Michigan’s Sentinel Apiary Project

Summer 2017 kicked off Michigan State University’s Sentinel Apiary program to take place across the state. The Sentinel Apiary program is a nationwide effort spearheaded by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) based in Maryland. 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.

This project aims to provide a resource for beekeepers that has information about nectar flow and honey bee diseases across the state. We will report on our management practices and use hive scales to track real time weight gain or loss and monthly disease assessments of Varroa and Nosema loads. The Michigan colonies will be located across the state to provide information on issues different parts of the state may be experiencing.

The goal of the program is to provide beekeepers with information on disease dynamics and bloom times throughout the state. We will also manage the bees using best management practices, explain what we need to do in each area, and troubleshoot any issues we encounter.

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 receive monthly varroa/ nosema, and disease assessments for all study hives. The hive scale data is automatically transmitted to an online server and the data is mapped to find trends in nectar flow. You can find Michigan, and other states on the BIP hive scales website.

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.