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A Case for Caterpillars

Gardens contain friends and foes. Often gardeners may not fully understand the long-term benefits of a perceived threat. One organism that usually walks, or rather crawls, along that fine line is the caterpillar.

A Quick Reference Guide to Honey Bee Parasites, Pests, Predators, and Diseases

Information about common honey bee maladies, including varroa mite, tracheal mite, bee louse, skunks, bears, foulbrood, and nosema.

Alcohol Wash for Varroa Mite Monitoring

An alcohol wash is the best method for monitoring Varroa mite populations in honey bee colonies.

An Introduction to Honey Bee Breeding Program Design

Evaluating colony performance and making informed selections of breeding stocks requires meticulous planning, rigorous record keeping, and regular inspections. Because honey bee queens naturally mate in flight with multiple males of unknown lineage, making controlled crosses requires specialized training and equipment. In this document, learn how to implement and evaluate a long-term honey bee breeding program.

An Introduction to Queen Honey Bee Development

The queen is the most important individual in a colony. She is the only bee capable of producing workers and tens of thousands of workers are required for strong colonies.

An Organic Management System for Honey Bees

Outlines the practices, treatments, and steps for managing honey bees using an organic management system.

Anise Hyssop for the Perennial Garden

Anise hyssop has been named the 2019 Herb of the Year™ by the International Herb Association. Learn about the characteristics and uses of this appealing native plant.

Attracting Hummingbirds

Learn about the many aspects of hummingbirds and how to attract them to your property.

a grid from a lesson plan

Bee-Healthy Farms

Grade Level: 3rd-5th Grade, Environmental Literacy

Overview: In this lesson, students will learn the importance of a healthy diet for living organisms. Students will learn about the importance of agriculture and how humans can affect food crops. Students will learn that the key role to a healthy agriculture is having a thriving population of pollinators. The class will hear stories from STEM-related careers in the agricultural industry and the importance of pollinators for our food. Students will gain knowledge and design their own pollinator garden. Students will choose different types of plants based on; native and non-native species, color, and growing season. Students will use math to measure their garden bed and will use formulas to find the area/perimeter of their garden bed. Students will be able to share the similarities and differences of their pollinator garden beds.

Beekeeping - Honey Bees

Honey bees can be managed to produce many products, but they are even more valued for the major role they play in pollination of agricultural crops.

Beekeeping Cell Builder Basics

Honey bee colony behavior is dynamic and extremely adaptable, which allows for easy manipulation and management of these amazing social insects.

Bees and Wasps: Foraging for Food in the Fall

In the fall, bees and wasps are on the hunt for sweets or carbohydrates, the primary energy source that keeps them flying and active for other routine activities.

Bees in Pennsylvania: Diversity, Ecology, and Importance

At least 437 species of bees contribute to pollinating Pennsylvania's natural areas, gardens, and agricultural crops. Learn more about how they are classified, their lifestyles, and how documenting bee species in Pennsylvania improves our knowledge about their populations and distributions.

Bug of the Month: Argyrotaenia velutinana

The June 2022 Bug of the Month is Argyrotaenia velutinana, the red-banded leaf roller.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

bumble bee fact sheet

Bug of the Month: Bombus bimaculatus

The February 2024 Bug of the Month is Bombus bimaculatus, the two-spotted bumble bee.

By Cody Feuerborn

Bug of the Month: Bombus impatiens

The July 2021 Bug of the Month is Bombus impatiens, the common eastern bumble bee.

By Francesca Ferguson and Anna Cressman

Bug of the Month: Cambarus bartonii

The September 2021 Bug of the Month is Cambarus bartonii, the common crayfish.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Coccinellidae species

The November 2022 Bug of the Month is Coccinellidae species, the lady beetles.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Corydalidae species

The August 2021 Bug of the Month is Corydalidae species, an aquatic insect called a hellgrammite.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Daktulosphaira vitifoliae

The August 2022 Bug of the Month is Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, the grape phylloxera.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Diapheromera femorata

The March 2022 Bug of the Month is Diapheromera femorata, the walkingstick.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Diplolepis bicolor

The November 2021 Bug of the Month is Diplolepis bicolor, the spiny rose gall wasp.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Enchenopa binotata

The January 2023 Bug of the Month is Enchenopa binotata, the two-marked treehopper.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Epeorus nymph species

The May 2021 Bug of the Month is Epeorus species, also known as flat-headed or cookie-headed mayfly.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Erythroneura species

The March 2023 Bug of the Month is Erythroneura species, grape leafhoppers.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Halyomorpha halys

The April 2023 Bug of the Month is Halyomorpha halys, the brown marmorated stink bug.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Kongsbergia species

The February 2022 Bug of the Month is Kongsbergia species, water mites.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Lampyridae species

The July 2022 Bug of the Month is Lampyridae species, fireflies.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Laphria flavicollis

The February 2021 Bug of the Month is Laphria flavicollis, a bumble bee mimic.

By Rachel McLaughlin

Bug of the Month: Lycorma delicatula

The May 2022 Bug of the Month is Lycorma delicatula, the spotted lanternfly.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Macrodactylus subspinosus

The October 2022 Bug of the Month is Macrodactylus subspinosus, the rose chafer.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Megachile pugnata

The December 2023 Bug of the Month is Megachile pugnata, the pugnacious leafcutting bee. By Orion Pizzini

bug of the month bee factsheet

Bug of the Month: Megachile rotundata

The January 2024 Bug of the Month is Megachile rotundata, the alfalfa leafcutting bee.

By Orion Pizzini

Bug of the Month: Otiorhynchus sulcatus

The December 2022 Bug of the Month is Otiorhynchus sulcatus, the black vine weevil.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Paralobesia vietana

The April 2022 Bug of the Month is Paralobesia vietana, the grape berry moth.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Popillia japonica

The September 2022 Bug of the Month is Popillia japonica, the Japanese beetle.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Psephenus species

The June 2021 Bug of the Month is Psephenus species, or water penny.

By Francesca Ferguson

Bug of the Month: Pseudococcus maritimus

The February 2023 Bug of the Month is Pseudococcus maritimus, the grape mealybug.

By Laura Laiton Jimenez

Bug of the Month: Rhyacophila species

The December 2021 Bug of the Month is Rhyacophila species, green caddisflies.

By Francesca Ferguson

Buttonbush: The Native, Moisture-Loving Shrub

Buttonbush can be grown as a shrub or small tree. Its fragrant flowers are a magnet for pollinators.

Common Social Bees and Wasps of Pennsylvania Behavior, Lifecycle, and Management

Social organisms live together in groups and interact with others of the same species; humans, wolves, and several species of bees and wasps are examples of social organisms.

Conserving Wild Bees in Pennsylvania

Wild bees, which include native and naturalized bees, pollinate a variety of crops. In areas of Pennsylvania, wild bees already provide the majority of pollination for some summer vegetable crops.

Cucumber Pollination

Cucumbers are native to Asia but are currently grown around the globe.

Darwin's Orchid

Grade Level: Fourth Grade, Life Sciences

Overview: Students will learn about the importance of studying plant structures to understand how it grows. Students will learn the study of plants, Botany. The class will learn about the naturalist, Charles Darwin and his study of the Star Orchid. They will learn that Darwin was able to determine that the only pollinator able to drink nectar from this plant was the Wallace’s Sphinx Moth, known for its extremely long tongue. Darwin was able to predict this pollinator by investigating in a flower dissection of the Star Orchid. Students will model similar duties of a botanist by investigating in their own flower dissection. In a science journal, students will illustrate, label, and describe their given flower. Students will also predict what possible pollinator(s) would visit their flower based on the plant’s internal and external structures.

Delay Garden Cleanup to Benefit Overwintering Insects

You can support butterflies, moths, bees and other desirable insects by delaying your garden cleanup until spring. Learn simple ways to encourage overwintering insects and how to time spring cleanup.

DIY Plant Fossils

Grade Level: Third Grade, Life Sciences

Overview: Students will learn about the study of fossils, Paleontology. Students will learn how analyzing fossils helps scientists understand what Earth was like thousands of years ago, including plant life. Students will then study about fossils using real plant trace fossils. The teacher will then guide students outside and they will have to choose a native plant and make a trace fossil using a guided recipe. Students will use a science journal to illustrate and write scientific descriptions of fossils based on the trace fossils created from their peers. The class will have to analyze the fossils to provide evidence of the local environment in which they live.

Eastern Redbuds Support Early Pollinators

Not only beautiful, Eastern redbuds' flowers provide some of the earliest spring nectar for native bees and honeybees.

Enfermedades de la Abeja de Miel Loque Americana

La loque americana únicamente afecta a las larvas de la abeja de miel, debilita a la colonial y provocando rápidamente su muerte.

Enfermedades de la Abeja de Miel: Loque Americana

La loque americana únicamente afecta a las larvas de la abeja de miel, debilita a la colonial y provocando rápidamente su muerte.

Fall Garden Care for Pollinators

This article discusses the beneficial pollinators that overwinter in the garden and best practices for providing habitat for them.

Fall-Migrating Monarchs

The monarch butterfly is known for its long migration journey to Mexico. You can help support monarch populations by adding host plants and nectar sources to your garden.

Feeding the Flower Flies: How to Attract Flies to Your Garden

Though flies may have a bad reputation, many are actually beneficial pollinators. Find out more about flower flies and the plants and gardening practices that will nurture them.

Five-Step Decision Support: Nesting Bees and Wasps Near Homes

There are a number of insects in Pennsylvania that can sting. When these insects take up residence near our homes, conflicts can arise. What to do when bees and wasps are nesting in or near the home?

Flowering Cover Crops for Native Pollinating Bee Conservation

Conservation strategies that can be employed across your farm or in your garden to help maintain healthy native bee populations.

From Bee to Pie

Grade: First & Second Grade, Environmental Literacy

Overview: In this lesson, students will learn about the importance of agriculture in the state of Pennsylvania. In particular, they will learn about apple orchards and the key role pollinators play in the reproduction of apples. Students will learn the process from apple blossom to fruit to harvest to distribution to table. Students will then get to make their own apple pie cup using math fractions to demonstrate measurement skills. Finally, Students will get to enjoy their yummy treat while learning about the human impact in agriculture.

Screenshot of a video game with blue sky gradient background, a cartoon bee, and the title Pollinator Panic

Game Instructions: Pollinator Panic!

Follow these instructions to play Pollinator Panic! An online strategy game that allows a player to assume the role of a field researcher who is working to restore a bee community.

Screenshot of a video game with blue sky gradient background, a cartoon bee, and the title Pollinator Panic

Game: Pollinator Panic!

An online strategy game that allows a player to assume the role of a field researcher who is working to restore a bee community.

Gardening for Butterflies

Learn about the butterfly life cycle, and how to manage your garden to attract butterflies.

Hive Protection Bear Fence Design

Protecting honey bee hives from wildlife is sometimes necessary.

Honey Bee Diseases American Foulbrood

American foulbrood only attacks honey bee larvae, weakening the colony and quickly leading to its death.

Honey Bee Management Throughout the Seasons

The honey bee colony lifestyle is closely linked to the seasons when the availability of flowering plants, temperature, and precipitation vary dramatically.

Photo of a completed bee hotel project

How to Construct a Bee Hotel

A step-by-step guide for how to build your own bee hotel, complete with templates!

I am a Citizen Scientist!

Grave Level: K-5th grade, Environmental Literacy & Technology

Overview: Students will learn what it means to be a citizen scientist. Students will learn about the process of making observations, collecting & recording data, and sharing data to the science community. The teacher will guide students to a designated area outside of the classroom. Students can work independently or in small groups to observe a pollinator or plant. Students will use the guided worksheet to complete the data collecting process. Students will then take their work and upload it to the kid-friendly open source data app, Seek by iNaturalist. Students will then work together to share their data with the class.

Screenshot of the pollinating insects guide

Identifying and Observing Pollinating Insects in PA

Use this two-page guide to identify common Pennsylvania pollinators, many of which look similar to each other. Page one provides key features to differentiate bees, flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies, moths, and skippers. Page two explains differences between different types of bees.

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans)

Jacob’s ladder supports pollinators with late spring blooms and makes an attractive groundcover after flowers fade. A native pollinator plants, it thrives in partial shade.

Landscaping for Wildlife: Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

Guidelines for selecting woody plants such as trees, shrubs, and vines and designing your landscape with the goal of providing wildlife habitat.

Lesser Calamint, the Beautiful Mint

Lesser calamint is a laid back, dependable performer in the perennial garden. Its profuse, long-lasting flowers are magnets for pollinators.

Life on Milkweed

Who lives on milkweed? There is a bustling community of insects waiting to be discovered, each with their own survival superpowers!

Life on Milkweed was created by Heather Frantz and Lilly Germeroth. Illustrations produced by Michael Hill.

Photo of a completed bee hotel project

Managing Your Bee Hotel

Maintaining a standard of cleanliness in your bee hotels is essential for the health and longevity of your nesting bees. This trifold introduces the best practices for owning a bee hotel.

Match That Pollinator

Grade Level: Third Grade, Life Sciences
Fifth Grade, Math- Measurements

Overview: Students will learn about the correlation between plants and pollinators. Students will review how plant growth is dependent on visiting animals and insects such as bees, beetles, hummingbirds, butterflies, and etc to pollinate. But just like humans, pollinators do enjoy the nectar from certain types of plants. Students will investigate and measure different pollinator’s structures to predict what types of plants these pollinators collect nectar and/or pollen from. During the activity, students will model similar roles of an Entomologist. Scientists who study insects and the importance of pollination for species to thrive. Overall, students will gain knowledge of how both plants and animals need each other to survive in regards to food and reproduction.

Methods to Control Varroa Mites: An Integrated Pest Management Approach

Varroa mites (Varroa destructor), are the most influential of all of the pests and diseases of the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) today.

Métodos para el control de Varroa destructor un enfoque de manejo integrado de plagas

El parásito Varroa destructor es actualmente la plaga más importante de la abeja de miel occidental (Apis mellifera).

ladybug on milkweed flowers

Milkweed Isn't Only for Monarchs

A glimpse into the bustling milkweed insect community.

Monarchs and Milkweed

Milkweed and monarch butterflies have an intrinsic connection. Learn the benefits of growing milkweed and about several varieties that you might grow in your garden.

Orchard IPM - Integrating Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Our job in integrated pest management (IPM) is to make sure that if a pesticide is to be used, its benefits outweigh the undesirable side effects.

Orchard IPM - Protecting Honey Bees

European honey bees are the primary managed pollinators in orchards because their abundance can be managed from year to year.

Orchard Pollination: Honey Bees

European honey bees are the primary managed pollinators in orchards because their abundance can be managed from year to year.

Orchard Pollination: Pollinizers, Pollinators and Weather

Pollination involves the integration of several biological and physical factors, including cultivar compatibility, synchronous blooming, insects, and proper weather conditions.

Orchard Pollination: Solitary (Mason) Bees

Growers of bee-pollinated crops, particularly apples, may be interested in the possible use of solitary bees as pollinators.

Orchard Pollination: Strategies for Maintaining Pollination Services in Tree Fruit

Apple, pear, and sweet cherry trees, unlike peaches, apricots and tart cherries, need cross pollination.

Orchard Pollination: Wild Bees

Managed pollinators like honey bees and mason bees are important pollinators for orchards, but research suggests that wild bees also contribute significantly to fruit tree pollination.

First page of a technical paper entitled Integrated pest and pollinator management — adding a new dimension to an accepted paradigm.

Overview of IPPM Approach

Overview of utilizing integrated pest and pollinator management (IPPM) to achieve both pest management and pollinator protection.

Document cover featuring white flowers with a bee on one of the petals. Title of the document reads 2022-2023 Penn State Tree Fruit Production Guide

Penn State Tree Fruit Production Guide

The most up-to-date information on growing tree fruit on a commercial scale. Revised information and a refreshed look for 2022.

Pesticidas y la Salud de los Polinizadores

Penn State está a la vanguardia en asuntos relacionados con la salud de los polinizadores.

Pesticides and Pollinators

Researchers believe that long-term honey bee declines are a result of a complex set of factors.

Plant-Pollinator Interactions cover page, image of a bee on a flower

Plant Pollinator Interactions Lesson Plan

This lesson plan guides students to understand plant-pollinator interactions. Students will be able to recognize the mechanisms governing pollinator attraction to floral types and understand how plant-pollinator mutualisms may have contributed to species diversification through co-evolution.

Planting Pollinator-Friendly Gardens

One of the most important ways you can help pollinators is by provisioning your yard with plants that provide pollen and nectar. To attract butterflies, you will also need to include a variety of larval host plants for caterpillars to eat.

Plants for Bees

Beloved residents in our gardens, bees are the most effective pollinators. Pennsylvania is home to 437 species and there are at least 4,000 species of bees in the United States representing six of the seven families.

This pocket guide has a list of garden plants beneficial for bees.

Plants for Flies

The importance of flies as pollinators should not be underestimated. In fact, flies are the second most important pollinators after bees. They have been reported to visit flowers of 172 plant families and this is likely to be a conservative figure.

This pocket guide has a list of garden plants beneficial for pollinating flies.

Plants for Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds do not feed on pollen like bees. However, hummingbirds inadvertently collect pollen on their head feathers as they drink nectar from tubular flowers. In this way they are the best bird pollinators of the New World.

This pocket guide has a list of garden plants beneficial for hummingbirds.

Pocket Field Guide to Night Singing Insects of Pennsylvania

The sounds of insects during summer nights in Pennsylvania are abundant. The chirping of crickets, singing of katydids, and buzzing of coneheads fill the outdoors- from forests to neighborhoods.

Explore the night singing insects of Pennsylvania with this pocket field guide.

Polinización de Pepino

Los pepinos son nativos de Asia, pero actualmente se cultivan en todo el mundo.

Polinización Integrada de Cultivos de Calabazas

El género Cucurbita contiene distintas especies de calabaza (también conocidas como: calabaceras, calabacines o zapallos). En los Estados Unidos, las plantas de calabaza son comunes en granjas y jardines en todo el país.

Pollen Microscopy Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will discover the intricacies of pollen morphology through field observation and sampling skills.

Pollination and Pollinators

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anthers of a flower to the stigma of the same flower or another flower. The result is the production of fertile seeds.

Pollination of Blueberry Crops in Pennsylvania

Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) is a high-value and economically important fruit crop native to Pennsylvania and Eastern North America. Nationally, the total value of the blueberry crop was $797 million in 2018 (USDA NASS).

Pollinator Declines

Domestic honey bees hives are down by 59% compared to 60 years ago with rapid declines over the last forty years. The populations of some native bee species may also be declining.

Pollinator Health and Pesticides

As a general rule, insecticides are more toxic to pollinators than fungicides and herbicides, but not all insecticides are toxic to pollinators.

Pollinator Relay

Grade Level: Second Grade, Life Sciences

Overview: In this lesson, students will learn how honey bees pollinate flowers. Students will also learn how different types of flowers have unique blends of pollen nutrition. Pollen provides bees with a blend of protein and lipids. Just like humans, our food sources are full of nutrients and give us energy throughout the day. Students will demonstrate understanding of bee pollination by embodying honeybees. The teacher will guide students outside to model bee pollination by playing the game, Pollinator Relay. Students will act as a colony of bees in beehives. There will be flower buckets acting as a cluster of different types of flowers. Each bucket will be full of pollen balls, (ping pong balls). The flower buckets will be located around the beehive. One bee at a time will leave the hive to collect pollen. The goal is for students to work together and to collect as much pollen as possible. Students will also receive “extra pollen points” when collecting different types of pollen that are enriched with high protein.

Pollinator Symmetry

Grade Level: Fourth Grade, Life Sciences

Overview: In this lesson, students will learn about the key role of bilateral symmetry in pollinators and flowers. Research scientists have observed the phenomenon of pollinator attraction to the color and to symmetrical appearance of plants. In fact, many animals and insects are symmetrical. This symmetry is important to the reproduction and survival of plants. Students will take this given knowledge and create bilateral symmetrical pollinators. Students will have to draw the mirror image by using mathematical shapes and lines. Students will then use a method of painting and folding to create a symmetrical insect and/or flower.

Pollinators and Pesticide Sprays during Bloom in Fruit Plantings

Use of pesticides during bloom is a complicated problem with the solutions relying on understanding the detailed relationships among chemicals, pollinators and pest management needs.

Pumpkins and Squash: What Are Their Pollination Needs?

Pumpkin and squash (genus Cucurbita) are crops grown on 7,300 acres in Pennsylvania with an estimated value of over $22M annually (USDA NASS 2021).

Queen Cell Production Grafting and Graft-Free Methods

Queen production allows beekeepers greater autonomy and independence, enabling individuals to better meet the goals of honey production, pollination, colony production, and genetic selection.

Rattlesnake Master is a Great Pollinator Plant

Though its name and appearance are a bit unusual, rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) is an attractive and pollinator-friendly choice for the home garden.

Spice Up Your Garden with Spicebush

Searching for a shrub that can perform one or a multitude of functions in your yard? Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) might be the shrub you have been looking for.

Spotted Lanternflies and Beekeeping

The spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an introduced plant hopper from China that is rapidly expanding its range in the United States.

Spring Bees: Who Are They and Where Do They Live?

While spring is the beginning of the beekeeping season, early blooming plants not only feed honey bees but also hundreds of native solitary bee species that emerge at around the same time.

Spring Ephemerals for Residential Gardens

In this article learn about the benefits of spring ephemerals and ways to incorporate them into your garden.

Strawberry Pollination: a Complex and Tricky Business

Next time you purchase strawberries from a grocery store or local grower/roadside stand, closely inspect one before you chomp down on it. What makes that berry so attractive to eat?

Syrphid Flies: Interesting Allies in Floriculture

Syrphid flies are one of the more interesting groups of Diptera that inhabit Pennsylvania.

The Bug of the Month: Melanoplus differentialis

The January 2022 Bug of the Month is Melanoplus differentialis, the differential grasshopper.

By Francesca Ferguson

The Bug of the Month: Tipula species

The October 2021 Bug of the Month is Tipula species, common craneflies.

By Francesca Ferguson

The Bumble Bee Lifestyle

Bumble bees are essential insects that pollinate many of the of the fruits, nuts and seeds we eat every day.

The Eastern Carpenter Bee: Beneficial Pollinator or Unwelcome Houseguest

The eastern carpenter bee, Xylocopa virginica, is a native pollinator found throughout eastern North America, as far south as Florida and Texas and north into Maine and southern Canada.

The Emerald Trap

Grade Level: K-2nd Grade, (Environmental Literacy)

Overview: Students will learn about the invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer, E.A.B.. Students will learn how this invasive species is responsible for the deconstruction of millions of ash trees, a key plant in Pennsylvania’s ecosystem. Students will learn of different ways to protect our ecosystem from this invasive species. Students will then make a Emerald Ash Borer decoy and design a trap to collect this specimen. Students will observe and collect data on their traps. Finally the class will have a discussion on possible variables and solutions to control this science experiment for future testing. For best trap results, a prism trap up in the tree is best. (Information on “best” traps is located in teacher resource videos.) The goal of this activity is not to collect the most E.A.B. but rather having students critically think and practice by making their own designs and finding solutions. Students should be given the opportunity to discuss and make their “ideal” trap.

The Flight of the Monarch

Grave Level: K-2nd, (Environmental Literacy) & Focus on 1st grade.

Overview: Students will learn about the Monarch butterfly's great winter migration to central Mexico. Scientists have studied over the years the phenomenon of these amazing pollinators migrating to the same location every year. It takes two to three generations of monarch butterflies to migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. up to Canada. When returning later in the year, the monarchs develop a 'Super Generation' to make the longest leg of the journey southward, for the winter migration. Students will learn how Monarch Butterflies are able to migrate south not due to parent trait but rather a natural compass internal within their body. Students will design a monarch butterfly and insert a compass. The class will learn what a compass is and how to use one to help navigate. The teacher will then guide students outside to model as the butterfly, navigating south and then north. Students will use the compass to direct its Monarch butterfly to migrate. Overall, the class as a whole will move in the same direction similar to Monarch butterflies moving to the same direction to migrate.

The Million Dollar Fly

Grade Level: 3rd-5th grade, (Environmental Literacy) focus on 5th grade

Overview: Students will learn about the term invasive and endangered species. Students will learn about The Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive species that is destroying Pennsylvania’s agriculture and ecosystem. The class will gain knowledge on the negative impacts this species has caused to Pennsylvania agriculture in grapes, apples, and the hardwood industries. Students will also learn why it is crucial for STEM-related careers in agriculture to create solutions to control this state environmental issue. Students will study and design “Wanted Bug” flyers to promote awareness to the community. Students will also plant milkweed within their community as a natural way to control the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly and promote growth with the endangered species, the Monarch Butterfly. Students will see the importance of having a balanced ecosystem.

The Shape of Wings

Grade Level: First Grade, Life Sciences

Overview: Students will learn about the Monarch Butterfly and their amazing wings. This species uses its wings to not only travel but as well as protect itself from predators. The bright orange and district black shapes on the wings are to warn predators not to “eat me”. These wings are actually poisonous to digest and even though they have a beautiful appearance, is a physical attribute to warn others. The most important key role of these wings are the natural engineering design for the ability to travel far. Given the ability to fly thousands of miles to migrate, the Monarch’s large and flexible wings give them a burst of propulsion. Students will learn how research scientists have discovered that these wings "clap" together, squeezing out the air between with such force that it thrusts them forward. Students will gain knowledge of these wings and create their own Monarch butterfly model. Students will design wings using shapes and color. Then students will take their designed wings and taped them onto a balloon. Students will model the “clapping” motion by pushing down on the top center of the balloon, between the wings. Students will observe their designed wings “clapping” back and forth, similar to the Monarch when flying. Finally, students will learn that humans have studied structures of animals to mimic similar movement in many man-made inventions such as cars, airplanes, and boats.

The Waggle Dance

Grade Level: Third Grade & Fourth Grade, Life Science

Overview: Students will learn about the importance of communication among species, focusing on the dwarf honey bee, Apis florea. Students will learn about the Waggle Dance, a way for bees to inform and receive information about new food sources. Students will also learn about the importance of collecting pollen and nectar as a food source for the whole hive. Students will participate in modeling this process through embodiment. As teams, students will act as worker bees in a hive. Students will have to work together and dance as a form of communication to explain where the local food sources are. Students will model similar movements bees use when demonstrating the Waggle Dance. Students will also receive time to discuss and reflect on ways to improve communication within their own hive.

frame of honey comb with bees

Video: Beekeeping in Autumn

As flowers fade and temperatures fall, we inspect our honey bee hives and prepare them for winter. Proper management greatly increases a colony’s chance of survival. At The Arboretum of Penn State, we manage three honey bee colonies.

What is it like to inspect a honey bee hive? Undergraduate student Kaleena Czajkowski shares her experience beekeeping for the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research.

Video: How to Capture Bees with Nets for Bee Monitoring Programs

In this video, Nash Turley shows techniques for catching bees using handheld insect net and getting bees into collection jars. This video is intended for participants in official bee monitoring programs where all bees will be properly pinned, labeled, identified, and stored in insect collections. Bees should NOT be collected and killed for fun or as a hobby, only for scientific purposes.

Video: How to Use a Stereo Microscope to Observe Insects

In this video, Michael Skvarla from Penn State University answers questions about using stereo microscopes (also called dissecting microscopes) for observing insects

Video: How to Use Blue Vane Traps to Monitor Bees

Blue vane traps are used to passive collect bees and other flower-visiting insects. In this video, Nash Turley leads a quick tutorial on deploying blue vane traps in the field including putting them together, hanging them up, and adding soapy water. Then after they've been left in the field for a day it is time to filter out the bees with a brine shrimp net and put the specimens in a jar with alcohol, don't forget a proper label!

Video: How to Use Bowl Traps to Monitor Bees

Bee bowls, or colored pan traps, are a passive trap method for collecting flower visiting insects. In this video, Nash Turley gives a tutorial on how to deploy blue, white, and yellow traps, including where to place them and how far apart. Then on to picking them up, it's pretty straightforward, strain out the bugs, and don't forget a label!

Video: How to Wash and Dry Bees with the Bee Drying Vortex!

Bee specimens are often covered in pollen and have matted hairs. Both of these can make them difficult to identify. To get the most beautiful specimens that are easy to identify it is necessary to wash and dry them so they are clean with fluffy hairs. In this video, Nash Turley leads a tutorial for a cheap DIY methods for drying bees with minimal equipment, primarily a jar with a screen top and a hair dryer.

Video: Pinning Bees Tutorial

This is an informal video introduction to pinning bees, and insects in general. Nash Turley explains what supplies are needed, the basics of pinning, setting the proper heights using a pinning block, and a little bit about manipulating specimens so they look nice. There's also a quick overview of pointing insects at the end.

Viruses in Honey Bees

Honey bees are infected with many different kinds of viruses. However, most virus infections are not problematic, if the honey bee colony is healthy and does not experience chronic stress.

Instrumentally Inseminated Honey Bee Queen and Her Retinue

Webinar: The Making of a Queen

Presented by the NY Bee Wellness Workshops, speaker Kate Anton discusses queen biology and rearing, colony dynamics, data collection, selection, breeding and mating.

Kate Anton is a beekeeper, EPIQ instructor, and lab technician for the Grozinger Lab at Penn State University.

What Can We Do to Encourage Native Bees?

Pollinators need a diverse, abundant food source and a place to build their nests and rear their young. If we keep these two elements in mind we can encourage native bee populations.

Bee sitting on flowering goldenrod

What is a pollinator?

Every plant that flowers requires pollination to reproduce. Learn what a pollinator is and why they are so important to our ecosystem.

What is a Pollinator? 3-5

What is a pollinator? Use this reading passage, intended for grades 3rd-5th to introduce the subject of pollinators and pollination to young learners.

What is a Pollinator? K-2

What is a pollinator? Use this reading passage, intended for grades K-2nd to introduce the subject of pollinators and pollination to young learners.

Where in the World is R.T. Hummingbird?

Grade Level: Second Grade, Life Sciences

Overview: In this lesson, students will learn about the Pennsylvania state hummingbird, The Ruby-Throated (R.T.) Hummingbird. Students will learn how this special hummingbird is a natural pollinator and its amazing annual journey through the United States. Students will work together to discover this pollinator’s migration route through North America. Students will receive 5 diary passengers written from R.T. Hummingbird who is migrating north for the summer months. Each diary passage has geological context clues. Students will use the clues and a physical region map as a key to help guide them into finding the correct 5 locations. Students will then connect the 5 location spots to observe the northern migration route of the R.T. Hummingbird. Students will also learn about different types of flowering plants that grow due to an environment and how animals adapt to change.

Who are Our Pollinators?

Approximately three quarters of our major food crops are pollinated. Here we will look at how wild bees provide insurance against ongoing honey bee losses.

Who Pollinates Pennsylvania Blueberry Plants?

Blueberries (genus Vaccinium) are a high-value crop in Pennsylvania and the United States, with an estimated value of at least $825 million to the US economy in 2014.

Why Use Native Plants?

This article explains what native plants are, their benefits, and where to acquire them. It also includes tips on how to use native plants in the home garden.

Wild Bees for Pennsylvania Cucurbits

In addition to honey bees, which are managed, various un-managed species that exist as wild populations play key roles in providing pollination of cucurbit crops.

Will bees like it here? Data Collection Worksheet

Use this worksheet to collect data for the lesson plan "Will Bees Like it Here?"

Will bees like it here? Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will evaluate two habitats for nesting and floral resources for wild bees and compare their evaluations to observed pollinator activity. Students will participate in collecting and recording data after hypothesizing habitat quality based upon the number of pollinators and pollinator diversity. Students will communicate the results of the investigation to their peers.