One of the founding students of the UofU Beekeeping Association, Stephen Stanko, has applied the skills he learned from beekeeping at the U to a career at the The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food’s (UDAF) Apiary program. Stephen serves as a honeybee inspector and scientist for the state agency and continues to educate the public about the importance of honeybees and how to best take care of them. The UDAF Apiary Program regularly participates in studies related to bee health and works to develop new technologies to better diagnose honey bee maladies. The biggest study they participate in each year is the USDA APHIS National Honey Bee Survey, which takes an epidemiological approach to document honey bee threats, diseases, pests, and pathogens. The National Honey Bee Survey is the largest and longest running study of its kind and continues to generate useful data each year. For more information on the survey or to see Utah specific results visit: https://beeinformed.org/aphis/.
The newest effort that Stephen and UDAF have undertaken to improve honey bee health involved updating their lab to handle more advanced diagnostic procedures. These new procedures use quantitative PCR, a DNA analysis method that allows for more accurate diagnosis of honey bee diseases and parasites. By cutting out the need to culture samples (grow bacterial colonies on a medium) they save on time and taxpayer cost. All this means that beekeepers get more accurate results faster than ever before, which in turn, allows them to take appropriate measures to address disease issues.
– Amy Sibul