Bee researcher targets fungal, mite problems

By Carol Stender

WAVERLY, Minn. -- Marla Spivak is stuck on bees.

The University of Minnesota researcher was a college student when she read about bees and their behavior and says she became hooked by bee behavior. The insects have been the focus of her research since.

Spivak bases her work on the bees' natural behavior. Originally the research was started in Ohio, but was dropped due to a lack of interest, she said. She became intrigued by the bees' ability to "smell" out disease and pests.


Her work at the University of Minnesota has centered on bee behavior to detect and remove fungal and mite problems in pupae and larvae before they infest entire hives. She's developed a hygienic line of bees, has given the queens to bee associations where they've auctioned the queens to producers.

The associations keep the auction proceeds and, in return, donate money to Spivak's research.

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