Healthy Hives

A Research Initiative Identifying Measurable, Tangible Bee Health Solutions for Beekeepers

About the Initiative

Healthy Hives is a multi-year, $1.8 million research initiative well on its way to finding measurable and tangible solutions for improving U.S. honey bee colony health. Every day, bees and their keepers face significant threats – from deadly Varroa mites that wipe out colonies, to accessing adequate nutrition, to environmental challenges.

That’s why Bayer, together with nonprofit pollinator research organization Project Apis m., set out in 2015 to do something different in the fight for bee health. Leveraging Bayer-funded research grants and the expertise at Project Apis m., Healthy Hives focuses on beekeeper-led research projects that work to accomplish four research objectives:

  • Conduct an economic evaluation of apicultural practices to quantify the true “cost” of beekeeping.
  • Compare and contrast current best management practices (BMPs) designed to understand how different management techniques contribute to overall beekeeping success.
  • Evaluate the use of “smart hive” technology to monitor commercial migratory operations and determine whether the use of this technology can improve colony health and operational success.
  • Evaluate available U.S. genetic lines of bees for traits related to colony health and productivity; identify favorable traits for beekeeping operations and strategies to increase adoption across the industry.

In late 2020, Healthy Hives announced the continuation of the initiative with a three-year, $500,000 extension, funded by Bayer.

Learn about the Research: Healthy Hives Digital Flipbook

Interested in what our research partners have completed so far? Download our free e-flipbook, Research for Tangible Bee Health Solutions, below to learn more about the scientists involved in the initiative and the research currently underway.


Click here to download the booklet

Healthy Hives 2020 Research for Tangible Bee-Health Solutions


Bayer and Project Apis m. are proud to share this digital booklet, which chronicles the initiative’s impact since 2015 through its funding of 11 distinct bee health research projects.


Current Projects

  • Establishing the Diversity of the Deformed Wing Virus – Stephen J. Martin, Ph.D., University of Salford, Manchester, England; Randy Oliver, commercial beekeeper, Grass Valley, Calif.
  • Phytochemicals as a Management Tool for Sustainable Honey Bee Colony Health – Arathi Seshadri, Ph.D., Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colo.
  • Electronic Data Collection and Sensor Integration for Data Aggregation, Best Management Practices, Data Mining and Smart Hive Development – Joseph Cazier, Ph.D., Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.; James Wilkes, Ph.D., Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.; Ed Hassler, Ph.D., Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.
  • Comparison of U.S. Honey Bee Genetic Lines for Queen Production and Pollination Efficiency Under Field Conditions – Steve Sheppard, Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.
  • Evaluation and Comparison of Management Strategies and Economics of Agricultural Practices in Commercial Beekeeping Operations – Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.
  • Determining How Nosema Ceranae Infection Alters the Honey Bee Midgut Microbiome – Quinn McFrederick, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, Calif.
  • Pesticide Toxicity Analysis of Varroa Mites – Jody Johnson, Ph.D., Cullaborate LLC, Baltimore, Md.
  • Optimization and Scale-Up of Timed-Release Organic Acides for Varroa Control – Edmund Stark, Ph.D., Michigan State University, Lansing, Mich.
  • Comparative Characterization of Virus Content and Resistance in Genetic Lines of U.S. Honey Bees – Olav Rueppell, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Bee Integrated Demonstration – Pragmatic Beekeeping, Forage and Farming Practices – Julie Shapiro, Keystone Policy Institute, Keystone, Colo.; Mike Smith, Conversation Technology Information Center, West Lafayette, Ind.
  • Understanding Varroa resistance in US bee populations - Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
  • Development of a practical guide to indoor storage of honey bees - Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.

Meet the Project Apis m. Scientific Advisory Board

Project Apis m. funds research using a committee of science advisors and directors including many commercial beekeepers. Over the next three years, research grant proposals will be reviewed by Project Apis m. science advisors (below), and Steve Sheppard, Ph.D., past chair of Healthy Hives.

  • Eric Mussen, Ph.D., retired extension apiculturist, the University of California Davis;
  • Jerry Hayes, editor, Bee Culture magazine;
  • Michelle Flenniken, Ph.D, assistant professor in the plant sciences department, Montana State University;
  • Reed Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of entomology, The Ohio State University;
  • Mike Goblirsch, Ph.D., research entomologist, the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service; and,
  • Brandon Hopkins, Ph.D., assistant research professor in the department of entomology, Washington State University.

The Healthy Hives Symposium at the 2020 American Beekeeping Federation Conference

In January 2020, Healthy Hives hosted a three-hour symposium at the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) Conference in Chicago. Featuring research presentations, a panel discussion and interactive project demonstrations, the symposium showcased the research to the beekeeping industry and the progress made thus far. You can read more about the symposium here.


Healthy Hives Webinars with Bee Culture

In addition to providing research grants, Healthy Hives is also dedicated to serving as a resource to the beekeeping community by sharing practical findings.

Replays of our educational webinars created in partnership with Bee Culture are available for viewing below.

2018 National Pollinator Week Webinar Series:

2017 National Pollinator Week Webinar Series: