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jar of bees

Friends in High Places

May 5, 2020

May we offer you a jar of bees in this trying time?

If you know any software developers, you’ll know they’re a quirky bunch. Bright and curious, intense and focused, quirky…

We love it. Anyway this week we met a kindred spirit in Dr. Robyn Underwood. Robyn is an entomology professor at Penn State and an expert on honey bee health. Honestly, what she doesn't know about bees probably isn’t worth knowing. And, as has so often been the case during this strange and wonderful journey, she is bestowing her knowledge upon us.

That never stops feeling amazing, you know? A software company collecting this group of world-renowned biologists and entomologists still feels humbling.

Science is a fundamentally unselfish pursuit. Decades of trial and error and meticulous research not for personal gain but for the greater good of man….bee kind. We have found such generosity among the scientists we’ve reached out to, and Robyn is no exception.

In our long call that covered just about every pollinator topic we could think of, we learned more about the process of both testing for varroa mites and testing on varroa mites. The latter involves something called a sugar shake test, which is an awfully cute name for anything involving this.

She confirmed that varroa mites do indeed attach to foragers outside the hive and not just on nurse bees inside. That’s huge, because it means when wild, foraging bees fly through the BeeKeep, it'll remove mites that would have otherwise made it back to vulnerable hives.

She gave us something to think about regarding color, too. We’ve been envisioning the BeeKeep as a beautiful, plain wood structure, but that might not grab the attention of passing bees, especially if there are nectaring flowers nearby.

Honestly we’re putting a pin in that until we get this essential oil debacle worked out, but more on that next time.