Spring Assessment of the Biology and Ecology of Native Pollinators and Honey Bees in the Pacific Northwest

Spring Open
Class Standing

Throughout the world, insect populations are in peril, but none more so than native pollinators and honey bees. This program will focus on the biology and ecological needs of the Western or European honey bee, Apis mellifera, and native pollinators in the Pacific Northwest. Academic work will be divided between readings, lectures, seminar discussion, and a significant hands-on practicum portion involving learning how to start and manage beehives and the physical, ecological, environmental, physiological needs, and taxonomical identification of both insect pollinators and the plants they pollinate, and the behavioral characteristics of native pollinators. Most of the focus will be on the biology of bees and other insect pollinators such as flies, beetles, moths, and butterflies and the ecological services they provide during the spring. Spring quarter, we will survey and identify what pollinators are working on the farm during the spring and develop a pollinator plan to enhance their survivorship and the ecological services they provide the farm and surrounding areas.

Through classroom work and hands-on fieldwork, we will examine the biology and spring management strategies and the biological principles behind those strategies for both newly established and second-year honey bee colonies. Next, we will focus on the technical aspects of managing and caring for honey bee cultures. What do honey bees need to thrive each year? Why do honey bees swarm, and how do you prevent it? Finally, we will look at the life history and biology of spring species of bumblebees and other native pollinators. What environmental conditions do they need, and can we provide habitat modifications to improve their chances of successful nesting and survival? 

In the practicum portion of the program, we will put our theoretical knowledge to work by starting and managing honeybee hives throughout the spring. We will also learn how to identify native pollinators in the field and the laboratory using dichotomous keys and picture identification. In addition, we will practice building and installing nesting boxes for cavity-dwelling pollinators, such as bumble bees and mason bees, and modifying habitat resources for ground nesting pollinator species that will encourage and improve the survivorship of native pollinators.

Finally, through classroom and field workshops, we will study and practice the latest techniques for measuring the impact of these environmental modifications on native pollinator populations.


An introductory level of Biology and Chemistry.

An introductory level of Biology and Chemistry.

Course Reference Numbers
So - Sr (16): 30151
Fr (16): 30154

Academic Details

Entomology, Conservation work (i.e. NRCS or Conservation Districts), Apiculture farming


$80 fee covers hive tools ($30) and required lab fee ($50)

Upper-division credits could be awarded in ecology, agriculture, ethology, or experimental biology. Students interested in upper division credit must have taken at least one-quarter of the previous honey bee and native pollinator programs, an introductory course in entomology or comparable, or have at least one year of experience raising honey bees. In addition, all qualified students must submit a formal project proposal to their faculty.


In Person (S)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details
SAL 102 - Food Safe Lab


Date Revision
2023-02-22 Student fee increased by $50 due to addition of lab fee