Want to donate directly to the Bee Lab?        Donate Now!

Or you can purchase local honey directly from us! Follow this link for an easy to use order form: Order Bee Lab Honey Funds from honey sales goes directly into bee research and graduate student enrichment!

About Us

bees

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

Follow us on Facebook:  UNL Bee Lab

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 or 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

10. Taking old beekeeping equipment: Do you or someone you know have old used beekeeping equipment? Did you try beekeeping and it just wasnt for you? The UNL Bee Lab will take donations of gently used beekeeping equipment, used hives or any other beekeeping equipment for a TAX DEDUCTABLE donation and FREE PICKUP. Please call 402-472-8378 for more details. 

11.  Hap-Bee Hour:  Every Friday from 5p-6p(cst) is Hap-Bee Hour!  Log-in to our virtual office with your beekeeping questions and your favorite brew in hand to chat with Extension Entomologists Randall Cass (Iowa State University Pollinator Working Group) and Judy Wu-Smart (University of Nebraska –Lincoln Bee Lab).  Ready or not the bees are here! Many of our courses have been limited due to covid19 concerns, therefore we’re providing some extra opportunities this summer for beekeepers to get some help.  Simply watch in the comfort of your house (or just listen over the phone if you have no computer).  Log into zoom on your mobile device and bring us into the yard!  Please email the UNL Bee Lab for the Zoom link and log-in info:   Email:  unlbeelab@unl.edu

Beekeeping Workshops: 2021 

I)  GPMB 2021 Virtual Fun Day

More info to come!

Introductory (Year 1) Beekeeping Workshop Virtual Lecture 
Register Here:  https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5o8oPEwobnNtDq5

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. 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 (Virtual Lecture) March 27th, 2021 

Part II (field Day) = April 17th - Kimmel Orchard | April 27 Pollinator Garden on East Campus  10a-2p

Cost$70 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit.  $30 for additional family members.

Introductory (Year 2) Beekeeping Workshop - Virtual Lecture

Register here:  https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5o8oPEwobnNtDq5

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 (Virtual Lecture)= April 10th, 2021

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

Part II (field Day) = April 17th  Kimmel Orchard 5995 G Road, Nebraska City, NE 68410  |  May 8th - Sioux City

Cost$70 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa kit.  $30 for each additional family member.

Queen Rearing Workshop - Virtual Lecture, 3 hands on locations

Register Here:  https://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5o8oPEwobnNtDq5

This course is meant for advanced beekeepers with 3+ years of experience. This is an introductory level course that focuses queen rearing, not queen breeding. Topics include: Managing hives for queen rearing, queen qualities for local needs, trait selection for varroa mite & disease resistance and the Doolittle method.

Part I (virtual lecture part 1)= TBD |Online

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

Part II (field Day) = TBD  Scottsbluff - limite 30 people, Kimmel Orchard -  limit 50 people

Cost: $110 per person.

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 herehttps://ssp.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5o8oPEwobnNtDq5

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: 402-472-8378

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

*Zoom links will be emailed out to registered participants.

 

 If you have any questions please call 402-472-8378.  The $80 per person, includes beekeeping handbook, lecture slides, equipment catalogs, Varroa monitoring kit. $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

Dr. Smart

Dr. Smart received her B.A. degrees in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Colorado in 2005. She went on to earn an M.S. in Entomology from Washington State University in 2010 and a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Minnesota in 2015. She is a research assistant professor in the department of Entomology at UNL.  Her appointment involves both research (80%) and teaching (20%).  She teaches Insect Ecology (for graduate students) and beekeeping.  Her research examines the impacts of land use and habitat on the health, productivity and survival of honey bees and other beneficial and pollinating insects. 

Email: asmart8@unl.edu

Here is a list of publications from the last 5 years (including those that are in review):

Otto CRV, Smart AH, Simanonok M, Bailey L. (in review) Wild bee patch occupancy and detection in a honey bee dominated landscape.

Smart AH, Otto CRV, Gallant A. (in review). Landscape characterization of floral resources for pollinators in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States. Biol. Conserv.

Otto C, Smart A, Cornman RS, Simanonok M, Iwanowicz DD. 2020. Forage and habitat for pollinators in the northern Great Plains – Implications for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs. U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report, 64 p. https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201037.

Iwanowicz D, Wu-Smart JY, Karacoban T, Smart AH, Otto CRV, Evans J, Cornman RS. 2020. An updated genetic marker for detection of Lake Sinai Virus and metagenomics applications to pollinator health.

Simanonok, MP, Otto, CRV, Smart, MD. 2020. Do the quality and quantity of honey bee-collected pollen vary across an agricultural land-use gradient? Environ. Entomol. doi:10.1093/ee/nvz139.

 Smart, MD, Otto, CRV, Lundgren, JG. 2019. Nutritional status of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) workers across an agricultural land-use gradient. Sci. Rep. 9: 16252.

DeGrandi-Hoffman, G, Graham, H, Ahumada, F, Smart, M, Ziolkowski, N. 2019. The economics of honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) management and overwintering strategies for colonies used to pollinate almonds. J. Econ. Entomol. 112(6): 2524-2533.

Evans, E, Smart, MD, Cariveau, D, Spivak, MS. 2018. Wild, native bees and managed honey bees benefit from similar agricultural land uses. Agric. Ecosys., Environ. 268: 162-170.

Smart, MD, Otto, CRV, Carlson, BL, Roth, CL. 2018b. The influence of spatiotemporally decoupled land use on honey bee colony health and pollination service delivery. Environ. Res. Lett. 13(8): 1-11.

Otto, CRV, Gallant, A, Hyberg, S, Iovanna, R, Smart, MD, Carlson, B, Zheng, H. 2018. Past role and future outlook of the Conservation Reserve Program for supporting honey bees in the Great Plains. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115(29): 7629-7634.

 Smart, MD, Cornman RS, Iwanowicz, DD, Otto, CRV. 2018a. Using colony monitoring devices to evaluate the impacts of land use and forage quality on honey bee health. Agriculture 8(1): 2.

Spivak, MS, Goblirsch, M, Lee, K, Wu-Smart, JY, Smart, MD, Otto, CRV, Browning, Z. 2017. Why does bee health matter? The science surrounding honey bee health concerns and what we can do about it.  Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Commentary QTA2017-1, June 2017.

 Otto, CRV, RB Bryant, NH Euliss Jr., S O’Dell, R Bush, MD Smart. 2017 Using publicly available data to quantify plant-pollinator interactions and evaluate conservation seeding mixes in the Northern Great Plains. Environ. Entomol. 46(3): 565-578.

 Smart, MD, Cornman, RS, Iwanowicz, DD, Pettis, JS, McDermott, M, Spivak, MS, Otto, CRV. 2017. A comparison of honey bee-collected pollen from working agricultural lands using light microscopy and ITS metabarcoding. Environ. Entomol. 46(1): 38-49.

Otto, CRV, Roth, CL, Carlson, BL, Smart, MD. 2016. Land-use change reduces habitat suitability for supporting managed honey bee colonies in the Northern Great Plains. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 113(37): 10430-10435.

 Tipping, PW, Martin, MR, Nimmo, KR, Smart, MD, Wear, EW. 2016. Food web associations among generalist predators and biological control agents of Melaleuca quinquinervia. Biol. Cont. 101: 52-58.

Smart, MD, Pettis, JS, Rice, ND, Browning, Z, and Spivak, MS. 2016. Linking measures of colony and individual honey bee health to survival among apiaries exposed to varying agricultural land use. PLoS ONE11(3): e0152685. 

 Smart, MD, Pettis, JS, Euliss, N, and MS. Spivak. 2016. Land use in the Northern Great Plains region of the U.S. influences the survival and productivity of honey bee colonies. Agric., Ecosys. Environ. 230: 139-149.

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

Graduate Students

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!

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:

  • My research is looking at how beekeeping management differs with alternative hive structures. Langstroth hives are not the only option for beekeepers, and I want to know how other structures compare with various functional measures, such as honey production, brood rearing, thermoregulation and overwintering. I believe it is important to provide scientifically vetting advice for the public and best management practices so beekeepers can be better informed, and the bees can live a healthier life.
  • The last two years, I have served as the UNL Bee Lab's Outreach Coordinator, managing presentation requests, media, extension & outreach opportunities and our education program.
  • Overall, 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. My passions overflow into hiking, pottery, ornithology, brewing mead and scuba diving.

Email: cbrummel3@unl.edu

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
  • Sheldon is full time staff and a graduate student studying Entomology
  • 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.

Emailsbrummel2@unl.edu

Rogan Tokach

Rogan Tokach

Hometown: Abilene, KS

Degree: B.S., 2020, Agronomy, Kansas State University. Minors in Entomology & Plant Pathology

Lab Focus: My research is focused on looking at how pesticides impact our honey bee colonies. With an agricultural background in agronomy, I understand the importance of these pesticides for farmers that help ensure their crops are productive. My goal is to work with farmers to apply non-harmful pesticides that do not impact colony health.

I have been a beekeeper for nine years after receiving a scholarship from the Kansas Honey Producer's Association. In the last two years, I have worked on a research project looking at habitat impact on colony health in the Northern Great Plains, and I worked for a commercial beekeeper with over 30,000 hives. In my free time, I like running, hiking, and I am into anything related to sports.

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.

 

Staff

Luke Norris inspecting hive

Luke Norris

Hometown: Columbus, NE

Degree: Current UNL student taking classes in Entomolgy

Lab Focus: I am a Research Technican for the UNL Bee Lab. I help take care of the bees and help maintain the beekeeping equipment. I assist in teaching beekeeping workshops and will be helping with the National Honey Bee Survey.  I also help with graduate students research projects.

In 2016 I took a Beginning Beekeeping class at Southeast Community College through the continuing education classes here in Lincoln. My first year I harvested close to 10 gallons of honey but then I lost my hive the following spring. I took a year off of beekeeping and then the next year I started taking beekeeping classes through UNL Bee lab to help me troubleshoot my problems with pests and pathogens as well as overwintering my hive. In my spare time I tend my own bee hives. I also enjoy kickboxing, playing music, foraging for edible mushrooms, cooking and gardening.

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

My masters research focused on the impact of habitat enhancements on private agricultural margins and public roadsides on wild bee communities by reviewing the current literature on bee decline and pollinator habitats, examining the effect of establishing conservation habitats in private pivot-irrigated crop fields and public roadsides, and synthesizing best management recommendations and currently available conservation programs for landowners and managers. Agricultural pivot corners planted to habitat had significantly higher bee abundance compared to all non-corner locations as well as significantly higher bee richness compared to all non-corner location in mid & late seasons. No statistically significant differences between Habitat Corners & Crop Corners but numeric differences found were considered ecologically significant. Conventional roadside seeding methods had lower abundance and richness for forbs & bees compared to wildflower only treatments. Roughly 50% of seeded forbs established during the first two years. Bee richness on the roadside plots was highest in the late season, while forb abundance and richness were highest in the mid-season. This research demonstrates that planting high diversity vegetation on underutilized and low-yielding farmland and roadsides can have positive impacts on wild bee pollinator communities and further provides recommendations on how to better manage these lands to promote and sustain wild bee communities.

Pesticides Impacts on Our Honey Bee Colonies

Rogan is working on two different research projects. His first project is focused on looking reusing deadouts and their impact on queen rearing capacity. Using smaller nucleus colonies, both control frames and frames contaminated with pesticide are used to rear replacement queens. These replacement queens are then observed to see if they are viable layers. 
The second research project Rogan is working on focuses on a behavioral study. This project is also using clean and contaminated frames. Cohorts of different ages of bees are used and placed in observation hives. These different cohorts of bees are observed for behavioral difference between age cohorts as well as sluggishness and inactivity.

Viral Transmission Among Pollinators in Enhanced Landscapes

Olgun T, Everhart SE, Anderson T, Wu-Smart J (2020) Comparative analysis of viruses in four bee species collected from agricultural, urban, and natural landscapes. PLOS ONE 15(6): e0234431. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234431

 Abstract

Managed honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) and wild bees provide critical ecological services that shape and sustain natural, agricultural, and urban landscapes. In recent years, declines in bee populations have highlighted the importance of the pollination services they provide and the need for more research into the reasons for global bee losses. Several stressors cause declining populations of managed and wild bee species such as habitat degradation, pesticide exposure, and pathogens. Viruses, which have been implicated as a key stressor, are able to infect a wide range of species and can be transmitted both intra- and inter-specifically from infected bee species to uninfected bee species via vertical (from parent to offspring) and/or horizontal (between individuals via direct or indirect contact) transmission. To explore how viruses spread both intra- and inter-specifically within a community, we examined the impact of management, landscape type, and bee species on the transmission of four common viruses in Nebraska: Deformed wing virus (DWV), Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), Black queen cell virus (BQCV), and Sacbrood virus (SBV). Results indicated the prevalence of viruses is significantly affected (P<0.005) by bee species, virus type, and season, but not by landscape or year (P = 0.290 and 0.065 respectively). The higher prevalence of DWV detected across bee species (10.4% on Apis mellifera, 5.3% on Bombus impatiens, 6.1% on Bombus griseocollis, and 22.44% on Halictus ligatus) and seasons (10.8% in earlymid summer and 11.4% in late summer) may indicate a higher risk of interspecific transmission of DWV. However, IAPV was predominately detected in Halictus ligatus (20.7%) and in late season collections (28.1%), which may suggest species-specific susceptibility and seasonal trends in infection rates associated with different virus types. However, there were limited detections of SBV and BQCV in bees collected during both sampling periods, indicating SBV and BQCV may be less prevalent among bee communities in this area.

Urban Landscapes for Urban Bees

Women Beekeepers/ Women Farmers

The decline in honey bee populations over the past two decades in the United States is alarming. The management provided by beekeepers to their honey bee colonies influences the survival of the colony. However, there is a lack of information on the experiences of beekeepers, specifically women beekeepers. The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) in Nebraska hosted the “Honey Bees on the Farm: Connecting Women Beekeepers and Women Farmers for Environmental and Economic Benefit” program that provided informal, educational events to women beekeepers and landowners. Using a convergent mixed methods design, the first research question examines the impacts of the Women in Beekeeping program on participant’s knowledge, self-efficacy, management, and colony health. Nine beekeepers from the Women in Beekeeping program participated in a series of surveys, interviews, and video-recorded hive inspections to measure the program’s impacts. Participant knowledge and management did not significantly increase after participating in the program. Participant self-efficacy improved after participating in the program. Colony health significantly improved from May to July while participants were involved in the program. Compared to beekeepers not in the program, those who were in the program were more knowledgeable about general pollination knowledge and had different views regarding colony health. Both populations were similar in terms of self-efficacy and management.  

              The second research question examines the experiences of twelve women beekeepers. I used a transcendental phenomenological approach to focus on the lived experiences of the women beekeepers. Women reported generally positive experiences with the local beekeeping community, and connected their beekeeping experiences to their experiences with motherhood and family. Additionally, beekeeper’s values played a role in how they managed their hives and their experiences beekeeping. Overall, beekeeper educational programming should continue to provide hands-on informal programs, but more research is needed to fully understand the impacts of these programs.  

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

Sustainable Landscape Enhancements Update:

In the last decade, there have been reports of pollinator decline, including the abundance of wild bees declining by 23%, commercially-managed honey bee colony losses averaging 40% annually, and 15% reduction in the population of monarch butterflies across the midwestern US. Major factors responsible for pollinator health decline include diminishing habitat and exposure to agrochemicals (as reviewed in Chapter 1). To mitigate further losses, recommendations promote pollinator habitats in agricultural, urban, and natural landscapes, however, improperly placed plantings, may unintentionally expose pollinators to agrochemicals. This dissertation examines five landscape enhancement treatments ((A) no enhancement control, (B) irrigated, (C) adjacent pollinator-friendly cover crops, (D) adjacent trees that act as pesticide drift barriers in between habitat and crop field, and (E) with drift barriers and adjacent cover crops) distributed on 17 newly established pollinator habitats and the role they play on mitigating pesticide contamination. In Chapter 2, sticky traps were used to capture neonicotinoid-laden field dust drifting off crop fields during corn planting and residues were compared across treatments to assess the role enhancements play in mitigating pesticide contamination from crop fields and into pollinator habitats. In Chapter 3, a modified method for quantifying air-borne pesticide residues from conventional seed coat treatments was described to better assess exposure risk to foraging pollinators during maize planting. Lastly, in Chapter 4, the abundance and diversity of forbs, insect pollinators, and bees in pollinator habitats were assessed using transect surveys to evaluate the effect enhancement treatments have on promoting plant-pollinator communities. The overall findings in this dissertation indicate that landscape enhancements, such as pollinator habitats adjacent drift barriers, were effective in reducing off-target pesticide contamination. Further, results strongly support that the addition of diverse plants in high crop production areas will attract pollinators into previously devoid areas.  However, it also highlights the need for well-designed placement of pollinator habitats in agricultural landscapes that protect these critical resources from unintended pesticide exposure.

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

Conservation Efforts

Get involved in a statewide community science project aimed at tracking & concerving Nebraska's native bumble bees.  Our very own graduate student, Katie Lamke, runs this program: https://www.nebraskabumblebeeatlas.org/

We help care for a bumble bee observation hive at Schramm Education Center.  Check out all the fun things to do at:  http://outdoornebraska.gov/schrammeducationcenter/

We provide honey bees for the big observation hive at Morrill Hall in the science exploration zone.  To maintain it, we have to carry the observation hive out on the roof where we trade frames of bees and food resources with a mother colony so the observation hive doesn't get to big and swarm.  Check out all the fun things to do at Morrill Hall:  https://museum.unl.edu/

We provide a small honey bee colony to the Lincoln Childrens Zoo.  Explore all the Lincoln Children's Zoo has to offer at: https://www.lincolnzoo.org/

We partner with the Xerces Society for Inrtebrate Conservation to sample for native bee species in Nebraska.  For more information on how you can get involved, visit:  https://www.xerces.org/

We partner with Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha to sample for native bees that visit their beautiful botanical gardens.  This helps them make informed decisions on how to plan their gardens for the next season to make their flowers more attractive to our bee friends.  For more information on Lauritzen Gardens, please visit:  https://www.lauritzengardens.org/

Judy & Dustin sit on the board for the Nebraska Beekeepers Association.  Through their efforts along with the rest of the board of directors, we are able to get information out to beekeepers across the state through newsletters and monthly webinars.  The NBA also has a scholarship program that provides bees and equipment to kids ages 13-17 and pairs them with a mentor for their 1st year.  Interested?  Get involved today at:  https://nebraskabeekeepers.org/

You don't have to keep bees to help bees!  You can plant bee friendly flowers, flowering pastures or bee lawns.  Below is a list of resources to get started today.

Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund

https://www.beeandbutterflyfund.org/

https://www.beeandbutterflyfund.org/give-the-gift-of-habitat.html

Nebraska Pheasants Forever

https://nebraskapf.com/habitat/

Stock Seed Farms

https://www.stockseed.com/

Miller Seed Co.

http://www.millerseed.com/

UMN Bee Lawn Research

https://www.beelab.umn.edu/learn-more/beelawn

UNL Pollinator Habitat Certification

https://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

Nebraska Pheasants Forever Corners for Wildlife program

http://nebraskapf.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Fact-Sheet-CFW.pdf

Prairie Plains Resource Institute

https://www.prairieplains.org/

Nebraska Game & Parks Natural Legacy Project

https://outdoornebraska.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NebraskaNaturalLegacyProject2ndEdition.pdf

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.

https://www.cast-science.org/publication/why-does-bee-health-matter-the-science-surrounding-honey-bee-health-concerns-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/(CAST commentary June 2017) video

GREAT PLAINS MASTER BEEKEEPERS VIRTUAL BEE FUNDAY 2021

February 13th

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION About Great Plains Master Beekeepers Program (GPMB) In response to high demands for beekeeping courses in our region, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Bee Team began the “The Great Plains Regional Master Beekeeping Training Program” to provide a structural framework that standardizes beekeeping management training, address misinformation, and allow researchers and beekeepers to respond to emerging honey bee health issues specific to the mid-west. The GPMB governing committee consists of partners from multiple beekeeping associations, professional organizations, and research/extension institutions across six states. Our activities are designed to 1) improve profitability through adoption of success-proven colony management skills and integrated pest management, 2) increase training opportunities by amending existing and outdated educational materials and making them assessable to instructors, and 3) provide targeted training opportunities to socially-disadvantaged and or under-served communities, including women, military veterans, Latinos, and Tribal groups. We launched the Great Plains Master Beekeeping (GPMB) program in April 2019 and currently have 400+ beekeepers from NE, CO, IA, KS, MO, and WY registered. For more about GPMB visit (GPMB Website) or about UNL Bee Team visit (UNL Bee Lab).

Virtual fun day goals: The main goal of GPMB is to create a broader beekeeping community that fosters learning and field training for beekeepers of all levels and interests. Many of the beekeeping fun day events have been cancelled due to the covid-19 virus pandemic. We are providing this virtual fun day to better engage with our beekeepers while we all slowly adapt to a new covid world. The bees are here and beekeepers still need help managing hives. With covid concerns and restrictions, this may be a prime time for beekeepers to spend more time with their bees, learn new management skills, expand their knowledge and operation, and or create new value-added products. This is a free event however donations are greatly appreciated and funds to partner associations and GPMB go toward beekeeping management education and advocacy efforts.

GPMB Facebook event and registration:

Watch for more at: Great Plains Master Beekeeping Facebook Page

Presentation types

We will offer a variety of presentations and demonstrations. Below are some of these types.

Lecture presentations:

  • Research/informative- Lectures provided by experts from universities, agencies, and organizations focused on bee health, pest/pathogens/pesticides and other stressors, breeding efforts, and honey bee research developments.
  • Management- Lectures provided by an array of researchers, educators, extension professionals, and experienced beekeepers to increase management skills and improve knowledge regarding beekeeping management options, such as integrated pest management for Varroa mites, pesticide exposure monitoring, and dietary supplemental options to boost hive nutritional and immunity.
  • Value-added/products- Lectures provided by experienced beekeepers to introduce a variety of value-added products (soaps, lotions, candles, alternative uses for bee wax, pollen, honey, etc..). Lectures will provide introductory information about how to get started, equipment needed, and or marketing considerations.
  • Professional development- Lectures provided by experienced beekeepers and professionals to promote professional development among beekeepers interested in expanded their operations, as well as provide resources on marketing products and financial support aids.

Demonstration types:

  •  

 

Costs: This is technically a GPMB fundraiser event, however, we want to be considerate of those impacted by covid. Therefore, we will NOT have registration fees but rather donation options:

1)      Donate to your beekeeping association (only)

2)      Donate to GPMB (only) (Note: this option is for those not associated with a group)

3)      Or donate to both (50% equal shares)

*Suggested donation amount of $10 person. 

 

 

hap-bee hour logo

Who: Judy Wu-Smart and Randall Cass
What: Bring your beekeeping questions and your favorite brew to chat with Extension Entomologists Randall Cass (Iowa State University Pollinator Working Group) and Judy Wu-Smart (University of Nebraska – Lincoln Bee Lab).
When: Weekly during the bee season, 1st Friday of the month in the winter, from 5-6 pm CST 
**Zoom link & password on the Facebook event**
Listen to past recordings:

Entomology News at Nebraska

Breaking Entomological News...

  • Dr. Susan WellerDr. Susan Weller, director of the University of Nebraska State Museum and professor of Entomology, has been elected a fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The society noted Weller’s internationally-known research on arctiine moths and other Noctuoidea, and her administrative leadership in promoting entomology and science education. See the article at UNL News for more about Weller's recognition. Congratulations Susan!
  • Marilyn Weidner & GracieWe are pleased to announce that Marilyn Weidner has been named winner of the IANR Exemplary Service Award! Weidner has roles in administrative support, personnel management, data documentation and archiving, review preparation, promotion and evaluation tracking, payroll for 15 departments, and much more. Well deserved Marilyn!
  • Rogan Tokach winning scholarshipCongratulations to Rogan Tokach (Master's student co-mentored by Dr. Autumn Smart and Dr. Judy Wu-Smart) on being awarded a $10,000 national Christi Heintz Memorial Scholarship by Project Apis m!
    Well done, Rogan!
  • Steve Spomer with Beetle CollectionsSpomer nets 40-year Butterfly & Beetle Legacy. Best wishes to Steve Spomer who is retiring this December after 40 years in the Entomology Department. Spomer has identified nearly 700 insect species, including the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle, and taught countless University of Nebraska-Lincoln students. 
  • Bridget Gross with Bees.Bridget Gross, master's student in Entomology, mentored by Dr. Judy Wu-Smart and Dr. Doug Golick, was featured in the Nov. 11th IANR Student Spotlight. Bridget presented her master's degree seminar last month and graduates in December.

  • Check out the Emerald Ash Borer Resource Center, and our Emerald Ash Borer Look-Alike Insects Sheet - Be Sure Before You Treat!