Probiotics for honeybees

HivesWarmColorsEarlier this year, while reporting a story about the bugs in the bees — that is, the microbiome in bees’ guts — I spoke to a USDA researcher named Jay Evans, who described some work in his lab testing whether feeding bees probiotics can help protect against pathogens that weaken hive health. That sounded like a good story to me, and I had a chance to pursue it for the Center for a Livable Future, a Johns Hopkins institute focused on food systems policy. For the past few months CLF has been running a series of stories by science journalists across  the country, and I was excited to contribute to it with this piece. 

The story digs into a research collaboration between USDA scientists and Grant Hicks, a commercial beekeeper in Alberta, Canada. I hadn’t realized that beekeeping is a somewhat geographically constrained activity, and that Hicks is way north of the usual beekeeping zone. One big pleasure in reporting this piece was taking my 4-year-old son with me for the first time on a reporting trip. We went to chat with Dan Conlon, owner of Warm Colors Apiary in Deerfield, about bee husbandry,  and then took some time to wander around the lush farm and watch Dan’s assistant tend the hives. And in writing the piece, I got to follow a rarely-cited yet powerful adage in journalism: “When possible, end on a poop-note.”

[Read the story at Center for a Livabe Future // October 23, 2015]

**Image credit: me!