Scientists are researching colony collapse disorder and trying to stop it. You can help with these citizen science projects.

Pennsylvania has one of the highest bee colony losses in the country, with about 45 to 50 percent of colonies dying.

Scientists are researching colony collapse disorder and trying to stop it. You can help.

There are two citizen science projects in the research lab of Margarita Lopez-Uribe, Penn State extension apiculturist.

Tracking feral bees

The issue: Most managed honey bee colonies can’t survive winter without disease treatment. At the same time, some feral (or unmanaged) bee populations are stable, suggesting that these colonies may have adapted to be resilient to these disease stressors.

The research: Test whether feral honey bees have stronger immune systems than managed honey bees. The first goal is to identify where feral honey bee colonies are across Pennsylvania. About 50 bees will be collected at each site and the colony will remain unharmed.

How you can help: If you are aware of an unmanaged or feral honey bee colony, please share the location via this online form or email You do not have to collect bees.


Read more about commercial bees pollinating crops in Lancaster County  Hives-for-hire: Worker bees pollinate crops in Lancaster County

The Great Pumpkin Project

The issue: Cucurbit plants like pumpkins and cucumbers are grown throughout the world yet we know little about the microbes and insects, both helpful and harmful, that grow with them.

The research: There are two projects. The first documents beetles that can damage these plants by eating the leaves, fruits and flowers and spreading pathogens between plants. The second documents beneficial insects that visit the flowers of pumpkins and carry pollen from male flowers to female flowers.

How you can help: If you have cucumbers and pumpkins in your garden, record and photograph insect visitors and the plant at least once a week. Collect and freeze beetles visiting these plants.


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