Frequently Asked Questions

Two “expert” bee researchers ponder a quandary: “well, what do you think?” Credit: Zach Huang


      Beekeepers are almost by definition curious individuals. The nature of beekeeping, as with any environmental relationship, is complex. Even some of the most experienced beekeepers are confounded by the mysteries of a bee hive. That is what makes honey bee research a rewarding and never-ending journey.
      Below is a list of commonly asked questions and links to the best answer at the time it was …

Webinars and Seminars

A presentation at a honey bee conference. Credit:Zach Huang

      Researchers and other knowledgeable individuals commonly give presentations on their area of expertise, either at conferences or other smaller meetings. We try to record these seminars whenever possible to allow the widest audience for the presentation. Overtime some of the links to a seminar may be broken and unrecoverable, we will attempt to maintain an up-to-date list of our video content. Webinars and seminars that are recorded, archived online, and available

Advanced Field and Lab Techniques

Artificial Insemination of a Honey Bee Queen. Credit: Courtesy The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

      For the intrepid beekeeper, especially those with access to a microscope or laboratory, many diagnostic techniques are available. Investing in a decent quality microscope, particularly when shared by a beekeeping club, is a worthwhile endeavor.
      Below are methods for a few advanced techniques that may be appropriate for experienced beekeepers, while others should only be attempted by those with significant training. If …

Native Bees

Metallic sweat bee (Augochlora pura). Photo by Philip Moore. Credit: Sam Droege


      Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are but one species among thousands of different bees within the superfamily Apoidea. Honey bees are unique in their societal life cycle and storage of large food reserves; most bees are solitary, nest individually, and do not store surplus food. Honey bees are not native to America and were imported from Europe early on during colonization. Native bees have evolved with …

Honey Bee Lab and Organization Links

Male Melissodes bees apparently sleeping in a sunflower. Credit: Zach Huang

      Many government agencies, private interest groups, and universities in the US and around the world work to better understand and protect honey bees and other pollinators. Many of these groups offer diagnostic or other services in honey bee health, while others feature informative resources for beekeepers, growers, gardeners, and other stakeholders.
      Below is a selection of websites that offer compelling and trustworthy information or services in the areas of …

Citizen Science

The European Wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum). Credit:Courtesy The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

      People all over the globe are discovering that their observations and local knowledge can be valuable to researchers investigating various ecological phenomena. Natural history groups in particular are reaching out to “citizen scientists” to help them collect data and the internet has opened up a world of communication between these groups.
     Because insects are common and easily observable, many contributions can …

Beekeeping Equipment

A productive apiary with standard bee hive equipment on hive stands. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

     The modern bee hive was invented by the Reverend L. L. Langstroth, patented in 1852, after his monumental discovery of “bee space”. Bee space describes the phenomenon that if a space less than 1/4 inch is left the bees fill it with propolis (a glue like substance produced from tree sap) and, when a space larger than 3/8 inch …

Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding

A typical queen cell cup used in queen rearing. Credit: Courtesy The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright


     Queen rearing is the process of inducing a colony to produce new queens by manipulating various colony attributes. This can be accomplished by any experienced beekeeper, though most beekeepers purchase new queens from well established producers. Bee breeding is the selection of desirable traits over generations of queens and is only feasible by those with long-term commitment and significant expertise. …

Pesticides and Honey Bee Health

Honey bee foraging on Borage. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

      Pesticides are a class of chemicals or biological agent with properties designed to deter, kill, incapacitate, or otherwise limit damage by a pest. most pesticides are used to protect plants by targeting weeds, plant pathogens, insects, nematodes, or other damaging organisms. Pesticides use is widespread in modern agriculture and can be applied in many forms. The use of pesticides must follow label instructions and misuse …

Basic Beekeeping Techniques

Beekeeper inspecting a brood frame. Credit: The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright

      Entering the world of beekeeping can be fun and challenging: many new terms must be understood; equipment, tools, and bees purchased; seasonal management practices researched; beekeeping clubs joined; trade magazines subscribed to; classes attended; and now is the time to learn some techniques.
      Understanding the basics of colony inspection and manipulation, monitoring for pests and diseases, producing honey, and preparing for winter are crucial to …