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Moving West and Settling In

This panorama of Badlands National Park was taken about 2000 miles into our trip from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Chico, California. Rob Snyder and I were moving to Chico to join Katie Lee for a chance to work with some of the best beekeepers/breeders and scientists in the country. We left Pennsylvania Monday June 13, 2011 and arrived in Chico, California 7 days later. From the Badlands we got back on Interstate 90 and moved toward Wyoming stopping briefly at Devil’s Tower National Monument and Grand Teton National Park to take the following images: Before hitting the Tetons we did some fishing in Shoshone National Forest…

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Future

There is so much we can do in the future. During the formation of the BeeInformed Partnership, Dennis approached Marla about taking the Bee Team under its umbrella. Dennis wanted people on the ground to work hands-on with beekeepers in northern California. Marla and I were all too excited at the prospect of being a part of BeeInformed. For one, I get two new team members, Rob Snyder and Mike Andree, who just arrived last week. They are great guys and experienced samplers, so working with them out here should be lots of fun and go smoothly. BeeInformed will also fund the analysis of virus…

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Colony, a Beekeeping Documentary out on DVD

  Get out your popcorn. Film directors Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell’s bee movie “Colony” is out on DVD. Avoiding the quirky approach of “Vanishing of the Bees”, Carter and Ross allow you to experience the reality of California beekeepers facing threats of Colony Collapse Disorder and the declining US economy in 2008-2009. Certainly not a downer, the film also captures the excitement of life challenges, nature, agriculture, and successes hard fought. I had the opportunity to meet Carter and Ross over dinner at the 2007 Heartland Apiculture Society conference in Kentucky. They were just about to set out on their cinematic journey West after…

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Present

I never thought I would get sick of listening to classic rock, but I did on the three day drive from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Chico, CA on a road trip with my dad. It is his favorite music, and since he was generous to come with me we listened to whatever he wanted. It was a small price to pay for his company and driving help. We left Minnesota and her terrible winter on December 1st. I was hoping to make it out of state before snow hit, but we were far too late. Our cross-mid-country trip took three days and about 2,500 miles. I…

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California Bound

There are so many things that have been said and written about the state of California; the people, the places, the lifestyle...Growing up in Pennsylvania I have always dreamed of living in California.  In just a few hours Rob and I will begin the 2800 mile drive from Allentown, PA to Chico, CA. This past week has been very exciting.  I watched one of my younger brothers get married last Friday and went to the beach to see my other brother play in his band.  I took an over night river trip with 8 of my very close friends and spent some time talking to…

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Origins

On this blog, I will share the work I am doing with bee breeders in Northern California. However, I would to give a more complete story through a three-part blog of how I got here, what I am doing now, and where I hope this project will go. Origins Bee breeding if the most interesting part of beekeeping. There is so much to learn with all the complexities of how to choose breeder queens, how to maintain lines, and different ways to use the bee’s biology to raise new queen bees.  I was one of Dr. Marla Spivak’s students at the University of Minnesota, and…

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Weather in Northern California

Beekeepers are farmers. And like other types of farmers, beekeepers depend. on the weather. And this was a particularly stressful year for weather. Queen season started out with temperatures much lower than normal and rainy in February and March. The problem with the poor weather is the queens that normally would go out and mate did not have a single day nice enough to fly, resulting in beekeepers not being able to cage mated queens to sell. The queens had to wait two weeks until they could mate, putting the bee breeders two weeks behind their normal schedule. They had to push queen orders back,…

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What is that Smell?…American Foulbrood!

Three summers ago I was hired as a Pennsylvania Apiary Inspector. When I started this job I thought back to my mentor Dr. Robert Berthold. He taught us bee diseases and pest by showing slides and using key descriptive words. This inspired me to start photographing various diseases and pest found inside and outside of the hive. Over the next few weeks I will share my experience with some of these diseases and pest. I chose American Foulbrood (AFB) first since it’s the most notable brood disease. So I first thought to myself…How does AFB spread? America Foulbrood is introduced to the hive by drifting…

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Laying Worker

When you dissect thousands of bees, it is important to remember that exploration is the process and discovery is the goal. Pictured below is the stimulated ovaries of a worker that I discovered while performing an autopsy on a honey bee.   In beekeeping terms we would call this a “laying worker”. During the period of time from queenlessness to colony death workers may sometimes begin to lay eggs.    A laying worker occurs when the ovaries of worker bees are stimulated. The ovaries develop allowing her to lay eggs. Normally ovary development in workers is suppressed by the presence of uncapped brood. Sampling and assessing honey…

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Bee Informed Partnership Press Release!

Today began much like any other day; a cup of coffee while answering emails before settling into the real tasks of the day.  Many of us have been working on this project as a small team for over 3 months. In anticipation of NIFA announcing our 5 year grant, our work has been infused with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm.  After much waiting (and to be honest, wagers on the side as to when the announcement would take place), the press release was made at 1 p.m. EST today.  We can finally unite all the team members as a whole and forge on as…

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