Searching for Solutions: Healthy Hives 2020 Aims to Improve Bee Health

Healthy Hives 2020 Advisory Council
Healthy Hive 2020 Workshop Participants:
Kneeling (L-R): Dan Schmehl, David Tarpy, Don Parker, Al Summers.
1st Row (L-R): Tim Tucker, Barb Glen, Randy Verhoek, Gordy Wardell, Christi Heintz, Sara Riley (Crop Science Intern), Annie Krueger (Crop Science Intern), Melanie Robinson, Don Hopkins.
2nd Row (L-R): Jamie Ellis, Dick Rogers, Reed Johnson, Dave Fischer, Raj Singh, Steven Sheppard, David Westervelt. (Not pictured - Elina Nino).

Healthy Hives 2020, a multi-year, $1 million research initiative, is well on its way to finding measurable and tangible solutions for improving the health of U.S. honey bee colonies by the end of 2020. A diverse group of researchers and scientists are focused on studying critical bee health topics affecting the U.S. beekeeping industry, such as bee nutrition, Varroa and disease management, and enhanced management techniques through smart-hive technology. Leveraging Bayer-funded research grants, the nonprofit pollinator research organization Project Apis m. has led the administration of the program, now in its third year.

Since its inception in 2015, the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative has:

  • Rallied a steering committee comprised of a cross-section of bee health stakeholders from multiple sectors, including academia, government, agriculture, business and the beekeeping community, to assess the current status of honey bee health in the U.S. and set research priorities to tangibly improve hive conditions;
  • Issued two requests for proposals to identify scientists and promising research initiatives addressing the most critical concerns facing beekeepers today, as prioritized by the steering committee; and
  • Selected ten scientists to date to further the quest for answers to key bee health questions.
  • In 2017, Healthy Hives will feature an educational and informative webinar series during National Pollinator Week in partnership with Bee Culture. Leveraging today’s thought leaders in bee health, the webinar sessions include discussing efforts to sustain colony health, the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s efforts to supplement forage and suppressing Varroa mite and virus susceptibility, and recent research efforts to combat parasites and viruses.

More research projects will be funded as the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative moves forward, and 2017 is looking promising. Project Apis m. and the steering committee recently announced the latest grant recipients:

  • Dr. Olav Rueppell, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who will investigate virus content and resistance in several currently available honey bees;
  • Dr. Edmund Stark, Michigan State University, who will aim to develop a commercially viable, cost-effective product to control the Varroa mite, considered by many to be the major cause of honey bee colony decline; and
  • Julie Shapiro, Keystone Policy Center, who submitted a proposal on behalf of the Honey Bee Health Coalition and will conduct the Bee Integrated Demonstration Project to showcase best management practices that help to reduce honey bee colony loss.

Healthy Hives 2020 Video: Taking Action to Help Improve Bee Health