College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA Internship Stories: Lindsay Barranco

Author: 
Meg Smolinski
bees at fall harvest festival

Lindsay Barranco - Helping Newbies with Their Hives

After hearing of colony collapse disorder nine years ago, Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) student Lindsay Barranco signed up for a beginning beekeeping course. She started beekeeping with just two hives. That grew into a love of working with bees, which led a desire to help other Maryland beekeepers with their hives. And, that led Barranco to pursue a Sustainable Agriculture certificate from the IAA.

She now has six hives and a small honey business; she sells her honey at local markets. In addition, she serves as a honey judge at the Maryland State Fair, comparing the moisture content, flavor, and overall quality of honey and beeswax products produced by other beekeepers. But it’s her internship with the Maryland Department of Agriculture that allows her to help new beekeepers with concerns about pests, diseases and perplexing colony management issues. Barranco works seasonally as an apiary inspector.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Apiary Inspection Office requires beekeepers in the state to register their honeybee hives. “This is because honeybees are a 'super organism,'" Barranco says, “with each individual beehive colony being part of a greater population of honeybees in the environment. Honeybees can be negatively impacted by contagious diseases such as American Foulbrood that infect the bee larva and can kill a hive and can also infect surrounding beehives. This is a job that involves trying to keep bees healthy and to be there for beekeepers when they need help.”

The State Apiarist and five other part-time inspectors like Lindsay, travel to hives and colonies to make sure bee colonies are not infected with contagious diseases and to assess for internal and external parasites and pests. The inspectors suggest beneficial management practices, inspect for disease, take adult bee and larvae samples from the hive to send to the Beltsville USDA Bee Lab for diagnosis for pests and diseases, and most importantly, create a community of caring in the beekeeping world. Faculty advisor Meredith Epstein was thrilled with Barranco’s choice of internship, saying, “[She] is a perfect example of someone who has turned her passion into a meaningful career. Both the Institute of Applied Agriculture and the Maryland Department of Agriculture are fortunate to have her keen insight, positivity, and goodwill. The delicious honey she brings in is the cherry on top!”

Honey bees and the work they do pollinating plants are critically important to home gardeners, the green industry, and our entire food supply. By taking her love of bees to the next level with the Apiary Inspection Office, Barranco is helping our honey bee population thrive.

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