Passers-by the wildflower field at Hampshire’s main entrance may have noticed some “Bee” signs, along with some green flagging tape, in the middle of our beautifully-flowering field. These indicators surround a new, short-term home for a hive of honey bees who are being used to conduct research on a gut pathogen in bumblebees. Lynn Adler, a biologist at UMass Amherst, was on campus recently and noticed our spectacular field of daisies and related members of the Compositae family. Adler explains,
My lab recently discovered that sunflower pollen has really impressive medicinal qualities for a bumble bee disease. Now we’d like to assess whether pollen from related species does too. When there’s a large patch of flowers, the easiest way to collect pollen is to have honey bees collect it for us. Then we can test its medicinal effects. I didn’t have plans to collect much this summer, but I was at Hampshire the other day and saw the large field of daisies and it seemed like a great opportunity.
The hive will only be here for a couple of weeks while the flowers are in bloom and the pollen is collected. In the meantime, welcome to our new guests; bee-st of luck to you with your research!