By: Karen Rennich and the BIP Tech Team
The best beekeepers keep the best bees. Declining honey bee health does not always have a single cause or a single solution, but putting the best tools, techniques, and technologies in the hands of the people on the front lines – the beekeepers – makes a huge impact.
The Bee Informed Partnership has been working alongside beekeepers on the front lines for over five years. You may know us for our annual Winter Loss report or National Management survey, but the greatest asset of the Bee Informed Partnership is undeniably our Technical Transfer Teams.
Our teams of highly trained honey bee experts work closely with commercial beekeepers in the field to share best practices, monitor and sample colonies over time, and provide near real-time diagnostic data. This data helps beekeepers make informed decisions about treating hives for diseases and prevents unnecessary losses. All told, commercial beekeepers working with us lose 35.6% fewer colonies annually than their counterparts who are not serviced by our teams. For the typical 2,000 colony operation this means that our beekeepers, on average, save almost 300 colonies per year – a savings conservatively estimated at $74,000.
Healthier colonies in orchards and on farms mean that less disease is spread to neighboring colonies. We think this is a win-win for everyone. From backyard beekeepers to large-scale commercial operations, the Bee Informed Partnership offers several ways for beekeepers to participate and gain value from our research. But we can’t do it alone.
We began over five years ago with a USDA/NIFA grant to monitor colony loss, management practices, and to start a single Technical Transfer Team in northern California. The grant has ended but the work continues. Now an established 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization, the Bee Informed Partnership has expanded to include five Technical Transfer Teams based in California, Oregon, Texas, Florida, and Minnesota and our outreach efforts and management results can be found on our highly utilized website. We want to keep growing and we see a great need for our services. Our teams are making a difference across the country every day, and we need your help to support their efforts and expand our reach.
The success of the program has created demands beyond the scope of our existing funds. To scale our impact, we’re launching a crowd funding campaign to raise 50K, a small portion of the funds we need. You are uniquely positioned to support our cause. As a beekeeper or general honey bee enthusiast, you can help expand the Technical Transfer Team program and ultimately improve honey bee health to safeguard the food supply.
Visit http://beeinformed.org to learn more about our work and get involved.