A Close Eye on Honey Bees

The college will lead a nationwide network to monitor and maintain honey bee health as part of the Bee Informed Partnership, a five-year, $5 million program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture with partners throughout the country.


“We would like to reduce honey bee mortality, increase beekeeper profitability, and enhance adoption of sustainable management systems in beekeeping,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Penn State senior extension associate in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture who will lead the project. “At the same time we want to increase the reliability of production in pollinator-dependent crops and increase the profitability of pollinator-dependent producers.”

The project will conduct surveys of colony mortality, pathogens, and parasites, as well as beekeeping management strategies, costs, and outputs. They will also create a reporting system for pollinator quality and availability and an emerging-issues alert system.

The multistate team hopes that their work—especially their educational efforts to introduce best management practices—will reduce national losses in honey bee populations by 50 percent in the next five years, according to vanEngelsdorp.

Co-investigators on the project are the University of California Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Appalachian State University, Lincoln University, USDA-ARS, and the Florida Department of Agriculture. Other collaborators include NASA and USDA Animal and Plant Health Service.