Laurel Streeter '19 works with honey bee hives at College of the Atlantic Peggy Rockefellar Farms. Researchers at COA and University of Maine have joined together to research what is limiting honey production for Maine's bees.Laurel Streeter '19 works with honey bee hives at College of the Atlantic Peggy Rockefellar Farms. Researchers at COA and University of Maine have joined together to research what is limiting honey production for Maine's bees.

Life is pretty sweet for Sara Velardi these days.

The University of Maine postdoctoral researcher is spending late summer into fall talking to Maine beekeepers and maple syrup producers as part of a study looking at the challenges and opportunities facing producers of some of the state’s tastiest natural products.

“We are hoping to find how our beekeepers and maple syrup producers are making scale management decisions,” Velardi said. “Are they wanting to scale up? Are there certain problems or challenges hindering that?”

The study, “Finding the Sweet Spot: Scales, Challenges and Opportunities for Beekeeping and Maple Syrup Production in Maine,” is one part of a $1 million, three-year USDA grant awarded to the University in Maine a year ago and aimed at sustainable agriculture research.

It is being conducted jointly between the University of Maine and the College of the Atlantic.

Of the grant, $498,462 was awarded to lead investigators Jessica Leahy, professor of human dimensions in natural resources; Julia McGuire, biologist; Dr. Melissa Ladenheim, associate dean of the honors college all from the University of Maine; and Kourtney Collum, chair of food and sustainable agriculture systems at College of the Atlantic.

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