Marla's interest in bees began when she worked for a commercial beekeeper from New Mexico in 1975. She later completed her B.A. in Biology from Humboldt State University in northern California, and her PhD from the University of Kansas, under Dr. Orley "Chip" Taylor, in 1989. She spent two years in Costa Rica conducting her thesis research on the identification and ecology of Africanized and European honey bees. From 1989-1992 she was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona. She began as Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota in 1993. Influenced by Martha Gilliam and Steve Taber from the USDA Bee lab in Tucson, she became interested in hygienic behavior of honey bees. This interest has expanded into studies of "social immunity", including the benefits of propolis to the immune system of honey bees, and to the health and diversity of health and biodiversity of all bee pollinators.
A long time hobby beekeeper and trained in technology education, Gary began working with Marla when she moved to Minnesota in 1993. Without his hard work, the program would not be what it is today. He maintains the research colonies, helps train and work with students in the field, designs and builds specialty equipment and speaks to beekeeping, student and civic groups. He plans the Extension short courses and together with Marla teaches beginning as well as experienced beekeepers. His humorous style of teaching helps the classes stay interested and enthusiastic about a sometimes challenging subject. He is a past president of both Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association and Wisconsin Honey Producers Association and director of the American Beekeeping Federation, and remains active in these groups. He still finds time to mange his own colonies, while learning to blacksmith, maintaining an orchard, and helping his wife raise sheep.
Jody is a fourth generation beekeeper from Appleton, Wisconsin but spent the last decade in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. holds a B.A. in Environmental Education and Master of Science in Environmental Science from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. She continues to play a key role in the development and implementation of Bee Squad programs and helps with research projects through the Bee Lab. Her interests include pollination ecology, sharing bees with people, and learning to help bees help themselves. When not working with bees or bee related projects, Jody enjoys playing outside with her dogs and boyfriend.
Bee Squad Coordinator, Program Developer
University of Minnesota
Becky is the propolizer of the Bee Squad crew. Becky joined the Bee Squad in October of 2012 and helps the program stick together. Her history with the Bee Lab began as an undergraduate lab technician shortly after Marla Spivak was hired by the University of Minnesota in 1992. She graduated from U of MN Twin Cities with a BA (major in history, minor in biology) and then pursued a graduate degree in Entomology at the U of MN studying honey bee behavior in the Bee Lab. After graduating with a Ph.D. in 2000, She left science for a career in the real estate business, another passion of hers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband to historic sites around the world, training their rescue dogs in agility, practicing yoga and gardening.