The Boise State Bee Team is at it again. School is out and it’s now vacation time – “edu-vacation” time, that is. The Bee Team took an educational vacation up to the Palouse region of Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington to visit Washington State University’s amazing beekeeping research program. We were so impressed and appreciative of Dr. Brandon Hopkins and his research team for letting us shadow them for two days during a busy time of year.

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Our team of eight Bee Teamers drove up north and were immediately put to work with Brandon’s team. No rest for the wicked. We dove right in, assisting them with some hive work at one of the apiary sights in Moscow, ID.

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We were first tasked with helping their team quickly inspect hives to find the queen in each colony. Our Bee Teamers learned how to mark queens with paint pens, making them much easier to find during subsequent inspections. The video below shows Brandon marking a queen, making it look easy. However, our Bee Teamers learned that it can actually be quite intimidating to grab a moving insect, especially one as valuable as the queen, and gently handle her in one hand while marking her with a paint pen in the other hand.

With practice, the Bee Team students were more able to find the queen in hives and built up their confidence marking them by practicing on worker bees. One of our students, Sandra, spotted a queen bee on the veil of one of the WSU staff! We didn’t believe her at first when she yelled out, “The queen is on your veil!” as queen bees are almost always found in the hive on a frame of brood. But, sure enough, Sandra was right! Once again proving that there are no rules in beekeeping. Sandra was the MVP that day! Only a few stings occurred, but it was a small price to pay for the knowledge and experience gained!

Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!