Our Tech Teams Rock! Highly trained to evaluate, sample, and inspect honey bee colonies, our Tech Transfer Teams interact with important stakeholder groups including commercial queen breeders, large honey producers, and commercial operations specializing in pollination services for our food system. Our teams conduct and demonstrate the importance of monitoring disease and parasite management while working with beekeepers in the field to collect samples, offer support, and analyze results. Together, beekeepers and Tech Transfer Teams interpret real world disease levels to make informed decisions about future treatments and hive management decisions.
John Klepps, University of Florida, Crop Protection Agent
I am a third generation beekeeper with a passion for bees. I was exposed to bees at a young age and began working with them by the age of 12. I grew up on a migratory bee operation that traveled from Wisconsin to Florida and back every year. I have worked in all aspects of beekeeping, from harvesting, extracting, moving/loading bees, and queen rearing. I am a former Apiary Inspector for the Florida Dept of Ag and Consumer Services. I’ve worked bees in 7 states including Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, and my home state of Florida. I have positively identified AFB in the field along with various other diseases and/or pests that invade a beehive. I have a vast network of beekeepers, of all levels, throughout the United States. I am patient with new bee keepers and I’m able to speak the language of the commercial beekeeper. Although I do not know everything about bees, I do have a true understanding of how they work and adapt to their environment.
My goal is to make a difference in the unique business of bee keeping. By providing and explaining the results of the tests performed. I also plan to communicate any threats that may affect certain regions or areas. I look forward to working with the Florida/Georgia beekeepers with the hope of solving the problems that many are having.
Northern California Team
Robert Snyder, University of California Cooperative Extension, Crop Protection Agent
I currently work out of the Butte County Cooperative Extension in Oroville, CA as a Crop Protection Agent. I received my B.S. in biology from Delaware Valley College, PA. There I attained a majority of my entomological knowledge from Dr. Chris Tipping and Dr. Robert Berthold. After graduation, I was an apiary inspector for 2 years at the Department of Agriculture in Pennsylvania. In my third year there, I still inspected some colonies but I mainly focused on The Pennsylvania Native Bee Survey (PANBS) where I pinned, labeled, entered data and identified native bees to genus species. Leo Donavall assisted me in learning the basics on positive Identifications of the native bees. Around the same time I began working on coordinating kit construction and distribution for the APHIS National Honey Bee Survey. I was also fortunate to conduct many of these surveys with fellow co-worker Mike Andree and Nathan Rice of USDA/ARS throughout California. All of these experiences have led me to where I am today, working to assist beekeepers in maintaining genetic diverse colonies resistant to parasites while reducing the use of chemical treatments in colonies. The BIP Diagnostic Lab at the University of MD is in an integral part of this process by generating reports in which we can track change and report to beekeepers vital information in a timely manner which may influence their treatment decisions.
Phoebe Koenig, University of Minnesota, Crop Protection Agent
I first worked with bees as an assistant in Tom Seeley’s lab at Cornell University. I loved observing bee behaviors and spending every sunny moment outside. After receiving my B.S. in entomology, I worked in Marla Spivak’s lab at the University of Minnesota, helping to manage lab colonies. I was then introduced to the Bee Informed Partnership.
I am now a part of the Midwest Tech Transfer Team, based out of the University of Minnesota. I am excited to be working with commercial, migratory beekeepers in MN and ND to monitor colonies for diseases and provide data to make informed decisions. I am happy to be a part of this important organization, helping to bridge the gap between beekeepers and the scientific community.
Garett Slater, University of Minnesota, Crop Protection Agent
I developed an interest beekeeping when I found a position working for a commercial beekeeper in North Dakota. For the next 8 years, I helped maintain over 2000 hives. I decided to attend North Dakota State University to pursue my research interests in honey bees, and ultimately gained a B.S. And M.S. Degree in Biology with a research focus on how nutrition influences queen quality. After graduation, I decided I wanted to work more closely with beekeepers, and serve as a liaison between institutional research and commercial beekeepers. Now, as part of the Midwest Tech-Transfer Team, I provide extension services to beekeepers in both MN and ND. Our goal is to assist beekeepers, help them maintain healthy colonies, and provide them information they can use to make more informed management decisions. I am excited to be an integral part of the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) because I not only get to communicate closely with commercial beekeepers, but I have theopportunity to provide beekeepers with solutions.
Dan Wyns, Michigan State University, Crop Protection Agent
I was introduced to honey bees over a decade ago while in New Zealand on a working holiday and have been consumed with caring for and learning about them ever since. Prior to joining BIP I was a commercial beekeeper in New Zealand and western Canada where I was fortunate to gain a diversity of beekeeping experience across a variety of climates and agricultural landscapes. I joined BIP in 2014 as a member of the PNW tech transfer team and spent 3 years working with beekeepers across OR, WA and ID. The addition of a Tech Transfer position in Michigan has allowed me to carry on working with bees and beekeepers while relocating to my home state. I was born in Grand Rapids, raised in Grand Haven, and studied in Ann Arbor so the opportunity serve the beekeeping community here is especially satisfying. My family roots run deep in Michigan horticulture and I look forward to continuing that tradition by working to promote colony health and support local agriculture.
Pacific Northwest Team
Ellen Topitzhofer, Oregon State University, Crop Protection Agent
I am part of the Pacific Northwest Tech Transfer Team, which operates out of Oregon State University, in Corvallis, Oregon. I work with migratory beekeepers in Oregon, Idaho and Washington. Out west, colonies primarily pollinate fruit, nut, oil seed, and vegetable seed crops for the majority of the year. I work with beekeepers to monitor colony health and gather pesticide exposure information from these diverse cropping systems. I received my BS from the University of Minnesota, and recently, my MS from Oregon State University, where I studied honey bee nutrition. I am also a volunteer mentor for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program and I enjoy teaching others about the joy of beekeeping.
Ben Sallmann, Oregon State University, Crop Protection Agent
As a member of the Pacific Northwest Tech Team, I work with migratory beekeepers from around the region and help monitor pest loads and colony health. Most of my experience with commercial beekeeping comes from my time as a Northern California Tech Team member, where I worked closely with queen breeders by helping select stock and test for hygienic behavior.
My interest in bees began much earlier working on our family’s apiary/organic vegetable farm in Wisconsin, and became further immersed while recently caretaking the farm for a couple years and managing the hives. I graduated from Ripon College in Ripon, WI in 2004 with a B.A. In Anthropology and Global Studies, and in previous lives worked as a musician, Logistics Manager for the Naval Underwater Construction Team, and international English teacher.
Dan Aurell, Texas A&M University, Crop Protection Agent
My first real introduction to beekeeping was learning on the job on a bee farm in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, Canada; I’ve been hooked ever since. I have also had the chance to work a season for a large beekeeping operation in New Zealand, where one of the neat things we did was to ship package bees back to Canada. My work experience is mostly in production agriculture, and I have a B.S. in Biology from Acadia University. I grew up in Sweden and Atlantic Canada.
Since arriving in Texas it has been so interesting to meet commercial beekeepers that operate out of the state. It is such a treat to work in step with the seasons and in the middle of a dynamic environment. I am excited to be in a role where I can help bee farmers to respond in time to the challenges that come out of this changing environment.