My responsibilities since arriving at Kentucky State University in 1988 are divided between Extension (50%) and Research (50%).
Extension: My extension work is primarily devoted to educating beekeepers and helping them to become more profitable in their activities. A unified effort toward a regional beekeeping association, in collaboration with colleagues and beekeepers has led to the Heartland Apicultural Society. These yearly educational conferences now draw about 500 participants every July.
A grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund was implemented in 2003. Funds have been allocated to the purchase of large-capacity honey extraction equipment and trailers for the transportation of hives to crops in need of pollination. To date, 16 counties with the equipment have produced more than $1 million worth of honey. Collaboration with other researchers (http://www.beeccdcap.uga.edu/) has allowed significant progress toward solutions to widespread beekeeping problems.
The books Mites of the Honey Bee (2001, 288 pp), edited with Dr. Keith Delaplane, and Observation Hives (1999, 112 pp.) authored with Dr. Dewey Caron have provided practical information for beekeepers.
Research: My current research is devoted primarily toward non-chemical and sustainable control of honey bee disease and parasites, and to studies of the behavior of bees when they rear queens. My main focus is on improved methods of identification and control of the pathogen Nosema ceranae. Also, visible / near-infrared spectroscopy shows promise in the evaluation of queen bees. Studies on the parasitic mite Varroa destructor have shown that screened hive bottoms will eliminate significant numbers of mites. Queen rearing behavior is recorded through a non-invasive measurement system that records royal jelly provisioning. I supervise KSU and high school students who conduct independent study projects in my lab.
Dr. Thomas C. Webster
Apiculture Researcher and Extension Specialist
400 East Main Street,
209 Atwood Building
Frankfort, KY 40601
Fax: (502) 597-6551