Beekeeping Bees

Harvard and the Beehives

Earlier this spring,  Harvard University reached out to our local beekeeper’s association.  One of their researchers in the School of Public Health is doing research on honeybees.  His goal is to study the distribution of pesticides in pollen across the state of Massachusetts. He is particularly interested in pesticides containing neonicotinoids, as they have shown potential links in previous studies to cause  massive honeybee death (Colony Collapse Disorder).

I completed the questionnaire for candidacy and awaited an answer to see if I would be participating in the study.  Yesterday, the FedEx truck arrived.  My criteria must have matched what they required. We are part of the study.

Over the next few months, I will be collecting pollen samples and a honey sample to send off to Harvard for analysis.  I am so excited and happy to participate in studies like these, especially if we can get some answers to so many questions that have plagued beekeepers across the state and country.  I will be collecting my first sample on the next warm, sunny day in April when the bees are out foraging.  I’ll be reading up on how to attach the pollen collector to the hive entrance.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

  • Kp

    How interesting! I hope you'll be sharing their findings with us!

  • How neat! I am glad that they are researching this to try to get to the bottom of colony collapse disorder. So cool that you get to be a part of it!

  • How wonderfully exciting for you!!
    They have to find out what is happening to our bees!! Thank YOU for taking part and trying to help!

  • Congratulations!
    I am a hobby beekeeper and have been doing my own research into this subject. Can you answer a question for me? Are some crops genetically altered to contain the neonicotinoids within the plant? This New York Times article ( seems to imply so, but doesn't provide much detail.

    • Hi Carrie! Thank you for the comment. It is my understanding that neonicotinoids are present in commonly used pesticides that affects the nervous systems of insects. Europe actually banned pesticides containing neonicotinoids today. These neonicotinoids can travel into the plants and become present in the pollen and nectar. Some crops such as corn, have been genetically engineered to express 2-3 insecticide genes. Take a peek at this:
      Poor bees.

    • Thank you very much for the information, but I'm still a bit confused. The link you gave takes me to an article that sites a Perdue study. The article mentions corn: "grown from seeds treated or genetically engineered to express three different insecticides", but the Purdue study (she mentions together with the GE crop reference), only studied neonicotinoid treated maize – corn whose seeds were treated topically – as far as I can tell. So I'm still not clear as to whether anyone has studied the crops that she calls "Bt–expressing variants aimed at controlling the European Corn Borer and corn root worm", as being part of what is harming bees – ??

    • I am by no means an expert on this in any way, nor do I know of or follow all of the studies in this field of research. I might suggest you contact the authors of those articles or Monsanto to find the answers to your great questions. Good Luck and do keep me posted on what you discover. Thanks so much.