee’s diet has been linked to a weaker immune system. Advocates for native bees and honey bees are winning over some of these battles by getting farmers to plant hedgerows of natural forage for all these insects. Not everyone is thinking about bee health when they advocate for “sustainable food,” but keeping the bees alive is the keystone of a sustainable food supply.

Not just Honey Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18442426/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/declining-honeybees-threat-food-supply/#.UKP9aYc70Vc

Not just Honey
Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18442426/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/declining-honeybees-threat-food-supply/#.UKP9aYc70Vc


“Humans Must Change Behavior to save Bees, Vital for Food Production – UN Report.” UN News Center. United Nations, 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.

Spring Blooms

Julius Goldberg helping out in the lab.  Photo credit: Rachel Bozarth

Julius Goldberg helping out in the lab.
Photo credit: Rachel Bozarth

Julius Goldberg is a pre-med undergraduate student who has been with us for two semester researching Nosema. Here is a blog from him. Enjoy!

As spring rolls around, the atmosphere here in College Park begins to change. The birds start chirping, the squirrels resume munching, the hummingbirds start to hum, the bees buzz, and love is in the air. Spring is often portrayed as a joyous season, and for good reason. One thing in particular that happens in the beginning of spring is the blossoming of the Cherry Blossoms, in both College Park, and Washington D.C. People come from all over the world to witness the beautiful cherry blossom trees in D.C. as they blossom for about a week or two. Although the flowers on the cherry blossoms are beautiful, they bring pollen and allergies for many.  The pollen can be quite annoying for some people, but the bees thrive on it. While you may not have seen many bees, if any, during the winter, the bees are still responsible for the pollination of many plants and flowers. Without bees, pollination of flowers would not occur, and the flowers would not bloom. As I walk around campus I hear people say “Look at those awesome Cherry Blossoms!” I always remind them that without bees we would not have many fruits and vegetables from plants, and that bees are in decline. When I went to D.C. recently for the cherry blossoms with my friends I also reminded them of the necessity of bees, and that we need to be aware of the bees.

On another note, research in the lab this semester has been going well. With 3 new undergraduate students working on the same project as me, we were able to complete 700 Nosema samples from this semester alone, and finish the remaining leftover samples from last semester.  In the beginning, it took a little while for the new students to learn the technique of counting the Nosema spores under the microscope on the hemocytometer, but once they got the technique down the train really started rolling. With all of this new data, I hope to be able to compare it to last semester’s results and see what conclusions can now be drawn.

Finally, I have been hired to work here in this lab over the summer as a full time undergraduate researcher, and I am very excited for this opportunity and look forward to the exciting research to come, as well as getting to know my fellow lab mates a little bit better.

A display of spring Photo credit: Julius Goldberg

A display of spring
Photo credit: Julius Goldberg


Bee Informed gets social

We have revamped our Twitter account and generated a Bee Informed Partnership Facebook page. Meghan McConnell has been working tirelessly on our social marketing.  We are on the move with social media. What better way to generate awareness about our awesome organization?!

Check out some of the postings at: https://www.facebook.com/BeeInformedPartnership#!/BeeInformedPartnership


“Bee”come Informed! Take a look, like our page and post a comment!

Buzz on over to our Twitter account at:  https://twitter.com/beeinformedinfo

For instant tweets and live action shots follow us today!


Andrew Garavito hard at work Photo credit: Rachel Bozarth

Andrew Garavito hard at work
Photo credit: Rachel Bozarth


Ryan Wallace and Nosema

Ryan Wallace is an undergraduate working on a project in our lab. I would like to share his thoughts…

Prior to working with the vanEngelsdorp lab, I had two years of research experience working with the Raupp lab and Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs. However, I quickly learned that my research experience with the vanEngelsdorp lab would be much different from my prior experiences.

First, the subject I was working with was new to me. I did not know that much about bees, except that they make honey and they are extremely important pollinators. I quickly started to learn more and more about bees every time I came into lab. For example, I never knew that the honey bees we were studying are not native to the US. I also learned a lot about Nosema spores and their effects on bees. I learned that Nosema is a huge concern due to their effects on honey production and colony population size.

This information gave me a better understanding of the motivation behind the research project I worked on. We were interested in seeing which predictor could be used to forecast whether a colony survives or dies. The predictors we evaluated included; average spore count, prevalence, intensity, as well as if bees were in a diverse environment and if they were fed protein supplements or not. We were mainly concerned in processing samples that would give us data for the first three predictors mentioned. To do this, Chris and Julius, who were the other undergraduates working on the project, and I crushed up bees and counted how many spores we saw under the microscope. Counting spores was extremely difficult at first, especially since I had not used a microscope in a while. However, after you get a good idea of what exactly a spore looks like, the process becomes much easier and quicker.

After obtaining our data, Nathalie, the PhD student working in the lab, helped us statistically analyze what the numbers actually meant. In a quick summary, we found that prevalence, which is how many bees out of ten are infected, seemed to be the most accurate of the first three predictors in determining whether a hive will die. This finding was very interesting to the researchers who we presented our project to. They were interested because prevalence could save huge amounts of time.  Instead of counting the number of spores, prevalence would just allow us to simply say yes or no to the presence of spores. This was one of the most rewarding parts of working in the lab because our hard work over the semester had some significance in the bigger picture of Bee research.

Image 1. Nosema under the microscope

Image 1. Nosema under the microscope

Working at the vanEngelsdorp lab has helped me gain and refine practical skills that will be extremely useful as I continue my academic career. In addition, I had a great time getting to know everyone in the lab and am definitely grateful for such a great experience.