Sentinel Apiary Program 2020 Wrap-Up and 2021 Sign-Up

Happy New Year! The beginning of 2021 marks the end of the Sentinel Apiary Program's sixth successful year—and the beginning of an exciting new one. In 2020, beekeepers with 76 apiaries representing 394 colonies participated in the Sentinel Program. The University of Maryland lab processed almost 2,000 Sentinel samples over the season to monitor Varroa and Nosema! You can see in the map of Sentinel Apiary Locations shown below that we worked with beekeepers from six of the nine NOAA climatic regions (the regions with the most consistent climates across the US). The newly released Sentinel 2020 End of Year Report details 2020's seasonal data…

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The Bee Informed Partnership Field Specialists’ Report on 2020 Commercial Beekeeping Trends

The Bee Informed Partnership's Tech Transfer Team offers a honey bee colony health monitoring program tailored to meet the specific needs facing commercial beekeepers. The Tech Transfer Team program's Field Specialists follow commercial beekeeping operations during their yearly migrations across the country, to provide pollination services and producing honey (Figure 1). Field Specialists perform colony health inspections, on-site testing for several important honey bee pests and diseases, including the destructive Varroa mite, collect samples if additional laboratory testing is required, and consult with the participating beekeepers regarding their colony health management plan. In 2020 alone, BIP's Tech Transfer Team collectively inspected over 13,000 colonies, put…

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Happy Holidays from Bee Informed Partnership!

Season’s Greetings! As the Holiday season approaches, The Bee Informed Partnership team would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you for the support you’ve shown throughout this year! You have helped us push through many obstacles that the global pandemic has put in front of so many nonprofits, and we can’t thank you enough. With your support, BIP serves the U.S. beekeeping community through several programs: The Technical Transfer Team Program offers commercial beekeepers access to a wide range of resources and reports on the health of their colonies to help them improve on their management practices to strengthen the health of…

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Beekeeper Best Management Practices

Every spring, The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) administers the Annual Colony Loss and Management Survey to beekeepers across the country. The survey was begun in 2006 to keep close track of US honey bee colony mortality rates after many of the country’s beekeepers began reporting alarmingly high overwinter colony losses. The survey was amended a few years later to include questions about beekeeper management practices, in order to record trends in management strategies and evaluate the link between those practices and risk of colony mortality. As part of her Ph.D. thesis at University of Maryland’s Bee Research Lab, BIP’s Science Coordinator, Dr. Nathalie Steinhauer, in…

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One Colony or Two? How Hives Can Share

One of the first things beekeepers learn, often even before getting bees, is that a colony has many bees but just a single queen. While this is surely true in the vast majority of colonies, I have seen two queens coexisting enough times—and even once found three in a single brood box—to know that the things we beekeepers know as rules may only be viewed as guidelines by the bees themselves. Another thing you learn very early in beekeeping is that a single stack of boxes represents a single colony. The colony is the unit, living in a hive of its own, discrete from the…

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The Bee Health Collective, A Fantastic New Bee Health Tool

Are you a beekeeper looking to find or post a job? Are you a student looking for bee-related scholarships? Are you an educator or concerned citizen looking for accurate, up-to-date U.S. honey bee colony health statistics? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then you should visit the Bee Health Collective’s website https://beehealthcollective.org and have a look around! The Bee Health Collective has designed a “one-stop shop” for all of your U.S. honey bee information needs, presented in a well-organized, easily navigated set of menus. In About Honey Bees you can find recent, accurate, peer-reviewed information on a range of honey…

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Chalkbrood Disease Primer

When I started inspecting colonies for honey bee diseases in Pennsylvania in 2008, the first and most prevalent disease I found was chalkbrood. I observed this disease a few weeks into the spring season while inspecting a few colonies. I had seen the disease on several other occasions, so it was very easy to identify by the hard “chalk-like” mummies inside the cells. Ascosphaera apis is the fungus responsible for this bee disease. The exact origin of chalkbrood is unknown, but it most likely arrived from Europe with the alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata), when the bee species was introduced to assist with pollination demands…

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Sentinel Apiary Program October Update

Hello beekeepers, it is hard to believe it is almost the end of the 2020 Sentinel season already! We had a little sabbatical from our Sentinel blogging this year because so much has been going on, but we are back! There are many exciting things on their way for the Sentinel Apiaries program, and I cannot wait to start sharing them with you over the next few months. In the meantime, here is a little sneak peek of what's to come. Before I delve into tidbits from this year, I want to let you know about the Sentinel app that our fantastic IT team is…

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The Challenges Of Setting Up A Small Case Study Experiment: Part I

This year, I vowed I would conduct one or two small case study trials to investigate some hunches I have had for a while. I am mostly curious about Oxalic Acid Sublimation (OAV) as a treatment against Varroa mites. Primarily I would like to investigate the recommended dosage. But before I can set this up as a valid experimental design, I need to set up some colonies to perform an experiment on. At the Bee Informed Partnership, we look at thousands of colonies each year, but we usually do not maintain our own. This year, I set up a small apiary and ran into some…

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Bee Blown Away

Late summer is the time of year I start hearing about good honey crops. What most non-beekeepers do not realize is how much work goes into harvesting that honey. The first big step is to remove the bees from the honey supers. Beekeepers have several good choices for doing this task. Shaking/Brushing For hobbyists with a just few honey supers it may be easiest to shake and brush the bees off each frame back into the hive. Bring an empty super with a bee tight lid to put the brushed off frames in as you go along. You probably have a bee brush and an…

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