Melittologist and Research Associate, Bayer Bee Care Center
Growing up with seven brothers and sisters, Kim Huntzinger knows a thing or two about dealing with complexity. Little did she know that her frenetic family dynamic would be the perfect prerequisite for her work with Bayer. In fact, Kim was tracked down for this article prior to boarding a red-eye flight in order to arrive in time to attend a morning meeting at the Bayer Bee Care Center. Talk about a busy bee!
While attending Brigham Young University in pursuit of a master’s degree in zoology, Kim’s research took her to southeastern Alaska, where she conducted field surveys, reviewed historical journals and examined museum specimens to track the area’s aquatic insect diversity. After graduation, Kim began her professional career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, where her focus changed from aquatic insects to native bees.
Her Beginning with Bees
“My work at the USDA bee lab involved field collections, taxonomic descriptions and surveys of bees, especially those belonging to the genera Dianthidium
the one most dear to my heart, but most people would just call them desert bees,” said Kim.
One of Kim’s tasks while at the USDA was serving as an online identification guide developer for Discover Life, an educational website dedicated to scientific learning. She notes, “I worked as a self-proclaimed ‘eTaxonomist’ for eight years, and it was one of my favorite jobs at the USDA bee lab.”
How Bees Led to Bayer
Kim’s journey to Bayer is a complex one. In 2013, she agreed to monitor bee colonies in northern Utah as part of Bayer’s Sentinel Hive program. Though it was meant to be a short contract, it was extended through the fall, which would interfere with her USDA duties, until the two-week U.S. government shutdown occurred. This led to Kim joining Bayer and her eventual relocation to Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, in March 2014 – just two months before the official opening of the Bee Care Center.
Today, Kim’s work is a blur of ever-changing activities. On any given day, she may be coordinating projects in the bee lab, evaluating varroacide efficacy studies, enhancing the center’s pollinator garden, conducting bee health educational tours and outreach, working with interns or assisting with regulatory studies to measure a product’s potential effect on non-Apis bee species.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn new things,” she said. “But even more important for me is to see firsthand how much everyone here at Bayer is dedicated to improving our world. It’s not just a job – they really take it to heart.”
Keeping Things Interesting Outside of Work
When she’s not working, Kim enjoys backpacking, especially in Utah’s red rock country. Before joining Bayer she ran in 10 marathons, and when she’s sitting still, Kim enjoys nothing more than a good book.
Whether it’s spending time with family, working with colleagues or finding new bee research projects to conduct, Kim enthusiastically embraces her busy life. “Every day is different and that’s just the way I like it,” she says. For someone who routinely examines biological diversity, that seems entirely appropriate.