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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Completion of the National Honey Bee Survey Kits…Finally!!

After months of hard work and dedication from our Penn State University team, all of the 875 kits for the National Honey Bee Disease Survey have been boxed and are ready to be shipped out to 33 states. We did encounter some problems in trying to obtain supplies and equipment for sample kits. Most were due to shipping issues or because stores ran out of needed supplies. But finally, the kits are finished and will be transported to the USDA Bee Research Lab. Here they will be distributed to various states involved in the national survey. There is a bottle of champagne in this gigapan…

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Traveling across the nation conducting field work has led me to many incredible places, introduced me to some remarkable people, and helped build several unbelievable experiences. The people, the places, and the things I’ve done here at Penn State have helped to create an insatiable taste for life and a broader perspective of the world and how I fit into it! Yes, a lot of the time on the road is spent doing field work, traveling from apiary to apiary, or orchard to orchard, working long hours, many miles from home, but we are handed gifts along the way. These gifts come in many forms…

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Nosema. This gut fungus is still a mystery to me. The more I sample, the less it seems to make sense. I take samples for Nosema, analyze them, and provide the results to the beekeeper. The idea is to provide hopefully useful information to help with treatment decisions or decisions on choosing breeder. However, when I provide the beekeeper with the results, I do not know what to tell them. Nosema levels just don’t seem to correlate with colony health: huge and healthy colonies can have 30 million spores per bee. I don’t even know what levels are considered to be high or potentially damaging. Or even if…

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Colletes inaequalis congregation area

This is a large congregation of Colletes inaequalis, commonly known as the “Mining Bee.” This natural phenomenon occurs between March and July. The bee ranges from Nova Scotia, Canada south to Georgia, United States. This bee is known to be polylectic (diverse forage), but can specialize on pollinating apples. Colletes will fly about a half mile to a mile and a half for forage. To view snapshots and full screen viewing of this Gigapan, see If you are lucky enough to find a congregation area, it is a sight to see. There can be hundreds to thousands of these small, excavated tunnels present on…

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Packing for Sampling Trips

As Rob prepares to take one last trip to California (early May) to complete the field work for the National Honey Bee Survey I was reminded of this Gigapan. I chose to post this panorama because it illustrates the kind of thought and time that goes into our sampling trips. Keep in mind that this is only a picture of the electronic equipment we bring with us when we travel. There is much more that needs to be prepared and packaged before we can leave to complete field work. To view snapshots that describe what each of these items are and why I have packed…

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