Patrick Hurley, Honors College Sweet Spot Fellow

Pat Hurley, Honors CollegePatrick Hurley is an EES senior with a minor in Sustainable Food Systems, a concentration in Aquatics and Wetlands Ecology and an Honors College student. As a Maine Land & Sea Grant University, UMaine provides students with numerous research opportunities and experiences, and many students find their passion and drive through these avenues. For Hurley, he discovered his passion while doing research on bees. This summer he was awarded the Sweet Spot Fellowship through the Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative (SFSRC). The Sweet Spot Fellowship is an interdisciplinary team of social and natural scientists focused on examining the challenges and opportunities of both maple syrup production and beekeeping.

Hurley will be writing his honors thesis on varroa mites, mites that specifically attack honeybees, and the various treatments beekeepers use on their hives, particularly in Maine. Lincoln Sennett, the head beekeeper and owner of Swan’s Honey has agreed to collaborate on the project to test different organic acid treatment methods on his hives. Organic acid treatments are one way that scientists may help save honeybees from varroa mites.

One important lesson that Hurley has learned while participating in research is to be flexible. He says, “Not everything works out exactly as planned in the field and it’s important to be able to adapt on the spot, even if it means changing methods or staying calm through a swarm of (very) angry bees.” As Hurley continues to work on his thesis, he plans to attend bee clubs across Maine to spread the word about his honeybee research and create focus groups to hopefully help save the bees.

Hurley states that he would not be able to pursue and continue his research on bees if it wasn’t for his university experiences through the Honors College and the EES program. UMaine has taught him to have an open mind about different aspects of learning, especially when conducting research. He also says that UMaine has allowed him to pursue his own interests in research, which has made his education more enjoyable.

In the future, Hurley hopes to work with honeybees in a commercial beekeeping business or maintain a few of his own hives. Graduate school is among his goals as he hopes to earn a degree in entomology.

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Pat Hurley Bees Up Close
Beehive up close.Photo credits: Patrick Hurley
Some Beehive boxes under the sunset.Photo credits: Patrick Hurley
Patrick Hurley Bees with combs
Another Beehive with the combs up close.Photo credits: Patrick Hurley