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.
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.