By , on July 5th, 2017

Michigan’s Sentinel Apiary Project Kicks Off

Michigan State University Extension starts a honey bee hive health monitoring throughout the state.  Follow the hives as we monitor and report challenges facing bees and beekeepers across the state of Michigan

Sarah Scott and Meghan Milbrath, Michigan State University Extension

The summer of 2017 kicks off Michigan State University’s Sentinel Apiary program, a honey bee health monitoring program that is taking place across the state. The Sentinel Apiary program is a nationwide effort spearheaded by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP). The program has been running since 2015 and continues to add new participants. Michigan is one of more than a dozen states participating in the project, all which can be seen on the BIP Sentinel Apiary Project scale map.

So what exactly is a sentinel apiary?

Sentinel apiaries monitor honey bee hive health in real-time using hive scales to track colony weight gain and loss over time, and disease monitoring to assess hive pests and pathogens. The hive scale data is automatically transmitted to an online server and the data is mapped to find trends in nectar flow. You can view hive scale data and health results here.

The goal of the program is to monitor food availability and disease dynamics throughout the state, providing beekeepers with key information on honey bee health factors in their area.  Furthermore, we will manage the colonies using best management practices, so that beekeepers can follow their care, and see how we troubleshoot any issues that arise.  The Sentinel Apiary program will allow data-driven best management practices to be developed for beekeepers across the state and country that are specific to each region. For more information, check out the Bee Informed Partnership website.

Who is involved?

Michigan State University is partnering with the Bee Informed Partnership and the University of Maryland for the project. We are also partnering with individuals across the state who are maintaining their own sentinel apiaries, located in Flint, Westchester Heights, and the Grand Rapids area to obtain additional hive scale data. Beekeepers interested in joining the Sentinel Apiary Project can join through contacting the BIP directly for more information.

Where are the Sentinel hives in Michigan?

Michigan State will be monitoring four Sentinel apiary locations across the state:

  • Central Michigan- Lansing
  • Southwest Michigan- Benton Harbor
  • Northwest Michigan- Traverse City
  • The Upper Peninsula- Chatham

Ways to stay up to date

We will be maintaining the Michigan Sentinel Apiary blog with updates on how the hives are doing at each location, what is in bloom in each area, any treatments the bees are receiving, along with other relevant information on beekeeping. You can also sign up for the Michigan Beekeepers Association mailing list and newsletter on the MBA website to get updates on the project. Follow the hives on Instagram at MISentinelApiary. Tune in to see how the ladies are doing!


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