Spivak lab team
Distinguished McKnight Professor
Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. She and Gary Reuter bred a line of honey bees, the Minnesota Hygienic line, and are now initiating a new breeding program to select bees that can defend themselves against diseases and parasitic mites. Other current research includes studies of the benefits of plant resins (propolis) to honey bees, and the effects of agricultural landscapes and pesticides on bee health.
Marla's interest in bees began when she worked for a commercial beekeeper in New Mexico in 1975. She obtained her PhD from the University of Kansas in 1989 on the identification and ecology of Africanized and European honey bees in Costa Rica. She was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona before coming to the University of Minnesota in 1993.
A long time hobby beekeeper and trained in technology education, Gary began working with Marla when she moved to Minnesota in 1992. Without his hard work, the program would not be what it is today. He maintains the research colonies, helps train and work with students in the field, designs and builds specialty equipment and speaks to beekeeping, student and civic groups. He plans the Extension short courses and together with Marla teaches beginning as well as experienced beekeepers. His humorous style of teaching helps the classes stay interested and enthusiastic about a sometimes challenging subject. He is a past president of both Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association and Wisconsin Honey Producers Association and director of the American Beekeeping Federation, and remains active in these groups. He still finds time to mange his own colonies, while learning to blacksmith, maintaining an orchard, and helping his wife raise sheep. Gary's Home Page
Post-Doctoral researcher - Mentor: Dr Declan Schroeder
Jessica has been a beekeeper for almost a decade, after learning about the drivers of decline in pollinating insects she decided to embark upon a Wildlife and Practical Conservation BSc (Hons) at the University of Salford, Manchester, UK. Whilst studying her degree, she developed a passion for the diseases and pests affecting honey bees and was inspired by the work conducted by Prof. Stephen Martin. Upon completion of her degree she was accepted for a PhD position with Prof. Stephen Martin, titled; The role of resistance to Varroa destructor and Deformed wing virus in the European honey bee (Apis Mellifera). After successfully defending her PhD Jessica was offered a post-doc working within the Schroeder lab of molecular virology at the University of Minnesota, where she continues to study the viruses of honey bees and is currently working in collaboration with the bee lab.
Honey bee foraging preferences and interactions with restored native prairies
- B.A. Biological Sciences, with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, Wellesley College 2010.
- Masters degree, December 2013, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Advisor: Gene Robinson. Comparing reversal-learning abilities, sucrose responsiveness, and foraging experience in scout and non-scout honey bee (Apis mellifera) foragers.
Investigating how the honey bee mouth microbiome is affected by propolis within the colony and in cages.
- B.S. Cell and Molecular Biology - Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, 2016
Lex works primarily in the molecular lab helping the team research honeybee viruses. She graduated from the UMN in December 2019 with a Bachelors degree in Plant & Microbial Biology. During her undergraduate time, she worked on plant-pollinator interactions and fell in love with the native bees she was studying. Upon graduation, she joined the Spivak lab team and hopes to go on to pursue a Ph.D. within the next few years, but not before learning as much as she can while working in the Bee Lab.
Honey Bee Colony Manager
Spending time outdoors with my family. Breeding locally adapted strains of honey bees. Managing my own apiaries and developing sustainable beekeeping practices.
Education: BA in chemistry, Earlham College, Richmond, IN
Héctor is from Chiapas, Mexico. He comes from a beekeeping familiy that works with africanized bees. Before coming to The Bee Lab he was working as a teacher with indigenous youth in Chiapas.
- James Wolfin, MS August, 2019, "Measuring the abundance and diversity of bee pollinators in florally enhanced lawns. Currently Sustainable Landcare Manager: Turf Alternatives at Metro Blooms
- Katie Lee, PhD December 31, 2018, "Improving the health and survivorship of commercial honey bee colonies." Masters April 30, 2009, "A Practical Standardized Sampling Plan for Varroa destructor on Apis mellifera." Currently: Post-Doc, D. Cariveau, Dept. of Entomology, University of Minnesota.
Elaine Evans, PhD. December 30, 2016, “Land uses that support wild bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) communities within an agricultural matrix”, Masters January, 2001. “Competition between honey bees and bumblebees: effects on reproductive success of Bombus impatiens” Currently: Extension Educator, Bee Researcher, Captain of the Wild Bee Team for the Bee Squad, University of Minnesota
- Renata Borba, PhD. September 29, 2015, “Constitutive and therapeutic benefits of plant resins and a propolis envelope to honey bee, Apis mellifera L., immunity and health” Currently: Post-doc, L. Foster and S. Pernal, Univ British Columbia and Alberta, Canada.
- Judy Wu, PhD PhD. September 30, 2015. “Integrating science and policy: examining effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) and bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson) queens, worker bees, and colony development “ Currently: Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Dept. Entomology
- Matthew Smart, PhD. February 12, 2015. “The influence of mid-continent agricultural land use on the health and survival of commercially managed honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies.” Currently: Wildlife Biologist, USGS Jamestown, North Dakota
- Mike Goblirsch, PhD. October 2014. “The effects of Nosema ceranae on honey bee health” Currently, Post-doctoral researcher, Univ Minnesota
- Joel Gardner, Master’s (co-advised with R. Holzenthal) September 19, 2013, “A survey and historical comparison of the Megachilidae of Itasca State Park” Currently: Researcher, Surveying and Identifying Native Bees in MN for D. Cariveau and M. Spivak
- Michael Simone, PhD (EEB) September 14, 2010, “Colony-level immunity benefits and behavioral mechanisms of resin collection by honey bees” Currently, Research Scientist, USDA-ARS Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Jodi Swanson, Masters October 28, 2008 “Volatile compounds from chalkbrood infected larvae elicit honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) hygienic behavior” Currently, Wisconsin DNR, Aquatic Invasive Species.
- Abdullah Ibrahim, PhD September 9, 2005 “Honey bee mechanisms of resistance to diseases and the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor” Currently: Scientist: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Beaver Lodge, Alberta, CA with Dr. S Pernal.
- Katarzyna Goode, Masters August 30, 2005. “Olfactory sensitivity of hygienic honey bees” Currently, Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, Opthalmology and Visual Neurosciences Department, Medical School, Univ MN.
- Ian Burns, Ph.D.: October, 2004. “Social development and conflict in the North American bumblebee Bombus impatiens Cresson” Currently, Retired and part-time Bee Squad
- Angie Ambourn, Masters May 2004 (co-advised with Dr. J. Jezwik). “Relative of three insect vectors of Ceratocystis fagacearum (Bretz) Hunt in Minnesota.” Currently Entomologist, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Division- Pest Detection and Response
- Elaine Evans, Masters January, 2001. “Competition between honey bees and bumblebees: effects on reproductive success of Bombus impatiens” Currently, PhD Candidate
- Rebecca Masterman, Ph.D. February, 2000. “Neuroethology of hygienic behavior in honey bees, Apis mellifera” Currently, Capitan of the Bee Squad, UMN
- Dr. Mike Goblirsch, Post-doc, 2015-2019. Bee pathology, Studies on his AmE-711 honey bee cell line.
- Dr. Arathi Seshadri, Post-doc, 1998-2000. Ethology of Honey Bee Hygienic Behavior. Currently, Asst. Professor, Colorado State University
- Dr. Katia Gramacho, Post-doc, 2004. Olfactory Sensitivity of Hygienic Honey Bees. Currently, Professor, University Mossoro, Brasil.