Spatial and Taxonomic Patterns of Honey Bee Foraging: A Choice Test Between Urban and Agricultural Landscapes (Journal of Urban Ecology)

Ohio State University  By Denise Ellsworth   February 16, 2017

The health of honey bee colonies cannot be understood apart from the landscapes in which they live. Urban and agricultural developments are two of the most dramatic and widespread forms of human land use, but their respective effects on honey bees remain poorly understood. Here, we evaluate the relative attractiveness of urban and agricultural land use to honey bees by conducting a foraging choice test. Our study was conducted in the summer and fall, capturing a key portion of the honey bee foraging season that includes both the shift from summer- to fall-blooming flora and the critical period of pre-winter food accumulation. Colonies located at an apiary on the border of urban and agricultural landscapes were allowed to forage freely, and we observed their spatial and taxonomic foraging patterns using a combination of dance language analysis and pollen identification. We found a consistent spatial bias in favor of the agricultural landscape over the urban, a pattern that was corroborated by the prevalence in pollen samples of adventitious taxa common in the agricultural landscape. The strongest bias toward the agricultural environment occurred late in the foraging season, when goldenrod became the principal floral resource. We conclude that, in our study region, the primary honey bee foraging resources are more abundant in agricultural than in urban landscapes, a pattern that is especially marked at the end of the foraging season as colonies prepare to overwinter. Urban beekeepers in this region should, therefore, consider supplemental feeding when summer-blooming flora begin to decline. (Full paper here.)

Douglas B. Sponsler, Emma G. Matcham, Chia-Hua Lin, Jessie L. Lanterman, Reed M. Johnson

OSU Webinar: Gardening for Pollinators

The Bee Lab Beekeeping Webinars are back! 

Join us for our free, monthly webinar series beginning at 9AM EASTERN tomorrowMarch 18th

Gardening for Pollinators - Denise Ellsworth, The Ohio State University

Gardeners play a vital role in the development and conservation of habitat that benefits pollinators, including bees, birds and butterflies. This session will focus on the practical steps gardeners can take to create or enhance habitat, including plant selection and simple design elements. By creating a patchwork of garden spaces that provide food and shelter for pollinators, gardeners can positively impact the health and survival of these important creatures. 

All webinars are free, and registration is not required. Webinars run from 9:00AM to 10:00AM Eastern.

To join the webinar, follow the link below and LOG IN AS A GUEST at about 8:55AM Eastern:

To access via iPad, iPhone or Android device, download the Adobe Connect app. 
All webinars will be recorded and archived on the Bee Lab website.

Webinar: OSU: Chemistry of Honey

Ohio State Extension, Department of Entomology

Join us for our free monthly beekeeping webinar on July 16th at 9AM (Eastern) 6AM (Pacific) featuring Thomas Janini, Associate Professor with The Ohio State University. 

Professor Janini will talk about the chemical components of honey. Specifically, he will discuss the types of sugars found in honey, enzymes used to convert nectar into honey, and other compounds commonly found in nectar and honey.

All webinars are free, and pre-registration is not required. To join this free webinar, follow the link and LOG IN AS A GUEST at about 8:55 AM (Eastern) 5:55 AM (Pacific) on July 16th: Bee Lab Webinar link

To access via Droid, iPad or iPhone, download the Adobe Connect app.

This and each monthly webinar will be recorded and archived on the Ohio State Bee Lab website the day of the session. 

Chemistry of Honey webinar with Dr. Thomas Janini, The Ohio State University. July 16, 2014. 43 minutes.

Chemistry of Honey Handout (PDF)

The Tick Course

Some members have been concerned about ticks. You may want to check out: 

The Tick Course is an on-line training module developed by Dr. Glen Needham and Denise Ellsworth of the OSU Department of Entomology. This self-paced module was developed to teach hunters, gardeners, veterinary professionals and extension staff about tick biology, tick identification, and tick-borne diseases, including Lyme Disease. 
This not-for-credit course consists of videos, self-paced lessons, quizzes and internet resources. The course takes approximately three hours to complete. The registration fee is $10.
The Tick Course is available through eXtension, the National Extension System websiteTo get started, click on the eXtension website link and create an account. Find The Tick Course in the Yard and Garden category.