The VBA Board of Directors is seeking membership approval at the upcoming Winter meeting of a proposal from UVM student, Brianna Borch, to conduct a study titled, “Identifying Key Pollen and Nectar Resources for Vermont Honey Bees” with the outcomes summarized below.

This study will identify which plant species are most important to honeybees for pollen and nectar production at different times of the year. These findings will inform land-use decisions made by both beekeepers and other residents of the state aiming to improve the health of honeybees as well as the livelihoods of beekeepers. By understanding which plants are most important to honeybees as well as which plants contribute most to honey yield, land-use decisions that protect and amplify these types of plants can be made. Beekeepers may also use these findings to decide where to locate future apiaries, as well as to more accurately label their honey as coming from specific plant sources.

Brianna prepared a budget for this work which the VBA Board of Directors has reviewed. Brianna is seeking financial support for her UVM undergraduate research award for this project. That award provides undergraduates with grants for research expenses and a small summer stipend. Brianna reached out to the VBA to ask for funding support for supplies and sample processing. The total budget for the project is $7,777 to be mostly funded by a grant from UVM except for $2,777 which she is requesting from the VBA to assist with this work. The project would run from May 2021 through September 2021. 

The VBA Board voted unanimously to support the project up to $2,777 as reduced by the cost of equipment that can be loaned to the project by beekeepers. The Board expressed strong interest in this project. It is consistent with our Long-Range Plan goals Part A – Education sections 2 and 3.

Some beekeepers have volunteered to provide pollen traps and a hand extractor that she may borrow for the summer. The financial request from the VBA that will be presented to VBA members at the Winter meeting will be reduced accordingly.

The Board of Directors believes this is a groundbreaking project. Looking to the future, grants should be sought to expand the scope of this study to be representative of major plant communities across the State using the experience gained from this initial study. The results from this and subsequent Pollinator Forage Management studies will be pivotal in an educational campaign to support decision-making by landowners, land managers, silviculturists, foresters, farmers, and homeowners.