Scientific Research

Determining the causes of declining bee populations and finding solutions to enhance colony health.
Pollen is the primary source of protein for honey bees, making pollen abundance and diversity critical for colony growth and survival. Because 90% of commercial beekeepers in the United States move their bees for pollination services, keeping tabs on agriculture is paramount for beekeepers and bee biologists alike. Systemic insecticides are recognized as a key factor in pollinator decline.

Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab

The Honey Bee Research and Extension program at Oregon State University conducts applied research on honey bee health and nutrition and provides commercial and hobbyist beekeepers with best management practices and diagnostic services.

Current research includes:

  • Evaluating various stressors on honey bees during crop pollination
  • Examining the long-term, sub-lethal effects of pesticide exposure on honey bee colony health and immunity
  • Determining the nutritional composition of pollens from various crops, native plants, and ornamentals and creating a database for bee nutrition
  • Investigating the efficacy of various miticide treatments and potential Varroa mite resistance
In the last five years, OSU’s research results have saved Oregon’s commercial beekeepers approximately $5 million annually by providing the following management advice:
  • Treating for Varroa mites based on sampling results rather than calendar-based treatments
  • Supplementing bee diets to mitigate poor nutrition during pollination of “risky crops” (like carrot seed and blueberries)
  • Protecting bees from pesticides by designing a smartphone app that gives farmers real time advice on chemicals to avoid when bees are in the fields
  • Providing colony health results by processing bee samples from commercial beekeepers in a timely manner