The Gund Institute for Environment at UVM announced Apis Fund support for four research and conservation projects seeking to protect endangered bees.

These Apis Fund projects will create the first comprehensive online atlas of Vermont’s bee species, develop a new pollinator garden at UVM, and evaluate how bee pollination improves coffee quality—and livelihoods—in Costa Rica and Mexico.

The four projects receiving Apis Fund Awards for 2021 are:

Gund Graduate Fellow Janica Anderzén (CALS) will study the ecological, economic, and social importance of bees for coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico. Native and managed bees help shade-coffee farmers ecologically by pollinating coffee and food crops. Farmers who manage honeybees are less financially dependent on coffee, increasing their resilience. Her results will inform farmer and community education programs and dialogues with local governments regarding harmful pesticides. Project collaborators include: Gund Postdoctoral Fellow Alejandra Gúzman Luna (CALS); Rémy Vandame, Michelle Rosales, Daniela Gallardo Olimón, Yliana Delfín Fuentes, and Omar Argüello Nájera of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR); and Rigoberto Hernández Jonapá, Jose Antonio López Pérez, Williams Salomon Roblero, and Inés Lucia Pérez Gómez of Campesinos Ecológicos de Sierra Madre de Chiapas (CESMACH).

A study by Gund Graduate Fellow Natalia Aristizábal (RSENR) will measure the impact of bee pollination on coffee quality, including its flavor and aroma. This research will have major implications for conservation experts and coffee farmers alike, as the price of coffee is heavily dependent on its quality. In collaboration with CoopeTarrazú, Costa Rica’s principal coffee cooperative, Aristizábal’s team plans to distribute their findings through the National Coffee Institute, and to 5,000 coffee growers in Costa Rica. Collaborators include: Jimmy Porras of CoopeTarrazú and Alejandra Martínez-Salinas and Adina Chain-Guadarrama of Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE).

Spencer Hardy of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies will build the first-ever online atlas of every bee species in the state. Rather than relying on the traditional practice of capturing and pinning insects, the atlas will teach Vermonters how to photograph and identify bee species in their natural habitats, allowing for community-sourced documentation and monitoring of Vermont’s bees. The finished atlas will be free and permanently accessible through the Vermont Atlas of Life website, and is expected to inform key regional and statewide conservation decisions.

UVM undergraduate students Caitlyn Williams and Liza Bryan (RSENR) will oversee the creation of a native, perennial pollinator garden in the backyard of UVM’s Bittersweet building. The garden, which will feature native Vermont flora, will be designed to attract and support bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and other native pollinators. The team will invite UVM students and Burlington-area community members to participate in the project and learn how to create their own pollinator-friendly spaces. Williams and Bryan will promote student engagement with the garden and create a fund for future repairs and updates to the space. Amy Seidl (RSENR) will mentor this project. 

About the Apis Fund

Named after the scientific name for honeybees, the Apis Fund catalyzes projects that support native and managed bee pollinators, which are essential for the world’s food supply and agriculture—but at risk due to climate change, disease, pesticides, and habitat loss.

Established with a $500,000 anonymous gift, the Apis Fund supports efforts by Vermont-based organizations in North America, Central America, and exchanges and collaborations between these regions.

Gund Institute researchers have led internationally recognized studies on bee pollinators, including the first map of U.S. bee declineshow bees improve crop yields, the impacts of climate change on bees, and the striking decline of Vermont bumblebees. Learn more about our research on bees.

The Gund Institute has provided over $800,000 in research funds, through the Catalyst Award and Apis Fund programs, supporting over 100 UVM scholars and over 25 innovative projects, since launching four years ago. In three years, Gund seed grants have generated over $8M in external funding, a 12-to-1 return on investment.

Apis Fund Proposals are evaluated on four criteria: relevance to Apis Fund mission and scope, strength and novelty of the overall project, leverage with other resources, and potential for impact.

Learn more about the Gund Apis Fund. Apply now for a Gund Summer Undergraduate Research Award.


Kyra Chevalier
Composite image of researchers Janica Anderzen, Natalia Aristizabal, Caitlyn Williams, and Spencer Hardy
Four new Apis Fund recipients include: Janica Anderzén, Natalia Aristizábal, Caitlyn Williams, and Spencer Hardy.