PollenCheck: A honey bee forage pilot study
Honey bees are essential pollinators, and because of this, managed honey bee colonies play an essential role in our society. Honey bees are the most important contributor to pollination services for most crop monocultures worldwide; however, honey bees are in peril. By 2008, for example, the number of honey-producing colonies had fallen to just about one-third their levels in 1947. Honey bee colonies fail for a wide range of reasons, but it is, well documented that the fundamental reason honey bee colonies fail is likely to be found in the complex interrelation between pests and diseases, pesticides, loss of forage, and unsustainable beekeeping practices. Nutrition seems to play a central role in colony health, productivity, and resilience against pests and diseases. The quality of nutrition bees bring back to the nest is a direct result of the availability, timing, quantity and quality of nectar and pollen in the bees’ foraging environment.
PollenCheck is an innovative iOS app designed to help scientists quantify the diversity and of amount of pollen available to honey bees. While we eventually hope to roll out the study nationwide, during 2017 we are conducting a small pilot study within our home state of Michigan. The study will involve 25 “citizen scientist” beekeepers strategically situated around the state. These participants will be provided with two pollen traps, and the necessary laboratory equipment to process the samples they capture. Please review the research protocol described below as well as the videos describing the procedures.
If you are a beekeeper in Michigan with at least two healthy colonies, please consider applying for our program. Review the program details below and if you are interested in participating fill out our application form by clicking the “Apply Here” button below. While there is no application fee, there is a $50 participation fee that applicants will pay once accepted into the program.