July 2024

Our Recent Queen Rearing Workshop was ‘the Bees Knees’!

The WSU Bee Program held a queen rearing workshop in Othello on June 29th, 2024. This facility is located amongst pollinator-dependent agriculture in central Washington State.

Many people’s faces were full of smiles and curiosity the entire day. Attendees learned steps to rear honey bee queens through a seminar and several field demonstrations. They were able to practice grafting young larvae into grafting cups (following the Doolittle method), and those grafted larvae were placed into our WSU Bee Program cell builders. Attendees will be updated on the development of their grafted cells and will be able to take any successful queens home!

We also did break out sessions to give people the opportunity to learn about graft-free queen rearing methods, how to incubate and introduce queens, and practice handling and marking “queen” bees by using male bees that do not sting. As a lovely addition, they learned about the WSU Bee Program’s research on Metarhizium fungi as a biological control option for a major honey bee pest, Varroa mites! A special thank you to our keynote speaker, John Jacob, a commercial honey bee queen breeder (Old Sol Apiaries), and our Othello apiary manager, Ben, for spending several weeks prepping material for the big day.

queen rearing workshop attendees practicing grafting larvae from honey bee frames
beekeeper giving in hive demonstration
group of beekeepers at queen rearing workshop

WSU Bee Program Had a Great Time at the 2024 Pollinator Knowledge & Fun Fest!

WSU Bee Program had an awesome time seeing lots of pollinator enthusiasts at the annual pollinator fun fest this year. We appreciate all who stopped by to say hello, taste our bee program honey, look at the Varroa under our microscope, and listen about our research on Metarhizium as a biological control option for Varroa!

people sitting at WSU bee program booth
picture of microscope with varroa mites on stage
Kid looking into microscope

New Pages on our Bee Program Website!

Our WSU Honey Bees + Pollinators Program website has been evolving over the last few months! Our Extension and Outreach (linked) page now connects beekeepers to beekeeper resources, the WASBA Master Beekeeper Program, information about regional beekeeping associations in Washington, and more! The page also highlights pollinator related WSU Extension Fact Sheets and educational videos the WSU Bee Program has made.

Here are some short links to helpful pages:

  • Beekeeper Resources. Compiled resources about surveys or programs for WA beekeepers.
  • Diagnostic Aid. Includes information about Nosema and tracheal mites from the workshop we did in May, including the step-by-step training video linked above. Also provides information about submitting samples to Beltsville Bee Lab since WSU Bee Program does not have a diagnostic lab currently.
  • Bee-yond Honey Bees. Offers some educational resources on non-honey bee pollinators.
  • Request a Speaker. Gives people the option to directly request a speaker for a club meeting or event.

A Round of Applause for Dr. Zhang!

Dr. Ge Zhang recently won the Journal of Economic Entomology – Editor’s Choice award for his manuscript published in the Journal of Economic Entomology! Read the article titled: “Can Native Plants Mitigate Climate-related Forage Dearth for Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)?

WSU Bee Program Developments

Dr. Walter Sheppard
Dr. Steve Sheppard Retires and Becomes Emeritus Professor at WSU Bee Program

Dr. Steve Sheppard has been at WSU since 1996 and recently retired (June 2024). Previously, he was the P. F. Thurber Endowed Professor of Apiculture in the Department of Entomology and served as the chair for a number of years. Dr. Sheppard specializes in honey bee genetics and evolution, honey bee breeding, colony health research, honey bee gene diversity, and honey bee germplasm acquisition. He will continue working with the WSU Bee Program has a Professor Emeritus.
Dr. Brandon Hopkins
Dr. Brandon Hopkins: Promoted to P. F. Thurber Endowed Professor of Pollinator Ecology

The Pomeroy F. Thurber endowment supports innovative research in apiculture. Dr. Sheppard previously held this position, and with his retirement, Dr. Hopkins has been awarded this endowment. Dr. Hopkin’s work supports excellence in beekeeping and honey bee ecology. The legacy of the endowment will continue!
Dr. Ge Zhang
Dr. Ge Zhang: Promoted to Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Zhang has been a post-doctoral researcher with the WSU Bee Program for a couple years working on how pesticides impact migratory honey bee colonies’ health. As the new Research Assistant Professor, he will now be focusing on fine-tuning Metarhizium as a biological control option for Varroa and the potential for using enzymes to neutralize pesticide toxicity to honey bees.

Congratulations and Farewell!

Dr. Saumik Basu is moving on from our WSU Honey Bees + Pollinators program. He accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position as a Vegetable IPM Entomologist in the University of Georgia Department of Entomology and will be starting there this summer. Pooja Malhotra, the Basu lab manager is also moving on! Dr. Basu and Pooja led research about entomopathogenic Metarhizium as a Varroa control option; this research work will be continued by Dr. Ge Zhang. These two will be missed – congratulations!

WSU Bee Program is Helping Improve Master Gardener Program Curriculum

Our extension coordinator, Bri Price, is working on a seminar to go along with the new pollinator chapter written by Dr. Tim Lawrence. To complement this chapter, Bri and Thyra McKelvie, with Rent Mason Bees, collaborated to create a video about how to properly care for mason bee nests. The video summarizes how to properly care for mason bees throughout the four seasons. It highlights the importance of correct nesting material, protecting the filled nest blocks from predators in early summer, as well as harvesting cocoons and cleaning nest blocks in the fall!

It’s being edited now and will be available on our website via this page in the future!

Thyra McKelvie (left) and Bri Price (right) at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center Demonstration Garden.
Pictured: Thyra McKelvie (left) and Bri Price (right) at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center Demonstration Garden.

We made an Instagram Account, Follow us! @WSUBEEPROGRAM

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Looking for more updates on beekeeper happenings in Washington? Check out the Washington State Beekeepers Association newsletters!

Author: Bri Price, Honey Bee Program Extension Coordinator

Categories: Blog