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About Us


The Bee Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) 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 University of Nebraska-Lincoln (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 https://www.facebook.com/unlbeelab/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! Phone: 402-472-8378, Email: 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.

students in bee suits

Beekeeping Workshops: 2022

Level 1 Beekeeping Workshop (Lincoln)

Register Here

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 (Lecture) = March 5th, 2022, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Room 202. Entomology Hall 1700 E Campus Mall, Lincoln NE

Part II (field Day) =  April 10th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Pollinator Garden on East Campus, UNL Apiary, GPS: 40.828970, -96.655257

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

Level 1 Beekeeping Workshop (North Platte)

Register Here

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 (Lecture) = April 3rd, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., North Platte - (WCREC Snyder Addition Classroom) West Central Campus, 402 W State Farm Rd., North Platte, NE

Part II (field Day) =  April 24th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., North Platte - West Central Research & Extension Center - GPS: 41.08861, -100.770833

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

Intermediate Beekeeping Workshop (Scottsbluff)

Register Here

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 (Lecture) = April 30th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Scottsbluff - (Bluestem room) at University of Nebraska Panhandle Research & Extension Center, 4502 Avenue I, Scottsbluff, NE

Part II (field Day) =  May 1st, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Scottsbluff - University of Nebraska Panhandle Research & Extension Center, GPS: 41.893257, -103.681861

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

Level 2 Beekeeping Workshop - Kimmel Orchard

Register Here

Troubleshooting Hive Problems: 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) = March 26th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Kimmel Orchard, 5995 G Road, Nebraska City, NE

Part II (field Day) = April 9th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Kimmel Orchard, 5995 G Road, Nebraska City, NE

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

Grand Island Bee Field Fun Day

Register Here

Stand-alone field course as well as testing for Journeyman and Master Beekeepers.

Date, Time, Location:

(field Day) =  Rescheduled for Summer, Grand Island (Raising Nebraska Building) 501 East Fonner Park Road. Suite 100. Grand Island, NE 68802.

Cost$30 per person, the cost of testing for Journeyman and Master Beekeeping is an additional cost

GPMB 2022 Virtual Fun Day

More info to come!

Other advanced workshops offered every third year:

Queen Rearing - Early summer 2024

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.

Advanced Pest & Pathogen Diagnostics Beekeeping Workshop - Early summer 2024

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 Here

Make checks payable to: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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 $70 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


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

Ph.D. Students

None at this time.

Master's of Science Students

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

Courtney Brummel

Hometown: Gretna, NE
Degree: 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, native plant landscaping, ornithology, brewing kombucha, 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.


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.

Email: rtokach2@huskers.unl.edu

Tia Busenitz

Katya (Tia) Busenitz
Hometown: Asheville, NC
Degree: Pre-medical Biology, WCU
Lab Focus: Honey bee physiology
Email: tbusenitz2@huskers.unl.edu

Undergraduate Student Technicians

Shelby Kittle

Shelby Kittle

Hometown: Ord, Nebraska

Major: 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

Major: 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.

Grace Carter

Grace Carter
Hometown: Spring, TX
Major: Current UNL student majoring in Child, Youth and Family Studies
Lab Focus: I want to go to nursing school following graduation, but have always had a love for bees which is why I joined the Bee Lab!

Mariah Robinson

Mariah Robinson

Hometown: Grand Island, NE

Major: Current UNL student majoring in Psychology

Lab Focus:

  • Undergraduate technician. I assist the graduate students and full-time technicians with any and everything they need. I get a micro view of the beekeeping process and am learning new things all the time.
  • I did not have any background in beekeeping, but I have always found bees fascinating. I applied for this job to have a better understanding of honeybees and possibly pick up a new hobby. I hope to own my own bees in the upcoming years, and I want to use this experience to have fascinating stories to tell others.


Luke Norris inspecting hive

Luke Norris

Hometown: Columbus, NE

Major: Current UNL student majoring in Insect Science

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.



Courtney Wallner

Courtney Wallner

Hometown: Lake in the Hills, Illinois
Major: Majored in Insect Science and Pre-Veterinary Medicine
Years: 2017-2021

Courtney is currently attending veterinary school and hopes to further incorporate honey bee/arthropod medicine into veterinary medicine. She has a specific interest in conservation and habitat restoration, for both vertebrates and invertebrates.

Edith Ikuze

Edith Ikuze
Hometown: Kigali, Rwanda
Major: Current UNL student majoring in Integrated Science major with minors in Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Insect Science
Lab Focus:

  • I joined the bee lab as an undergraduate technician in January 2021. I love bees, and I want to learn more about them.
  • I want to become a pest control Entomologist. I'm most interested in controlling pests while conserving untargeted, essential insects like bees.

Alejandra Sierra Torres

Alejandra Sierra Torres
Hometown: Santiago Bayacora Durango DGO, Mexico
Major: Current UNL student majoring in Agronomy- Crop Production
Lab Focus:

  • I am currently working as an undergraduate technician for the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Bee Lab.
  • In the future, I plan to continue my education and obtain a master's degree in Entomology.

Helen smiling in her beekeeper suit and veil
Helen Little
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Major: 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.


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


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

Undergraduate Research - REEU and UCARE

REEU: Beneficial Insects Protection Research and Extension Experiences (FACT)

Students will engage in research and extension opportunities focused on beneficial arthropods in agroecosystems (bees, butterflies, beetles), pest control (natural enemies), nutrient cycling (dung beetles, soil dwellers), and biological indicators (aquatic insects) of the quality of our environmental surroundings.

The goal of our REU program is: (1) teach and nurture interest in science (2) to teach the students how to communicate science to scientists and the public through training and hands-on experiences, (3) foster skills in students for developing extension education materials including innovative uses of online apps, social media, and other technological tools to reach broad audiences, and (4) to significantly impact the career decisions of these students by providing academic research experiences and field trips to businesses and organization engaged in research and extension around beneficial insects.

For more information visit the REEU website: https://www.unl.edu/summerprogram/insects

Previous student projects: 


Hayley Limes: Unforb-gettable, though near or farm: Bee flower preference in the northern Great Plains

This research determined bee flowering plant preferences in order to optimize conservation planting efforts

Contact: hlimes@email.arizona.edu

Research Video: https://youtu.be/6bMhK2toYUs

Ihlara Gray: Plant-Insect Interactions at Pollinator Habitats in Mead, NE

The goal of this project was to provide a baseline understanding of plant-insect interactions at pollinator habitats in Mead, Nebraska.

Contact: ihlaragray@gmail.com

Research Vidoe: https://youtu.be/gbJ9bSCGnMM


Undergraduate research at UNL includes the arts, education, engineering, humanities, and the traditional sciences like chemistry, biology, and physics. Research projects range from studying switchgrass plants grown for biofuel to identifying and cataloging the poems of Walt Whitman, from exploring the effects of background noise on productivity to creating textiles made of corn. The UCARE program is supported by generous gifts from the Pepsi Quasi Endowment and Union Bank & Trust.

UCARE supports UNL undergraduates to work one-on-one with faculty research advisors in research or creative activities. The UCARE program solicits applications from eligible undergraduates for either academic year or summer awards. Awards are competitively reviewed and funded each year and are not automatically renewed.

For more information visit the UCARE website: https://ucare.unl.edu/

Previous student projects:

No information available. Please check back at another time!

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 Children's 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



Nebraska Pheasants Forever


Stock Seed Farms


Miller Seed Co.


UMN Bee Lawn Research


UNL Pollinator Habitat Certification


Nebraska Pheasants Forever Corners for Wildlife program


Prairie Plains Resource Institute


Nebraska Game & Parks Natural Legacy Project


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


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: