The NEW Bee and Pollinator Research Lab Breaks Ground at the University of Minnesota!

Groundbreaking at the University of Minnesota for the new bee lab.
Groundbreaking at the University of Minnesota for the new Bee and Pollinator Research Lab. (From left to right: Gary Reuter, Karen Kaler, Jack Thomas, Betty Thomas, Lori K. Watso, Brian Buhr, Regent Honorable Thomas Devine, Minnesota Representative Alice Hausman, U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, Dr. Marla Spivak, Patti Smith, Brian Smith, Dr. Dan Cariveau)


Schematic Design: Bee and Pollinator Research Lab – St. Paul campus, UMN Alliance Architects

On August 2 and 3, 2015, we had an amazing series of groundbreaking festivities to celebrate the construction of the new Bee and Pollinator Research Lab, that will be built on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota beginning this fall. Beekeepers and friends from across the nation came to celebrate with us, and U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, Minnesota Representative Alice Hausman, President Eric and Karen Kaler, Jack and Betty Thomas from Mann Lake, Ltd, and Lori K. Watso, Secretary/Treasurer of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community were but a few of our fun guests.

This 10,500 square foot facility will be built on the north end of campus, just off Gortner Avenue, across from the beautiful Horticulture demonstration gardens. It will be the research home for the honey bee program that I run, and for a new and very exciting research program on native bees that will be run by our newest faculty member, Dr. Dan Cariveau. Dr. Cariveau will be working with our Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies to survey native bees around the state, and will be studying how we can increase habitat — flowers and nesting sites– to support these important and understudied pollinators.

The new facility will allow us to finally conduct our research and outreach programs from one consolidated facility, rather than having to run among various buildings, including the Entomology department and our old (and condemned!) honey house and sheds spread across campus. The new facility will include space for new labs, offices and a meeting room, honey extraction, and apiaries for research and teaching. It will provide space for our growing Bee Squad to more effectively mentor urban beekeepers and expand their programming. It will feature bee-friendly landscaping all around the building, providing a beautiful public face for the St. Paul campus.

Construction costs are estimated at $6 million, $4M of which is coming from State bonding to the University, and the remaining $2M is being raised through generous donations from a large and wonderful group of supporters. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Martin Foundation, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Jack and Betty Thomas from Mann Lake, Ltd, Brian and Patty Smith, a wonderful person that prefers to remain anonymous, and the hundreds of other people and businesses that have contributed toward our goal. This is a dream come true for me, but mostly, it is a place we can be proud of and enjoy knowing we are all helping bees.


The NEW Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center at the

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Schematic Design: The Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center – MN Landscape Arboretum MSR Architects


The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center is responding to an urgent issue concerning the health of bees, pollinators, humans, and the environment by creating a timeless public community resource. At this exciting new destination, visitors will be encouraged to engage in innovative hands-on experiences that will help them to better understand how they can do something to help bees and other native pollinators in their own backyards and communities. The Arboretum is working closely with my team and me at the Bee Lab to develop exhibits and provide information that is grounded in the latest research.

The Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center will sit atop the highest point at the Arboretum and be the first facility developed on the Arboretum’s new Red Barn Farm Garden Campus. Bringing the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center to life is a $7 million effort. We are eternally grateful to our generous donors who share the goal of creating a public education facility that will seek to offer informal and formal year-round educational opportunities for children and adults to learn about the lives of bees and other pollinators, their agricultural and ecological importance as pollinators, and the essential, fascinating, and delicious ways our human lives intersect with theirs.

A lead gift from Alice Tashjian and Joe Tashjian and Kay Savik brought this vision to life. Many generous donors followed with significant gifts including Whitney and Betty MacMillan, Cynthia and Gregory Page, Stone Pier Foundation, Gary and Helen Bergran, Jon and Susan Campbell, David and Maryanne Maiser, Donald and Mary Anne Ryks, Ronald and Lynn Olson, Bart and Kandi Osborn, the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and many others who want to be part of bringing this timely and important new resource to our region.

The Arboretum will break ground on Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center in early September 2015 with plans to open to the public in summer 2016.

The bee research and public facilities on the St. Paul campus and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum continue to seek private funding for both facilities.  With your help, bees will survive and thrive for generations to come.


Please consider giving as generously as you can. To learn more contact:

Bee and Pollinator Research Lab Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center
Shana Zaiser
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences 
235 Skok Hall 2003 Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108   
612-626-3045 or
Leslie Nitabach
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive Chaska, MN 55318
612-301-1267 or



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