Friday, March 4, 2016

Melissopalynology: The Study of Pollen in Honey

On February 27th, 2016, Dr. Jen O'Keefe gave a presentation at the Kentucky Northeastern Bee Keeping School about her unique work in typing honey. Melissopalynology is the study of pollen in honey. To examine pollen in honey you need training in botany with an emphasis on learning how to identify plants and pollen. You also need an understanding of entomology with an emphasis on honeybee ecology. Honey can vary depending on what pollen is being brought back to the hive and the time of year the honey is harvested. We often see clover honey or wildflower honey on a label, and you might wonder, how do they know the bees mostly visited clover? Typing honey is the only way to know definitively what flowers the bees are visiting the most. It can also be determined whether the bees are dumpster divers, consuming mostly corn syrup from left over sodas. In order to sell honey internationally, it has to be typed according to international laws. There are only 2 -3 laboratories in the U.S. that are typing honey, so it is unique that we have a Professor that is well trained on identifying the spores. The spores are often hard to discern from one another and without the knowledge of someone who has been trained in identifying the differences and specific techniques, we might not come up with the right results. Some might wonder what difference it makes to know the source; honey is honey, right honey? No, some honey might not be the sweet goodness you had hoped for. As I mentioned, it could be mostly corn syrup from dumpster diving. In one of Dr. O'Keefe's honey batches sampled, it was determined that the majority of the honey contained poison ivy pollen. The honey actually made her have an allergic reaction when she tasted the batch! Honey that contains a large amount of Rhododendron pollen can also have a toxic effect on humans. Dr. O'Keefe and other members of the Bee Campus USA committee believe it would be a worthwhile endeavor to offer a honey typing service in our region and involve students in the departments of agriculture and biology. We will be studying the viability of the idea and possibly pursuing grant funding for this service in the near future.

Proud to Bee - Bee Campus USA

We are very happy to announce that Morehead State University has been certified as a Bee Campus USA in March 2016. The MSU Sustainability Committee decided to pursue the certification after hearing about Southern Oregon Universities Bee Campus USA certification and their award for AASHE's Best Case Study Sustainability Reward. MSU has a history of supporting pollinators in our outdoor classroom behind Lappin Hall and the natural forested areas at Eagle Lake. The MSU Farm and Orchard already raised domesticated honey bees for crop pollination. We knew that we could do Much More to help out the pollinators that are struggling from loss of habitat, the use of pesticides, and other factors.

 The Bee Campus USA committee was formed in February of 2016 and is composed of faculty, staff, students and community members. We developed a pollinator protection plan which includes an integrated pest management (IPM) plan to minimize harm to pollinators in the event that our grounds keepers have to use pesticides on campus. We compiled a list of native plants on campus and a list of sources for native plants in Kentucky. In addition, we provided information and further resource links on invasive species that often crowd out the natural plants and habitats that exist for pollinators.

All this information can be located on the MSU Earthwise Eagle website at

The committee has planned several events to help inform and educate the campus community and surrounding area citizens about the importance of pollinator protection. We always welcome volunteers to help with our events. Please call Holly Niehoff at 606-783-2584 or April Haight at 606-783-2455 for more information.

Our upcoming events include the following:

March 22nd, 2016 - The Maysville Community & Technical College is hosting the 2nd annual Town & County Event at the Rowan County Senior High School. Dinner is served at 5:00 PM and workshop sessions begin at 6:45 PM. I will be handing out free tree seedlings for the Kentucky Tree Recovery Campaign while supplies last and information about pollinator protection. I will also give a workshop on pollinator protection and those attending the workshop will receive a free package of milkweed seeds to help save the monarchs.

March 30th, 2016 - 10:00 AM - ? Sustainability Day on the ADUC Lawn by the Little Bell Tower. We will celebrate our Tree Campus USA and Bee Campus USA status while handing out more tree seedlings and information on trees. Students will be encouraged to participate in "Chalk it Up" by using colored chalk to express their thoughts about the importance of bees and trees on the sidewalks. We are also planning a Bike with the President event for the afternoon and movie night with the Environmental Eagles in which we will show "Vanishing of the Bees."

April 1st, 2016 - 10:00 AM - ? Carbon Pocket Park Planting Event. We will be planting trees and native plants in the new outdoor classroom behind Normal Hall. The MSU Center for Environmental Education was awarded a Pride Education Grant that will be used to develop the Carbon Pocket Park. In addition to be a teaching area on how to mitigate the effects of climate change, it will support pollinator habitat and education about pollinator protection. The Earthwise Eagles were able to secure a $500 Pride Education Grant that will go towards a bench, teaching hive and a butterfly kit for the area. We will be installing a new sign that explains pollinator friendly practices and handing out more free tree seedlings at this location during the event.

April 16th, 2016 - 11:00 AM. The Earth Day Film Festival will take place at the Morehead Conference Center during the Kentucky Proud Expo event. The film festival will showcase the best short and long student films produced by our area young film makers. Conservation, Energy and Agriculture are the 3 themes for the student films. Students will be competing against peers at similar age levels for the best films and winners will receive cash prizes and certificates for their participation. After the students films are shown, we will show "The Vanishing of the Bees" and "The flight of the Monarchs" films. We will also be handing out the last of the free tree seedling at this event.

April 22nd - 24th, 2016 - We are planning an Earth Day cleanup at Lockegee. All supplies will be provided and volunteers will receive a special thank you gift for helping. Stay tuned for more information.

 Here are some pictures of students working the hives out at the farm!