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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Honey Bee Autopsy

It has been nearly four years since I began working for Penn State University under the supervision of Dennis vanEngelsdorp. I have done just about every task, duty, or job in our lab since then. My responsibilities as a technician range from collecting and analyzing samples to shipping and receiving samples, as well as cataloging, processing, and analyzing them. Job responsibilities have come and gone over the days, weeks, months, and years as an employee of the University. Just as I learned a new skill Dennis was always there pushing me to learn another and another and another… One of the duties I was originally…

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In the field: National Honey Bee Survey

This post comes in from Rob Snyder. This is a gigapan of Pat Stayer's Queen Production operation. In the image they are breaking up large colonies into smaller nucleus colonies. These nucleus colonies will have a queen cell placed inside each hive. The nucleus colonies are then located in apiaries called "Mating Yards." This yard is where queens will successfully mate, die or be superseded. After approximately 10 days in warm sunny weather, beekeepers will check the nucleus colony to observe the status of the queen. See snapshots and more detail about making up these sample kits at We were here to sample 8…

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Overwhelming Participation!

Late-breaking news for supporters of The Bee Informed Partnership – as of Sunday night, we have had over 4,000 participants in the Winter Loss Survey and almost 2,500 participants in the Beekeeper Management Survey!  This has exceeded our expectations and we hope to keep those surveys coming. We know that it is a tough decision whether to do your taxes first or take our surveys, but we aren’t asking for any money so perhaps that will sway your decision.  Please remember that the surveys are only open for 1 more week (closing on the same day that taxes are due – April 18th).  Thank you…

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