Drone brood
Lighting the smoker
Capped honey
Brood nest
Comb honey
Different types of honey


UVA Bee School is an informal seminar at the University of Virginia on the mathematics of honeybee behavior and the practice of beekeeping. It's part academic pursuit and part social activity, honoring the University's unique tradition of close student-faculty friendship. It's led by Associate Professor of Mathematics Christian Gromoll, and generously supported by the Mead Endowment.
Hive intelligence
Honeybees survive by acquisition, defense, and efficient allocation of various resources, to enable successful overwintering and reproduction. This requires sophisticated decision making, akin to that needed by manufacturing firms, and beyond the capability of a single bee's brain. But when each bee follows simple sets of rules, the aggregate effect creates an emergent intelligence for the colony as a whole, able to react to a dynamic environment and achieve complex optimizations.
We're interested in understanding some of the mathematical principles underlying the colony intelligence of honeybees. We meet roughly every other week from October through April to discuss articles from the scientific literature on honeybees. We also do some mathematical modeling of specific honeybee optimization behaviors. Along the way, we learn some aspects of honeybee biology and ecology, as well as the history and practice of beekeeping.
We're also interested in getting to know each other, and getting to know the bees. In the Fall and Spring, we meet regularly at Professor Gromoll's home for hands-on activities in the apiary. This includes an opening breakfast in the Fall, and a dinner in the Spring. We'll also start a new honeybee colony for the group, and take a field trip to a larger apiary in the area.

30 January 2012

Depths of winter...

It's the 30th of January and 50F outside. The flowering quince is...flowering, the bees are flying, and pollen is coming in. Crazy. Two years ago at this time I shot the winter photos at the top of the page.

29 January 2012

Bees in the math building!

A swarm has moved into Kerchof Hall, somewhere near the men's room. I guess they heard about Beeschool! Ryan Taylor, the Central Grounds Superintendant, called me a few weeks ago to ask if we could help them remove it. By then it was cold, so the bees were clustering and out of sight. The plan is to wait until spring and see if they survive the winter. If they start flying again, we'll see if we can help Facilities Management collect the errant colony and give them a new home. Stay tuned...