Washington State Beekeepers Association
Keeping the Bee in Business
Expand Local Research
The Washington State Beekeepers Association is seeking support for legislation which will increase and support research into Varroa mite control, honeybee genetic diversity, and honeybee forage across the state. Progress is continuing in improving WSU’s research capacity through the recent acquisition of a former corn seed research facility in Othello. WASBA will continue to foster local research by:
- Seeking funding to fully equip the new Washington State University Bee and Pollinator lab in Othello.
- Funding an additional full-time WSU research-apiarist position.
- Funding a full-time WSU pollination ecologist position.
- Increasing extension activities through statewide outreach.
- Researching ways to incentivize increased bee forage on crop lands, after weed control, and on public lands.
A full-time extension/research apiarist position, in addition to the current faculty, would bridge the gap between researchers, beekeepers and growers by conducting and disseminating research to those who provide and use pollination services to maximize effectiveness and minimize risks. A full-time pollination ecologist would address honey bees as part of the larger population of pollinators and the ecosystem, providing risk assessments associated with weed control and pesticides and guidance on better yields through applying pollinator science. All pollinated crops stand to benefit from these positions.
Washington State University is currently the only US lab doing genetic work on honey bee lines by gathering and storing germplasm from international sources. The new Othello facility will provide a germplasm repository for top-tier genetics from the US and international queen breeders. It will include a controlled atmosphere/refrigerated storage facility to test innovative technology for winter storage of honey bee hives. Most of the colony loss suffered by Washington beekeepers occurs while the hives are wintering and are not active. Current research conducted at WSU is promising in that large reductions in winter hive mortality have been seen through indoor storage, refrigeration and atmospheric control. The new facility would enable more accurate studies of this technique.
Once the new facility purchase is finalized, there will be space to greatly increase the effectiveness of honey bee research and outreach that is currently limited by their undersized and outdated facility. The full-time research/extension apiarist and pollination ecologist positions then should be filled.