Project Apis m. has funded over $10 million dollars of honey bee research! This is a very notable feat for a grassroots, beekeeper supported, beekeeper directed non-profit organization that primarily supports applied research aimed at mitigating honey bee colony losses and improving honey bee health.
In recognition of this major milestone, Danielle Downey, Executive Director of Project Apis m., asked me to write about PAm from my perspective as a scientist and member of the scientific advisory board. This task proved more difficult that I thought since I began interacting with PAm after meeting Christi Heintz during my postdoc at UCSF almost 15 years ago! Those of you who knew Christi know that she was a passionate and highly motivated person. She helped fuel my desire to learn more about honey bees, encouraged me to always learn from expert commercial beekeepers, and helped ensure that my research directions are aimed at benefiting bees and beekeepers.
As a honey bee researcher and member of the scientific advisory team, I think major strengths of PAm include: (1) most of the funds are used to address questions and/or problems facing the beekeeping industry (i.e., practical/applied research), (2) some funding supports basic science, aimed at understanding the fundamentals of bee biology, (3) funding decisions are made by the PAm Board, which is primarily made up of commercial beekeepers, and (4) while the grant submission, review, and reporting processes are rigorous they are also streamlined to ensure funds can quickly be used to support bee research. I am a strong supporter and advocate for bee research and PAm.
PAm funding early in my career helped me establish a honey bee research lab at Montana State University and train (and hopefully inspire) the next generation of scientists, including two PAm scholarship recipients (Dr. Laura Brutcher and Dr. Alex McMenamin). Through PAm, I have had the opportunity to meet great people including commercial beekeepers, queen-breeders, small-scale beekeepers, extension specialists, members of state and local beekeeping organizations, the team at PAm, and scientists – including past and present members of the scientific advisory board, and grant recipients. In summary, when I think of PAm I think of honey bee research, but I also think of people. I am grateful for the community PAm represents. I started to list all your names, but that made my article double in length – so with a heart full of gratitude – I deleted your names and hope you know who you are. Thank you to PAm and the people that make PAm such an excellent organization, and congratulations to all on reaching this major milestone.