Researching Honey Bees by Julius Goldberg

Image 1. Julius Goldberg researching Nosema in the lab

I would like to share a blog from an undergraduate by the name of Julius Goldberg…enjoy!

As an undergraduate student majoring in biology, I am often asked if I am doing any scientific research. My answer is, “Yes, I study honey bees”. This answer seems to shock nearly everyone. Most people respond “Really? Bees?” It seems to be the expected norm to conduct scientific research these days in college if one is majoring in science, but apparently researching honey bees is quite unique. I am always pleased to tell these inquisitors that I do indeed study honey bees, as they are one of the main agricultural pollinators of the world, and without them, the world would lose a significant amount of crops and the worldwide ecosystem would probably suffer unpredictable changes. This answer used to flabbergast most people, but nowadays people seem to recognize that there is a problem with the honey bees and that their populations have been steadily declining. Some people are even familiar with the term Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). After explaining why honey bees are important, the question that naturally comes next is “What exactly do you do in lab, Julius?” I respond by telling people that I work in a university honey bee laboratory that conducts research, among other things, on Varroa mites and Nosema, a gut parasite. I work in a group consisting of three undergrads: Ryan, Chris, and myself. We work together on a small project analyzing individual honey bees from different apiaries, looking to see how the parasite Nosema apisaffects the bee’s survival rate. I do mostly histology work, but also help with other things day-to-day functions in the lab, like setting up shelves or sub sampling  This answer impresses everyone, and it seems to me that it gets the gears turning in their head about the honey bees.

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It is surprisingly common that the average person doesn’t really realize that the honey bee population of the world is drastically declining. There are many people in the world who are studying honey bees, trying to protect them and help them make a comeback. Yet there are also so many people who are unaware of the problem. When I talk to people and tell them about my research, I hope that they then later go tell someone else that they learned that the honey bee population is in trouble. In this way, the knowledge that honey bees are in trouble spreads. I feel that one of the best ways to fix the problem that the honey bees are having is by working together, and the more people that know about the honey bees then the more help the bees will get. I enjoy working in the vanEngelsdorp lab. I usually only go in for about an hour or two at a time, but it always seems to fly by. Compared to sitting in a class for an hour and a half listening to a lecture, working in the lab is much more dynamic and captivating and definitely keeps my attention for the full time. My goal of research is to further on the knowledge of honey bees and to help spread what I know about honey bees to others.

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Written By: Heather Eversole

Heather Eversole has written 22 post in this blog.

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.