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Bees

Winter 2005

A Sweet Buzz: Honey

Entomologist Steve Sheppard has never gotten over his wonder at how people came to raise swarms of stinging insects for the honey they produce.

“To see this guy dumping out thousands of bees to collect honey from their hive. . .” He shakes his head. “It’s amazing that humans ever figured it out to do that.”

But the Washington State University associate professor, who not only keeps bees himself, but unflinchingly opens beehives with his bare hands, understands the passion for honey.

People prize it as a delicacy and demand it as a staple. They cherish some honeys for their color and admire others for … » More …

Video: A Buzz about Bees

Walter (Steve) Sheppard is one busy man, flying his own plane around the Pacific Northwest to meet with beekeepers and deliver queen-breeding stock produced in his honey bee breeding program to beekeeper collaborators. He also travels to countries such as Kazakhstan to study populations of honey bees from wild apple forests that have the potential to be added to Washington State University breeding stock. Over the years, he and his students have bred bees to resist parasites and diseases, produce more honey, and survive harsh winters better than their ancestors. He’s even bred friendlier bees that are easier for beekeepers to work with.

Among the … » More …