About Us

bees

The UNL Bee Lab pursues research questions and extension programs focused on better understanding various stressors impacting pollinator health.

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2017 Bee Fun Day Event Herbie Husker Swarm Demonstration

Photo: Herbie Husker Bee Beard at 2017 BEE FUN DAY

ABOUT UNL

Our Services

1. Hive health inspections: They are one hour for $50 and include recommendations based on the pest & pathogen diagnostic and a varroa test, we will also answer any follow-up questions. More information is pinned on our facebook wall. Just send us a message, email or call to schedule.


2. APHIS (Animal/Plant Health Inspection Service) program for the USDA: If you have 10 or more hives in one location, you can qualify for a free honey bee health inspection through the APHIS USDA program. This feeds into the nationwide surveys on honey bee health and colony losses and provides you with feedback on the health of your apiary (https://bip2.beeinformed.org/reports/state_reports/state_report/?year=2016&state=NE ). Send us a message, email or call to get on our list.


3. Education- Extension & Outreach Programs: We provide a variety of education events on bees, pollinators, & conservation biology for any audience, from Pre-K to professional seminar presentations. We can provide a live observation honey bee hive, presentations from native landscapes to pollinators, educational interactive activities, life cycles, and so much more. Please fill out our Survey to schedule and match our materials with your goals: https://goo.gl/forms/mEQ6cECQLnwdxypA2


4. Research: As a University lab, we provide credible information, sources and are striving to find solutions! Currently, our undergraduate, Masters, & Ph.D. students are studying subjects ranging from sustainable landscapes to reduct pest exposure, viral transmission amongst bees, pollinators along the Prairie Corridor, enhancing roadside ecosystems for pollinators, landowner self-efficacy, human dimensions focus on women in beekeeping, effects of pesticide exposure on hives and varroa mite fecundity, wild bee surveys, creation of the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program, identifying ornamental plants that wild bees use in urban landscapes, identifying gardening practices that affect pollen and nectar rewards for wild bees, and SO much more. View our website for the people in the lab and their respective projects: https://entomology.unl.edu/bee-lab


5. Mentorship: We take passionate undergrads under our wing for part-time work, UCARE (Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience) projects they have proposed, or if they are interested in job shadowing within the field of Entomology. More information on UCARE can be found here: https://ucare.unl.edu/. Email/call for more information.


6. Great Plains Master Beekeeping: Regional beekeeper training & certification program to increase the amount of well-education beekeepers and provider resources for new & experienced beekeepers to continue their education and help others become advocates for bees. Anyone can join! Any program can apply to become certified. A few of the benefits of becoming a member include free entry into Open Apiary hands-on sessions, online lectures and other distance learning opportunities, community with other beekeepers, and discounts on Learning Series programs. Check out available courses, how to become a member or certified program at http://gpmb.unl.edu


7. Beekeeping Workshops: Each year, we provide workshops for Year 1, Year 2 and advance beekeepers. It is a great opportunity to learn factual and research-based practices, walk away with workbooks and reliable information, tools and credible connections in the beekeeping community. More information is posted on our website at https://entomology.unl.edu/bee-lab, and facebook wall/ events.


8. Honey Sales: We have 8oz, 12oz, 3lb, 5 lb, 12lb jugs, and buckets for sale! You can purchase these at Hardin Hall or the Dairy Store, both on East Campus--- or go through us directly. We have prices listed on our website, pinned on our wall, or just contact us. You can call, email or message us to order.... or just fill out our request form directly: https://goo.gl/forms/6ANCzkzCaN0kW5lF3


9. ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS: We are here to help you, help pollinators! We have so many informative resources from value-added products, hive management, recommended native food sources to plant for bees and more.

Call, email, message us anytime and we will do best to help! 402-472-8378. unlbeelab@unl.edu

Beekeeping Workshops: 2020 REGISTER HERE

I) Introductory (Year 1) Beekeeping Workshop - Omaha, NE

This is an introductory level course that focuses on everything you need to start beekeeping, including topics on beekeeping equipment, protective gear, honey bee biology, stressors, and management basics. Part I of the course includes lectures by several speakers & hands-on activities. Part II of the course is a field day that gets you in the hives and takes the lessons from Part I into practice. Learn how to setup the equipment, install and handle bees safely, and perform hive inspections.

Date, Time, Location:
Part I (Lecture) Feb 1st, 2020 | Extension Office 8015 West Center Road Omaha NE 68124

Part II (field Day) = April 25, 2020 Extension Office 8015 West Center Road Omaha NE 68124

Cost$80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit, refreshments & lunch. $30 for each additional family member (does not include handbooks)

II) Introductory (Year 2) Beekeeping Workshop - Omaha 2020

This course builds upon the basic management practices covered in Year 1 beekeeping and focuses on how to maintain healthy honey bee colonies. This course is meant for beekeepers with at least one year of experience. Part I of the course includes lectures by several speakers & hands-on activities. Topics include swarm management, splitting colonies, reversals, pest and pathogen management, honey production, and value-added products. Part II of the course is a field day that gets you in the hives and takes the lessons from Part I into practice.

Date, Time, Location:
Part I (lecture)= Saturday, March 21, 2020 | Extension Office 8015 West Center Road Omaha NE 68124

Check-in starting at 8:30  Lecture - 9a-4p 

Part II (field Day) = May 16, 2020 | Extension Office 8015 West Center Road Omaha NE 68124

Cost$80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit, refreshments & lunch. $30 for each additional family member (does not include handbooks)

 III)  Introductory (Year 1) Beekeeping Workshop - Kimmel Orchard - Nebraska City, NE

This is an introductory level course that focuses on everything you need to start beekeeping, including topics on beekeeping equipment, protective gear, honey bee biology, stressors, and management basics. Part I of the course includes lectures by several speakers & hands-on activities. Part II of the course is a field day that gets you in the hives and takes the lessons from Part I into practice. Learn how to setup the equipment, install and handle bees safely, and perform hive inspections.

Date, Time, Location:
Part I (lecture)= Feb 15, 2020 | Kimmel Orchard 5995 G Road, Nebraska City, NE 68410

Check-in starting at 8:30 | Lecture - 9a-4p 

Part II (field Day) = April 4th | Kimmel Orchard 5995 G Road, Nebraska City, NE 68410

Cost$80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit, refreshments & lunch. $30 for each additional family member (does not include handbooks)

IV)  Introductory (Year 1) Beekeeping Workshop - Wesleyan University - Lincoln, NE

This is an introductory level course that focuses on everything you need to start beekeeping, including topics on beekeeping equipment, protective gear, honey bee biology, stressors, and management basics. Part I of the course includes lectures by several speakers & hands-on activities. Part II of the course is a field day that gets you in the hives and takes the lessons from Part I into practice. Learn how to setup the equipment, install and handle bees safely, and perform hive inspections.

Part I (lecture part 1)= Feb 21, 2020 | Feb 28, 2020 (Lecture) | Wesleyan University 5000 St Paul Ave, Lincoln NE

Check-in time 1:30  Lecture times 2p-5p both days 

Part II (field Day) = April 17, 2020 |April 24, 2020 | Location - TBA

Cost: $80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit, refreshments & lunch. $30 for each additional family member (does not include handbooks)

V)  Introductory (Year 1) Beekeeping Workshop - Grand Island, NE

This is an introductory level course that focuses on everything you need to start beekeeping, including topics on beekeeping equipment, protective gear, honey bee biology, stressors, and management basics. Part I of the course includes lectures by several speakers & hands-on activities. Part II of the course is a field day that gets you in the hives and takes the lessons from Part I into practice. Learn how to setup the equipment, install and handle bees safely, and perform hive inspections.

Part I (lecture part 1)= March 14, 2020 | Raising Nebraska: 501 East Fonner Park Road Suite 100, Grand Island NE

Check-in starting at 8:30  Lecture - 9a-4p 

Part II (field Day) = May 2 | Location - TBA

Cost: $80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit, refreshments & lunch. $30 for each additional family member (does not include handbooks)

Other advanced workshops offered every third year:
Queen Rearing - Early summer 2021

This course is meant for advanced beekeepers with 3+ years of experience.  Learn about how to manage hives for queen rearing, queen qualities for local needs, different races of queens, trait selection for varroa mite & disease resistance.  Class size is limited to 40 people.

Advanced Pest & Pathogen Diagnostics Beekeeping Workshop - Early summer 2022


This course is meant for advanced beekeepers with 3+ years of experience. Learn about diseases and their transmission vectors, treatment for honey bee diseases, and trait selection for Varroa mite and disease resistance.

Pre-registration is required for all workshops:

Pre-registration is required for all workshops:

Register by Clicking hereUNL Bee Lab 2020 Courses

Make checks payable to: University of Nebraska

Send class fee to:
UNL Bee Lab
103 Entomology Hall
Lincoln, NE 68583-0816

Email: unlbeelab@unl.edu
Phone: 402-472-8678

*Your seat will not be reserved until your check for payment is received.

 

 If you have any questions please call 402-472-8378.  The $80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa monitoring kit, refreshments & lunch. $30 for each additional family member (does not include handbooks only covers food costs)

People: UNL Bee Lab Team

Director

Dr. Judy Wu-Smart

Dr. Judy Wu-Smart profile picture holding frame of bees

Hometown: Concord, CA
Degree(s): BS in Zoology at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California and received my MS degree in Entomology at Washington State University under the advisement of Dr. Walter Sheppard. I continued onto a PhD program with Dr. Marla Spivak at the University of Minnesota where I examined the effects of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides on honey bee and bumblebee queens and colony development.
Lab Focus:

  • I've been the Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist for the UNL Bee Lab since Fall 2015. In my new role at UNL, I'm committed to developing a pollinator health program to help beekeepers, scientists, policy makers, and land managers understand the underlying stressors in bee health and their interactions with other biotic and abiotic factors, such as environmental toxicants. 
  • My goal is to integrate the research and extension efforts with policy to inform the regulatory-decision making process by identifying risk mitigation opportunities and best management practices that will better protect beneficial pollinators in agricultural and urban landscapes. (https://entomology.unl.edu/faculty/dr-judy-wu-smart).

Email: jwu-smart@unl.edu

Ph.D. Students

Surabhi Ph.D. student proudly displaying her research poster

Surabhi Vakil
Hometown: Palampur, Himachal Pradesh India
Degree(s): BSc. Agriculture and a MSc. Entomology from Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Krishi Vishvavidyalaya, Palamapur
Lab Focus:

  • My research is about studying ways to enhance the agricultural landscape to increase forage availability and reduce neonicotinoid insecticide exposure to improve the health of bees. These enhancements are sustainable and practical solutions for growers which will make adoption of pollinator conservation practices easier. 
  • Another aspect of the research is to determine the negative impacts of Bt pollen to monarch butterfly larvae under field conditions. The research involves quantification of Bt pollen on milkweed leaves, determination of potential concentration of Bt protein that can pose negative impacts on monarch butterfly population.
  • 2017 update: Since it is the first year of the research project, Pollinator plots were established at ARCD in Mead, NE. Transects were conducted to determine background diversity and abundance of the pollinators, Milkweed leaves were collected from the plots adjoining corn plantations, were analysed to determine the concentration of the Bt pollen on them.

Email: guptasurbhi8a@gmail.com

Natalia Ph.D. student professional profile picture
Natalia Bjorklund
Hometown: Greeley, NE 
Degree(s): B.S., Horticulture UNL; M.S. Horticulture UTK
Lab Focus:

  • My project has 4 components; identifying ornamental plants that wild bees use in urban landscapes, identifying gardening practices that affect pollen and nectar rewards for wild bees, creating a database of current research of the bees of Nebraska, and the creation of the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program (https://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification). This program is done in conjunction with three Nebraska Extension personnel and strives to educate the public on creating habitat for bees. We are currently up to 56 certified habitats across the state. 

Email: natalia.bjorklund@unl.edu

Graduate Students

Jen smiling as bees gather on her shoulder and hair with no veil

Jennifer Mai Albrecht
Hometown: Salina, KS
Degree(s): B.S., Natural Resource & Conservation Management
Lab Focus:

  • I am examining how pesticide residues impact the health of the hive, and how they impact the fecundity of varroa mite which is a major pest of honey bees.
  • My research will also look at dead bee traps and how effective they are, as well as comb replacement that is more economic and easier.

Email: jennifer.mai1989@gmail.com

Bridget smiling with green conifer tree in background

Bridget Gross
Hometown: Vermilion, Ohio
Degree(s): B.A., 2018, Environmental Sciences from The College of Wooster
Lab Focus:

  • Previously, I worked at Ohio State University as a Research Assistant in their Honey Bee Lab. During my time there, I assisted graduate students on research regarding pesticide toxicology and the effectiveness of different Varroa mite treatments. At OSU, I conducted research regarding the effectiveness of drone brood removal as a form of mite treatment and how we can utilize drones as edible insects. 
  • Here at UNL, I am looking at how the Center for Rural Affairs "Women in Beekeeping and Farming" program impacts beekeepers and landowners. My research primarily focuses on how this program impacts beekeeper/landowner knowledge, beekeeper/landowner self-efficacy, and honey bee health. Additionally, since this program is targeted towards women, one of my goals is to describe their current and past experiences as women beekeepers. 
  • I also work as the Entomology Department's Bruner Club Outreach Coordinator. I love going out into the community and educating people about insects!
Undergraduate Student Technicians

Helen smiling in her beekeeper suit and veil
Helen Little
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Degree: Current UNL student majoring in Biological Systems Engineering
Lab Focus:

  • I was a recipient of the Nebraska Beekeepers Association scholarship and got my first hive in the summer of 2018. I’ve been exploring the world of beekeeping ever since, and decided to join the Bee Lab crew to further my knowledge of native bees/wildflowers and solutions to widespread bee decline.
  • My future plans are to become an environmental engineer and work with water or atmospheric quality, hopefully innovating new solutions to pollution and climate issues.

Shelby Kittle

Shelby Kittle

Hometown: Ord, Nebraska
Degree(s): Current UNL student majoring in Agriculture Education with a minor in Entrepreneurship
Lab Focus:

  • I am an undergrad research assistant. I love bees and learning about them. I am also a beekeeper myself.
  • I want to be an agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor in the state of Nebraska. I plan on keeping bees for a long time to come.

Madison King

Madison King

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Degree: Current UNL student studying biology with a minor in poultry science

Lab Focus:

  • Joined the lab as an undergraduate technician May 2019.

  • Working toward developing a UCARE research project and discovering more about bees.

  • In the future, I plan to work as a public health veterinarian for the Army.

Erik Strickland

Erik Strickland

Hometown: Lincoln, NE

Degree(s): Current UNL student majoring in Fisheries & Wildlife with a minor in Music

Lab Focus

  • I currently am assisting graduate students with their research by forming various tasks throughout the lab or going out into the field to help with different projects.

  •  I hope to use this experience to help me understand more about insects and to work with people in the same career path that I will end up going down!

Hanna Arrowsmith

Hanna Arrowsmith

Hometown: Syracuse, NE

Degree: B.A., 2019, Biology and Spanish from Nebraska Wesleyan University 

Lab Focus:

  • My interest in beekeeping was fostered several years ago while working as a caregiver for a home health business. While at Wesleyan, I collaborated with Dr. Jerry Bricker to establish a beekeeping club that allows students to learn about hive management, conduct research, as well as enjoy the delicious honey from the annual harvest!
  • My focus during undergrad was primarily healthcare-related biology, so this is a new and very exciting environment for me to be in! After studying abroad in Spain for two semesters, I had time to reflect on what I wanted most in life, which is what brought me to my decision to pursue entomology.

 Erica Engel

Erica Engel

Hometown: Omaha, NE

Degree(s): Current UNL student majoring in Insect Science

Lab Focus

  • I have always loved insects and would like to learn about and protect them

  • I joined bee lab to gain experience in the field and in the lab


Fiona Callahan

Fiona Callahan

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Degree(s): Current UNL student majoring in Insect Science and minoring in Plant Biology

Lab Focus:

  • Joined the lab late September 2019 as an undergraduate lab technician.
  • I wanted to get involved with the department and learn more about bees and what Bee Lab does.

 

Staff

Dustin Scholl

Dustin Scholl

Hometown: Valentine, NE

Degree:  Associates of Computer Science

Lab Focus:

  • I am the Apiary Manager for the UNL Bee Lab.  In my role as Apiary Manager, I manage the bee hives we have here at UNL for research & extension.  I order and maintain the beekeeping equipment.  I help conduct preliminary research studies, coordinate and put on extension events, assist in teaching beekeeping workshops, order lab supplies, perform honey bee health surveys across the state, answer beekeeping questions we get from the public, un-tip porta-potties and ward off sugar syrup hungry raccoons.

  • I have been keeping bees with my wife since 2010.  In 2009 we took a Beginning Beekeeping class at Southeast Community College –Continuing education here in Lincoln.  I also sit on the board for the Nebraska Beekeepers Association as the Information Director.  In my spare time I tend to my personal bee hives with my wife, Kat.  I also enjoy gardening and video games.

Sheldon Brummel

Sheldon Brummel

Hometown: Papillion, NE

Degree: B.S., 2016, Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Lab Focus:

  • Great Plains Master Beekeeping Project Coordinator http://gpmb.unl.edu
  • Coordinating with beekeeping associations across the Great Plains  to standardize educational materials and field training activities, assist with extension programs, and review applications for certificate advancement. 
  • Other duties include assisting with the development of the Great Plains Master Beekeeping website, social media, newsletters and other forms of promotion and recruitment for the program as well as offering exploratory workshops for underserved communities that will be co-organized with our partnering organization, The Center for Rural Affairs, and other collaborators.
  •  This is some of the work we do here at the lab but I am blessed in being able to help all the other students with their projects as well. In my spare time I love to grow native wildflowers and plants, woodwork, shoot guns, hike, and tend my own beehive.

Email: sbrummel2@unl.edu

courtney sitting on bench with bees swarmed her face looking like a beard=

Courtney Brummel

Hometown: Gretna, NE
Degree(s): B.S., 2017, Fisheries and Wildlife: Conservation Biology University of Nebraska Lincoln. Minors in Environmental Science & Biology.
Lab Focus:

  • As the Outreach Coordinator, I manage presentation requests, media, extension & outreach opportunities and our education program.
  • I also assist the PhD and Graduate students with their research, manage hives and assist with APHIS surveys
    • APHIS (Animal/Plant Health Inspection Service) program for the USDA. The APHIS program surveys honey bees across the state from both stationary and migratory beekeepers and it quantifies the health of the hives. This feeds into the nationwide surveys on honey bee health and colony losses (https://bip2.beeinformed.org/reports/state_reports/state_report/?year=2016&state=NE ).
  • I’m interested in developing the overlap of ecological systems and conservation management. I believe in strengthening the ties humans have with nature in order to address the dilemma of balancing the needs of social, economic and environmental systems. I have aspirations to attend graduate school, and enjoy hiking, pottery, ornithology, brewing mead and scuba diving.

Email: cbrummel3@unl.edu

Projects

Great Plains Master Beekeeping program (http://gpmb.unl.edu)

Bees of Nebraska

Pollinators Along the City of Lincoln Prairie Corridor (Phase 2)

Establishment of Wildflower Islands to Enhance Roadsides for Pollinators

Viral Transmission Among Pollinators in Enhanced Landscapes

Urban Landscapes for Urban Bees

Sustainable Landscape Enhancements to Reduce Pesticide Exposure & Promote Establishment of Beneficial Insect Communities in Agroecosystems

Customized Landscape Designs to Promote Honey Bee Health & Honey Production in Nebraska

Conservation Efforts

Beekeeping Resources

Bee Keeping FAQ
Find a list of commonly asked questions related to beekeeping.
Bee Keeping Glossary
Find a list of common terms related to beekeeping.
Hive Inspection Data Sheet
Use this data sheet to help you record and document what is happening in your hive.
Honeybee Plant List
Find a short list of lesser known plants that support both native and honey bees.
Land, Seeds, and Bee-Business Resources
Find a list of financial resources that can help you start and grow your hive.

Why Does Bee Health Matter? The Science Surrounding Honey Bee Health Concerns and What We Can Do About It (CAST commentary June 2017) video

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