Corn, soybeans and honey bees

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 4:10pm
Event Type: 

Dr. Reed Johnson from the Ohio State University Department of Entomology will be presenting a seminar as part of the Department of Entomology's spring semester seminar series. This event is co-sponsored by EEB and EEOB.

Abstract: Corn (Zea mays) and soybeans (Glycine max) together cover approximately 177 million acres in the US, largely in midwestern states.  There is much discussion about the effect that corn and soybean agriculture has on honey bees (Apis mellifera).  In Ohio there is evidence that this agroecosystem provides more forage for honey bees than either forested or urban areas.  Bees undoubtedly benefit from the abundant wild flowering plants that grow along field margins, particularly the clovers and goldenrods blooming late in the season.  Bees may also harvest nectar from soybean flowers, though the exact conditions and plant varieties leading to a soybean honey crop are obscure.  Agricultural landscapes also pose distinct disadvantages for beekeeping, particularly through the use of insecticides.  Neonicotinoid insecticides applied as a corn seed treatment pose a threat to bees during corn planting.  Small amounts of the seed treatment are abraded during the planting process to produce an insecticidal dust that causes small to moderate bee kills during corn planting.  Despite potential risks, agricultural areas appear to be good places to keep bees in the Midwest.

The ENT seminar series is coordinated by Greg Courtney ( and Rick Hellmich ( Please feel free to contact them with questions.