Landscape effects on bee health  

Location can greatly impact the survival and health of honey bee colonies [1], diversity and abundance of wild pollinator species [2],  and pollination services of key crops [3].  We have recently initiated a new project to develop generalizable landscape indices – that can be applied to natural, agricultural, rural, suburban and urban landscapes – to map the quality of a landscape in terms of forage resource abundance, pesticide exposure risk, climatic severity, and population density of honey bees.  We have created a network of citizen scientist beekeepers to monitor the health and survival of bees in diverse landscapes and under different management regimes. Using this information, we will comprehensively assess the role of these indices in determining the health of managed honey bees and wild bumble bee populations.  Based on our results, we plan to develop online tools which will both allow stakeholders to assess the quality of their landscapes for bees and provide recommendations for interventions that can improve bee survival and performance.

Current lab members: Maggie Douglas, Tyler Jones

Collaborators (Penn State): Shelby Fleischer, Margarita López-Uribe, Harland Patch, Doug Miller, John Tooker

Collaborators: Eric Lonsdorf, Amelie Davis

Funding: USDA-ERS, Penn State Bunton Waller Fellowship (Jones), PA State Beekeepers Association, Burgh Bees, Westmoreland Beekeepers Association, 2C’s and a Bee Beekeepers Association



 1. Clermont A, Eickermann M, Kraus F, Hoffmann L, Beyer M: Correlations between land covers and honey bee colony losses in a country with industrialized and rural regions. The Science of the total environment 2015, 532:1-13.

2. Kennedy CM, Lonsdorf E, Neel MC, Williams NM, Ricketts TH, Winfree R, Bommarco R, Brittain C, Burley AL, Cariveau D et al: A global quantitative synthesis of local and landscape effects on wild bee pollinators in agroecosystems. Ecol Lett 2013, 16(5):584-599.

3. Garibaldi LA, Steffan-Dewenter I, Winfree R, Aizen MA, Bommarco R, Cunningham SA, Kremen C, Carvalheiro LG, Harder LD, Afik O et al: Wild pollinators enhance fruit set of crops regardless of honey bee abundance. Science 2013, 339(6127):1608-1611.