Judy Wu-Smart: Bees & the UNL Bee Lab
In this interview, we tour the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Bee Lab with Dr. Judy Wu-Smart. Assistant Professor and extension and research entomologist at UNL. Wu-Smart has been the director of the Bee Lab on East Campus since 2015 and is committed to developing pollinator health programs to help beekeepers, scientists, policy makers, and land managers understand bee health and their interactions with the environment. Wu-Smart has an undergraduate degree from Humboldt State University, a Masters from Washington State University, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota.
Special thanks to Margaret Huettl for providing a video land acknowledgement for this episode.
To listen to the podcast version of this, visit: https://anchor.fm/gp-lectures
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[00:00:00.500]Welcome to Great Plains Anywhere,
[00:00:01.930]A Paul A. Olson Lecture from the
[00:00:03.710]Center for Great Plains Studies
[00:00:05.180]at the University of Nebraska.
[00:00:07.330]The Center for Great Plains studies went on location
[00:00:09.660]at UNL's Bee Lab with Dr. Judy Wu-Smart,
[00:00:12.980]Assistant Professor and Extension and Research Entomologist
[00:00:16.770]at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:00:19.200]Wu-Smart has an undergraduate degree
[00:00:21.230]from Humboldt State University,
[00:00:23.070]a Master's from Washington State University,
[00:00:25.850]and a PhD from the University of Minnesota.
[00:00:28.890]Wu-Smart has been the Director
[00:00:30.290]of the Bee Lab on East Campus since 2015,
[00:00:33.190]and is committed to developing pollinator health programs
[00:00:36.440]to help beekeepers, scientists, policy makers,
[00:00:39.920]and land managers understand bee health
[00:00:42.620]and their interactions within the environment.
[00:00:45.910]On behalf of the Center for Great Plains Studies,
[00:00:48.070]I would like to begin by acknowledging
[00:00:50.230]that the University of Nebraska is a land grant institution
[00:00:53.920]with campuses and programs
[00:00:55.470]on the past, present, and future homelands
[00:00:57.770]of the Pawnee, Ponca, Oto, Missouria, Omaha, Lakota, Dakota
[00:01:03.450]Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Caw peoples as well
[00:01:06.880]as the relocated Ho-Chunk, Iowa, and Saq and Fox peoples.
[00:01:11.150]Please take a moment to consider the legacies
[00:01:13.370]of more than 150 years of displacement, violence,
[00:01:17.750]settlement, and survival that bring us here today.
[00:01:21.200]This acknowledgement and the centering of indigenous peoples
[00:01:24.200]is a start as we move forward together
[00:01:26.700]for the next 150 years.
[00:01:28.730]Can you tell us about the Bee Lab
[00:01:30.317]and your role at the university?
[00:01:33.670]Sure, yeah, so we have a number of graduate students
[00:01:36.900]and undergraduate students helping us
[00:01:38.980]in both the research and extension components
[00:01:41.280]of our position.
[00:01:42.113]So in the Bee Lab we do a lot of research
[00:01:44.640]related to managing wild bees like you mentioned,
[00:01:47.140]but we take that research and we look at
[00:01:49.760]how the data can be formed into best recommendation
[00:01:53.640]practices for the beekeepers, the landowners,
[00:01:56.670]as well as some managers, land managers,
[00:01:58.770]to make pollinator friendly landscapes.
[00:02:00.630]So we have graduate students working on research,
[00:02:03.450]undergraduates working on research,
[00:02:05.420]and technicians, and all of them, all of us
[00:02:08.750]reach out to the community,
[00:02:10.080]engage them in the importance of pollinators,
[00:02:12.500]and try to incorporate ways for them to get involved
[00:02:17.270]with the research as well.
[00:02:18.730]This is a top bar hive.
[00:02:20.660]And then these are just your standard Langstroth hives.
[00:02:23.560]So this is a smoker.
[00:02:24.530]So we use a smoker, as well as a hive tool
[00:02:27.930]for basic beekeeping.
[00:02:29.140]So the hive tool allows us to manipulate the frames
[00:02:32.270]'cause they get really sticky with propolis and wax.
[00:02:34.800]And then the smoke allows us to calm the bees.
[00:02:38.260]So they, and I can make smoke rings with it too.
[00:02:42.005]So one of the things that they think,
[00:02:44.410]and this is not something that is known,
[00:02:46.280]but they suspect that it mimics forest fires,
[00:02:49.650]where the smell causes the bees to wanna pack up
[00:02:52.910]and get ready to move.
[00:02:53.793]And if you have a fire, what's the most precious belonging
[00:02:58.360]that a bee has?
[00:02:59.200]Well, it's the honey.
[00:03:00.390]Because the honey is what they need to make more comb.
[00:03:03.440]So you have to move really quickly,
[00:03:05.150]and construct a new home.
[00:03:07.010]They're gonna consume and gorge themselves with nectar,
[00:03:10.270]and that allows them to stimulate their wax production
[00:03:12.770]so they can build a new home.
[00:03:14.360]So when we introduce smoke in the hive,
[00:03:16.600]it's really just to distract them,
[00:03:18.260]get them to engorge on nectar and ignore us.
[00:03:24.149]Yeah, it also disrupts some of their alarm pheromoning.
[00:03:25.990]So pheromones, so chemical signaling.
[00:03:28.190]So honey bees are incredibly important for Nebraska,
[00:03:31.490]as well as (chuckles) most of all agriculture,
[00:03:34.500]because they pollinate, and they help pollinate,
[00:03:37.000]I'd say about 90-100 different crops.
[00:03:40.220]Most of these crops are your most nutritious
[00:03:43.770]fruits, veggies, and nuts.
[00:03:46.320]Not all of the crops depend a 100% on honeybees.
[00:03:50.590]Many of them are getting mild increases in yield,
[00:03:55.240]or even improvements in taste, uniformity, and sweetness.
[00:04:00.350]And so, some people get that misinformation
[00:04:03.980]that a third of our diet is dependent on bees.
[00:04:07.500]A third of our diet is dependent on insect pollination.
[00:04:10.930]80% of that is done by commercial bees.
[00:04:14.900]The other part is done by our wild bees
[00:04:16.900]and other wild pollinators.
[00:04:19.240]And so honey bees are incredible,
[00:04:20.900]because they are easily transported
[00:04:23.510]into large monocultural crops, or pollination services,
[00:04:27.240]but we do need the wild pollinators to supplement
[00:04:30.920]all of the cropping systems
[00:04:32.800]in which we don't have honeybees imported in for that.
[00:04:36.651]These are honeybees.
[00:04:38.267]Again, these are not native, but they've been here
[00:04:40.730]since the 1600s, so several hundred years.
[00:04:44.230]There's only why species of honeybees here in the US.
[00:04:48.560]There are about 20,000 bees in the world, 20,000 species.
[00:04:54.010]And about 4,000 species in North America.
[00:04:57.840]We estimate that there might be
[00:04:59.170]four to 500 species in Nebraska,
[00:05:01.820]but that's one of the things
[00:05:03.040]the lab is trying to figure out,
[00:05:04.810]is what species we have in which landscapes.
[00:05:07.470]So it's not just about pollination and the what,
[00:05:09.570]isn't it just about honey.
[00:05:13.110]It's also about just, these are Keystone species.
[00:05:16.190]They provide food, they provide pollination services
[00:05:20.520]but they also provide food for a lot of wildlife.
[00:05:26.820]So bees and other insects are critical prey.
[00:05:29.870]They're cells that are open have that liquid.
[00:05:33.110]That's nectar, that's what the bees collect
[00:05:34.970]from the flowers.
[00:05:37.058]And then they'll actually process that nectar
[00:05:38.980]by exuding it out on their tongues, and sucking it back in.
[00:05:41.550]Exuding it, and sucking it back in,
[00:05:42.710]and they'll fan their wings.
[00:05:44.250]And what they're doing is they're removing all the moisture,
[00:05:47.240]and adding salivary enzymes to break down the sugars.
[00:05:50.740]That's one of the reasons why honey never goes bad.
[00:05:53.550]'Cause all the moisture's removed, nothing can grow.
[00:05:57.610]And honey will change in color, tastes,
[00:06:00.390]depending on what they're foraging on.
[00:06:01.800]So lighter honey are tend to be more popular,
[00:06:04.890]'cause they're sweet, and they're really floral.
[00:06:07.100]Darker honeys tend to be higher in antioxidants,
[00:06:10.160]but also have stronger flavors.
[00:06:11.770]So some people like it and some people don't,
[00:06:14.250]and would rather bake with it.
[00:06:16.200]So one of the biggest concerns in Nebraska for beekeepers
[00:06:19.330]is chemical exposure.
[00:06:23.600]And one of the things that beekeepers
[00:06:25.270]are most frustrated with is being able to try to tell
[00:06:27.850]what is a chemical exposure versus a mite or a disease
[00:06:32.587]in the colony.
[00:06:33.770]So we set up what are called dead bee traps,
[00:06:36.750]and we're actually helping beekeepers,
[00:06:38.320]educating them how to use dead bee traps
[00:06:40.770]as a monitoring tool to assess abnormal mortality.
[00:06:44.330]What am I seeing bees coming out at,
[00:06:46.590]in large masses, dying in front of my hive.
[00:06:49.330]Is it attributed to a chemical spray,
[00:06:52.020]or some other farm practice, a beekeeping practice
[00:06:55.530]or some disease or mites?
[00:06:57.220]And that helps the beekeepers really figure out
[00:06:59.660]what they need to do for management.
[00:07:01.330]And it also helps us researchers figure out
[00:07:03.520]the best way to help them decide what action
[00:07:07.500]needs to be done to improve the health of their bees.
[00:07:09.980]And honey bees are social meaning that every individual
[00:07:13.090]you see here relies on one another for survival.
[00:07:16.980]So honey bees will have one queen,
[00:07:19.510]and maybe a couple hundred drones,
[00:07:22.940]but the drones, or the male bees,
[00:07:24.820]are gone by the end of the spring.
[00:07:26.450]Or by the end of the summer.
[00:07:29.373]In the fall, if they haven't mated,
[00:07:30.570]they're literally dragged out and thrown outside the hive.
[00:07:32.910]These are Nebraska native species.
[00:07:34.460]Some of them are introduced, but most of them are native.
[00:07:37.410]You can see that they'll use the same,
[00:07:39.020]either stem or a block.
[00:07:41.140]These right here are occupied nests.
[00:07:46.010]So depending on what they use to fill those chambers
[00:07:50.350]you can kind of identify those bees.
[00:07:52.460]These are Mason bees,
[00:07:53.730]because they're using mud as a brood partitioning source.
[00:07:59.100]These are resin bees or cellophane bees.
[00:08:01.980]'Cause you can tell the material they're using
[00:08:03.540]is very cellophane-like.
[00:08:06.750]And this one you see the hole, this one has already emerged.
[00:08:11.000]So if you imagine this is one big channel right here
[00:08:14.610]one big tube, the queen will go in here.
[00:08:17.300]Solitary queen will go in there.
[00:08:19.890]She'll collect a provision of pollen,
[00:08:22.800]put it down, lay an egg, wall that chamber off,
[00:08:26.350]put another ball down, lay an egg, wall that chamber off.
[00:08:29.530]And so she'll produce maybe three or four,
[00:08:32.520]maybe even five to six,
[00:08:33.780]depending on how long this is, individual offspring.
[00:08:39.080]And then they'll wait until they're all emerged.
[00:08:41.650]And then they'll come out the hole.
[00:08:43.200]Each frame, if it's filled with honey is about 10 pounds.
[00:08:45.640]So each box is about a hundred pounds,
[00:08:47.880]if it gets really heavy.
[00:08:49.270]So that is a limiting factor determining
[00:08:52.380]who can actually keep bees,
[00:08:54.120]given how labor-intensive it is.
[00:08:57.730]It really inhibits professional development
[00:08:59.880]and growth in an operation if you're female.
[00:09:02.580]Or if you are physically limited
[00:09:05.060]in being able to carry big heavy pounds.
[00:09:07.950]So this experiment is actually looking at the performance
[00:09:12.040]of three different hive types,
[00:09:13.750]the standard hive, the top bar hive,
[00:09:16.420]which is easier on the back.
[00:09:18.290]And this is a modified Bromo box.
[00:09:20.520]And then the supers.
[00:09:22.040]So those are boxes that are
[00:09:23.580]essentially smaller medium boxes.
[00:09:25.530]We usually use it only for honey production,
[00:09:27.940]but if you keep the bees in it,
[00:09:29.240]it makes each box only about 50 pounds,
[00:09:32.090]as opposed to 100 or so.
[00:09:34.510]Again, I'm just giving them a little bit of smoke
[00:09:36.180]to calm them down.
[00:09:37.790]They don't like getting woke up in the morning.
[00:09:42.356]You can see a lot of yellow inside the cells.
[00:09:45.490]That's pollen that they're collecting.
[00:09:48.420]And then the nurse bees will consume that,
[00:09:51.340]and feed it to their brood.
[00:09:53.930]This right here is, oh, they're coming out!
[00:09:59.947]These are pupating bees.
[00:10:00.820]Like butterflies have a caterpillar or pupal stage,
[00:10:04.110]and then an adult stage.
[00:10:05.700]This is that metamorphasizing bee, it's pupating.
[00:10:09.280]And you can see it's chewing its way out.
[00:10:10.930]It's actually emerging.
[00:10:11.964]Oh yeah, that one is emerging right there.
[00:10:13.759]So it's being born (chuckles)
[00:10:15.077]And so this one right here just came out.
[00:10:17.910]You can tell that it was just born because,
[00:10:20.427]'Cause it has, like a shell on it.
[00:10:21.660]It has, well it has silvery fur,
[00:10:24.420]and its cuticle hasn't hardened,
[00:10:25.810]so it doesn't even, it can't even sting yet.
[00:10:27.440]It's a one day old bee.
[00:10:29.330]Varroa destructor mites, these are ecto-parasites
[00:10:32.940]that infect honey bee colonies.
[00:10:35.810]And essentially what they do is, imagine if you were a bee
[00:10:41.510]this would be, this would be the equivalent
[00:10:44.210]of a pancake size tick, wandering your body,
[00:10:47.810]and piercing your skin and sucking your blood and fat.
[00:10:52.202]So that's essentially how horrendous it is
[00:10:54.630]that the bees have this ecto-parasite that feeds
[00:10:57.690]on their fat bodies and their circulatory fluid.
[00:11:01.240]And then, vectors a bunch of viruses
[00:11:03.490]as they're puncturing the cuticle.
[00:11:06.160]And so if you don't keep varroa managed in a colony,
[00:11:09.597]the colony can die within a year or two.
[00:11:12.500]So a lot of education is involved with helping beekeepers
[00:11:15.500]manage the mites.
[00:11:16.850]And then if you have chemical exposure in the picture,
[00:11:20.590]a lot of those make them immune suppressed
[00:11:24.560]to make it more susceptible to those diseases.
[00:11:28.540]But more importantly, it hinders their ability
[00:11:31.150]to actually get rid of
[00:11:33.940]these pests and diseases behaviorally.
[00:11:36.510]So bees do this really cool behavior
[00:11:39.040]called hygienic behavior.
[00:11:41.700]And that essentially means that they,
[00:11:43.730]these workers can sense
[00:11:46.140]when the bees are pupating in this stage,
[00:11:48.940]whether or not inside the cells, those bees have mites
[00:11:52.190]or have disease, and if they're mite infected
[00:11:54.790]or disease infected, the bees will actually remove
[00:11:57.140]that brood out, throw it outside the hive
[00:11:59.360]before the mites become mature,
[00:12:01.714]and before the bees becomes infectious.
[00:12:04.200]But if there's chemicals involved, then it inhibits
[00:12:06.830]their cognitive abilities and their sensory abilities,
[00:12:11.150]and then they can't perform hygienic behavior,
[00:12:12.455]Then they can't detect it, yeah.
[00:12:13.730]which is their behavioral modification
[00:12:16.670]to combat pests and diseases.
[00:12:18.750]So when these bees come out of their pupal stage,
[00:12:22.130]they spend the first few days of their life
[00:12:26.310]serving as a nurse bee, meaning that that's what they do.
[00:12:29.120]They care for the brood.
[00:12:30.800]They feed, they consume a lot of pollen.
[00:12:33.640]It stimulates their food glands
[00:12:35.970]to produce this proteinaceous fluid for them.
[00:12:39.560]When they start to age, those nurse bees,
[00:12:42.600]their glands deteriorate, and they transition
[00:12:45.550]into a house bee age.
[00:12:47.270]House bee roles is like, comb construction,
[00:12:49.720]food processing, grooming, nesting, hygienic behavior.
[00:12:54.050]And then as they progress,
[00:12:55.830]they start going into more dangerous territory.
[00:12:58.680]So then they start hanging out at the entrance,
[00:13:01.300]serving as guard bees.
[00:13:03.200]And at the very end, at the end of their life,
[00:13:05.510]they become foragers.
[00:13:06.977]And the foragers have the riskiest behavior.
[00:13:10.270]They're basically just empty vehicles transfer food,
[00:13:13.510]because if you fly out,
[00:13:15.100]you're more likely to get killed
[00:13:16.930]from predation, desiccation, environmental stressors.
[00:13:21.380]So they send out the old.
[00:13:24.530]But what happens is if they, all the foragers end up dying
[00:13:28.260]from a chemical spray or some kind of exposure,
[00:13:31.000]it makes all of the bees have to readjust their jobs,
[00:13:35.350]and reallocate foragers for that role.
[00:13:38.610]Precocious foraging actually causes the bees
[00:13:40.900]to shorten their life, life longevity, and disrupts them
[00:13:44.640]'cause they're just not, they're not the right age
[00:13:47.870]or the right experience level to do that foraging task.
[00:13:53.850]So it's quite stressful for the bees.
[00:13:56.340]What is the lifespan of a typical bee?
[00:13:59.400]Well, for these bees, it's not going to be that long.
[00:14:04.161]When they start foraging, it's about four to six weeks.
[00:14:06.650]So in the summer, they're only around for a few months.
[00:14:09.370]But in the winter these same bees have to sustain
[00:14:12.240]their lives for four to five, you know, for, you know,
[00:14:15.570]from November all the way to
[00:14:17.080]to April, yeah.
Yeah, to those months, yeah.
[00:14:19.801]And they're the same bees.
[00:14:20.900]They're just physiologically more robust
[00:14:23.100]in terms of their fat stores.
[00:14:24.880]Oh yeah, I guess I see that a little bit.
[00:14:27.927]She will lay 1000-2000 eggs a day.
[00:14:30.160]And that's pretty much all she does.
[00:14:32.454]And the queen will live about
[00:14:33.430]two to four years traditionally,
[00:14:35.860]but nowadays they have to replace,
[00:14:38.840]be replaced a couple of times a year.
[00:14:40.460]And that's just because of the stress
[00:14:42.790]of all the chemical exposures,
[00:14:45.160]the migratory stress of being moved around.
[00:14:48.240]So the queen can, when she's laying the eggs,
[00:14:50.740]choose that to be fertilized or not.
[00:14:53.510]But in terms of queen rearing, the colony decides that.
[00:14:57.600]If the colony gets too large,
[00:14:59.710]her pheromones and her chemical signals kind of dissipate.
[00:15:03.360]And it tells the colony that they need to split,
[00:15:06.000]they need to swarm.
[00:15:07.440]That's their colony level reproduction.
[00:15:11.043]But in the other case if a colony
[00:15:12.090]is feeling stressed out from a failing queen,
[00:15:16.110]or she is sick or injured,
[00:15:18.280]the bees, the workers, actually take larvae,
[00:15:21.450]one day old larvae, and start feeding them
[00:15:24.090]extra proteinaceous food.
[00:15:25.890]It's a dietary trigger that determines whether a bee
[00:15:29.050]becomes a worker or a queen.
[00:15:31.220]So there are some cropping systems
[00:15:33.150]that are 100% reliant on honey bees.
[00:15:35.690]The best example is the almond production in California.
[00:15:40.513]There's currently about 960 or 990,000 bearing acres
[00:15:47.060]of almonds right now requiring about two point,
[00:15:49.870]I think two or 2.3 million hives.
[00:15:52.840]We don't meet that demand,
[00:15:54.989]'cause there's not enough hives in the US,
[00:15:56.550]but essentially there's probably about 2 million hives
[00:16:00.730]that move to California in January/February,
[00:16:04.610]just for those short bloom of almonds.
[00:16:07.540]One of the things that we've been trying to do in our lab,
[00:16:10.200]we do a lot of research on the effects of chemicals
[00:16:13.360]and farming practices, and how to make land management
[00:16:16.900]and farming practices more pollinator friendly.
[00:16:21.140]What we've kind of come to find is that
[00:16:27.820]it's not about pollinator conservation,
[00:16:30.490]although we're the Bee Lab,
[00:16:31.850]and we do really advocate about the importance of bees,
[00:16:35.920]and the importance of pollination services,
[00:16:38.620]and the importance of their role in the ecosystem.
[00:16:42.040]The other really critical thing that people miss
[00:16:45.000]is the fact that bees are bio-indicators
[00:16:47.460]of the one health system.
[00:16:49.400]Meaning bees are one biological indicator
[00:16:52.870]of how the environment is doing,
[00:16:55.150]and that environment condition is going to impact human life
[00:16:59.840]and human quality life as well.
[00:17:01.900]So in that location that I was mentioning
[00:17:03.740]our bees are dying consistently year after year.
[00:17:06.810]There's something seriously going on there,
[00:17:11.600]that we're starting to look at, okay,
[00:17:13.350]the bees are telling us something's happening in the system.
[00:17:16.525]Let's determine what is happening in the system,
[00:17:19.330]how it's infecting the other wildlife in the area,
[00:17:22.160]as well as the community members in that area.
[00:17:24.890]So the bees act a little like a canary in a coal mine.
[00:17:27.970]They are exactly like a canary in a coal mine.
[00:17:29.500]To give us an early warning of indications
[00:17:31.554]in the environment.
[00:17:32.387]And the beekeepers serve as kind of you know,
[00:17:36.187]the canary keepers of our environment.
[00:17:39.780]So, you know, there's a lot of beekeepers
[00:17:41.373]that are struggling to keep their bees alive.
[00:17:43.800]And that, to me, tells me that it's just,
[00:17:45.600]it's more than just management.
[00:17:46.950]There's something going on that we really have to work
[00:17:49.220]as a community to figure out.
[00:17:51.280]It's not always about pollination conservation
[00:17:53.680]and saving fuzzy little critters.
[00:17:55.583]It's to get they have an incredible role
[00:17:58.350]to play in our ecosystem.
[00:17:59.930]And they're telling us something very important
[00:18:01.930]about the environment.
[00:18:03.680]Here's a drone.
[00:18:05.873]So this big guy right here, he's kinda dumpy lookin'.
[00:18:09.634]He's got eyes that meet at the top of the head.
[00:18:11.480]Oh my goodness.
[00:18:12.313]So that gives him a 180 aerial view
[00:18:14.260]of the queen in flight.
[00:18:16.240]So she can, he can mate with her.
[00:18:18.180]They can hold 'em.
[00:18:19.013]He doesn't have any stingers.
[00:18:20.030]He's real friendly.
[00:18:20.863]He's real sweet.
[00:18:23.410]Yeah, you can see, no stinger in there.
[00:18:25.060]Two of the real big programs
[00:18:26.730]that we are consistently doing here through the lab
[00:18:29.510]is one, we don't have a state apiculturalist,
[00:18:32.190]and that's my position.
[00:18:33.410]So we do help with the APHIS program,
[00:18:37.730]which is the Animal Health Protection
[00:18:39.550]Inspection Program through USDA.
[00:18:41.310]So we provide services to beekeepers
[00:18:44.190]to assess their colonies for disease and health management.
[00:18:46.012]And we send those results back to the USDA
[00:18:49.580]and the University of Maryland
[00:18:50.770]so that they can get the results back.
[00:18:52.240]So we're helping beekeepers really figure out
[00:18:55.090]and inform them in terms of their management.
[00:18:57.250]The other thing we do is we started
[00:18:58.830]a Great Plains Master Beekeeping training program.
[00:19:02.450]And this is a regional program to help provide training
[00:19:05.940]for beekeepers all across the region.
[00:19:07.700]Because Kansas and Iowa, and some of our partners
[00:19:11.340]are lacking in terms of training and, and,
[00:19:13.820]and apicultural researchers.
[00:19:16.740]This program allows us to create
[00:19:19.500]a community learning network
[00:19:21.500]utilizing the local beekeeping associations as partners
[00:19:25.860]in this program to facilitate training opportunities,
[00:19:29.520]field apiary, open apiary sessions, and ways to engage
[00:19:34.020]volunteer experiences and volunteership.
[00:19:36.630]So really focusing on community engagement
[00:19:39.620]rather than book learning.
[00:19:41.000]There's a lot of resources you can get on YouTube.
[00:19:43.110]There's a lot of resources you can get in the books,
[00:19:46.350]but what you learn in the field
[00:19:48.130]and practical learning experiences is lacking.
[00:19:51.410]And so this program is really trying
[00:19:52.960]to make those connections for people locally to get
[00:19:55.680]in the apiary and learn hands-on stuff.
[00:19:58.700]Yeah, I think there's a number of things that people
[00:20:00.503]I think are surprised about bees, when I talk to 'em.
[00:20:03.630]First the gentleness of honeybees,
[00:20:05.740]when you're working with them.
[00:20:06.683]That is definitely something very obvious,
[00:20:11.710]There's a lot of bees are not out to get you.
[00:20:14.420]They're only going to sting if they're threatened.
[00:20:16.830]So managing and working with bees can be easily done safely.
[00:20:20.570]That's one thing that people are not aware of.
[00:20:23.020]The other thing is that these are very smart critters.
[00:20:26.213]Bees can teach you so much.
[00:20:27.810]So I've been in the bee business
[00:20:29.630]for almost 11, 12 years now.
[00:20:31.860]And every day I learn something new
[00:20:33.580]by observing them and seeing how they respond
[00:20:35.710]to the environment and stressors.
[00:20:37.670]I got into bees, because of an orchid bee in Florida.
[00:20:41.940]This is a bee that is, has a mutualistic partnership
[00:20:45.810]with orchids, the male to collect oils from the orchid
[00:20:49.260]in order to attract females.
[00:20:51.330]But in Florida, the orchids were nowhere to be found
[00:20:54.360]but the bees were naturalizing.
[00:20:56.097]And so as an intern, I was helping a scientist
[00:20:59.460]try to figure out what was happening there.
[00:21:01.540]Turns out these bees were collecting dozens
[00:21:03.730]of manmade and natural compounds from herbs, to solvents,
[00:21:08.810]to other chemicals, and reconstructing a cocktail
[00:21:13.320]very chemically similar to what they find in nature.
[00:21:16.320]So they were basically deconstructing
[00:21:18.780]a very complex chemical cocktail
[00:21:22.200]and utilizing that to attract females.
[00:21:24.870]And it just blew my mind as an intern.
[00:21:27.400]And ever since then, I've just loved bees
[00:21:29.680]and have been fascinated by their, their behavior
[00:21:32.190]and their intelligence.
[00:21:33.712]If people'd like to learn more about your work
[00:21:35.520]in the Bee Lab, what advice would you have for them?
[00:21:39.380]Well, anybody who was interested in beekeeping,
[00:21:42.300]I really strongly encourage you to first seek out
[00:21:44.550]a local bookkeeping association,
[00:21:46.520]and see locally what is available.
[00:21:48.680]We offer beekeeping courses, short courses, and,
[00:21:51.850]and now some online courses, but it's always best
[00:21:54.350]to start locally and see what kind of bee clubs
[00:21:58.990]or associations that you can kind of reach out to.
[00:22:01.780]Because you know, as much education as we can provide,
[00:22:05.710]I think it's, there's something to be said
[00:22:07.330]about community engagement and really getting involved
[00:22:09.750]with your community.
[00:22:10.583]So look us up.
[00:22:12.070]We can help you.
[00:22:12.903]We can facilitate some of that.
[00:22:14.560]We have classes.
[00:22:16.360]Those of you who are interested in research,
[00:22:18.680]reach out to us.
[00:22:19.513]We have a number of opportunities
[00:22:20.880]for citizen science projects,
[00:22:22.490]for undergrads and graduate programs.
[00:22:25.610]It's certainly an expanding lab and the demand is there
[00:22:29.190]for both the research and the education.
[00:22:31.180]So many of our students are actually going
[00:22:33.360]into this program, not wanting to stay in academia,
[00:22:37.040]but wanting to contribute to the community
[00:22:39.490]through organizational, like have professional positions.
[00:22:43.730]So they're not going into PhD programs
[00:22:45.347]but they're learning how to become educators.
[00:22:47.650]They're learning about science and science education.
[00:22:50.710]And so that's one of the surprising things
[00:22:52.200]I've seen in this lab is that we've created a niche
[00:22:54.600]for a lot of students to learn
[00:22:56.580]about professional development
[00:22:57.840]and getting into other professions
[00:23:00.430]from a science background.
[00:23:02.240]Dr. Judy Wu-Smart, thank you for joining us today.
[00:23:05.290]Thank you for having me.
[00:23:06.240]It's been a pleasure.
[00:23:07.954]We'd like to thank Dr. Wu-Smart
[00:23:09.410]for the tour of the bee lab, and for talking with us today.
[00:23:12.680]Find all of our short Great Plains Talks and Interviews
[00:23:15.580]as videos and podcasts at go.unl.edu/gp lectures.
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