Almost Famous, Bees!

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My bees are gonna be FAMOUS! Well…as famous as they can be, I suppose. Michigan State University (MSU) is conducting an Urban Pesticide Study‏, and I have volunteered one of my hives to partake in the research.

The study is taking place from July 2014 to June 2015 to determine when colonies are not near major agricultural settings, the type and amount of pesticides that are transported back by foraging bees at urban and suburban settings. Since honey bees can bring nectar and pollen back to the hive, and both nectar and pollen could be contaminated with pesticides, Zachary Huang, Ph.D. (Director, MSU Entomology Honey Bee Research Program) is going to collect samples of nectar and pollen from my hive each month through next June (with exception of the winter months). The pesticides in urban areas like mine could be a result of home garden pesticide use, and maintenance of parks and lawns. There are several other hives that are participating in the study as well, some in the detroit area and some in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Farmington, Troy, and Lansing.

I’m totally geeked to be a part of the project! Another step towards helping the bees!

It was great to meet Zachary Huang. I had seen him talk at the SEMBA conference this past March, at Schoolcraft Community College, where I first learned about the project. He came to my house around 5:45pm and took a look at my apple tree in the front yard, seemingly impressed by how fruitful the little thing was, and then proceeded to tell me that I should wrap it up to protect it. We went straight back to my hives where I gave him the run-down of the history of my hives this year, and the funny thing is remember the little nuc hive I started after my pink hive swarmed – the one I had kept in a cardboard nuc box temporarily while I continued in over-drive to build hive equipment for my bee explosion – well, that nuc hive became quite the tall beehive all through June/July, and I had to transfer the nuc into a regular 2-story hive body because it was getting too tall, AND I had to move that hive since it had outgrown it’s location by my garage (and that’s a-whole-nother story for another post sometime, whew!) – well, it was that particular hive that Zachary chose for his study. He liked that it had the most foragers.

Zachary installed a pollen trap in the entrance of the hive that has tiny holes to allow the honey bees to come in and out but knocks the pollen off of their legs as they come in to the hive. A sample of the pollen will be collected and taken back to MSU for the study as well as a teaspoon of honey that from a designated frame inside the hive.

Here’s a BEFORE and AFTER video of the activity of the foragers coming to and from the hive:

They’ll learn how to walk through it eventually, but at two hours later many of them have collected on the underneath of the hive. My poor, poor confused little bees. Oh the things I have put you through this past week.  From transferring their nuc to the regular hive body they are in now, to dropping a frame on the ground in the process and making them really mad, to moving their home across my yard and thoroughly confusing some straggler foragers who keep returning to the old location, to now installing a labyrinth in which they are forced to go in and out to forage. All for the love of bees!