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Help save the bees!

A blog following the beekeepers at the University of Washington.

Friday, July 20, 2012


We are a science-based beekeeping course aiming to improve the plight of bees while training a new generation of beekeepers. The course is sponsored by the Biology Department of the University of Washington, Seattle and the UW Farm*. Our current projects are listed below. As you can see, we are investigating a diversity of bee topics.

We have a shoestring budget, which limits what we can do, but you can help us by donating through our funding tool:


1. Biology and Processing of Bees Wax
Learn in detail about how bees secrete wax, its functions in the hive, chemical properties and industrial uses, and problems, especially pesticide contamination. Build a solar wax melter and render our collection of recyclable combs. Process the wax in an experiment to remove pesticide residues. Make candles.

2. Mite Monitoring & Management Testing
Learn in detail the biology of the Varroa mite and its management. You will consistently monitor mite populations in hives under various treatment regimes to assess their relative performance. Data will contribute to the series begun in 2011.

3. Hygienic Behavior Assessment
Use a standard freeze-kill method to create a uniform "unhygienic" patch in the brood of colonies of several different strains. Assess the ability of the bees to detect dead brood and remove it. This is a behavioral trait correlated with the ability to clean the hive of disease spores and possibly other problems. This test was developed by professional researchers for breeding more "hygienic" bee strains.

4. Dance Behavior and Forager Mapping
Record foraging dances within the hive and translate into a detailed map of foraging range centered on the Farm apiary. Then, to verify the data, go to one of the indicated sites, set up feeding stations, mark bees that arrive, and try to recover the marks in one of the home hives.

*The UW Farm is a group of University students, faculty, and associates that run an on-campus, food-growing, urban organic farm. The Farm is now growing food for the campus food services! Check out the Farm link and come visit!

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