COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Things are really buzzing this spring just in time for the honey bees to become active as the Department announces the arrival of Mark Dykes as the new Chief Apiary Inspector.
Dykes joined the Department in March after working as a supervisor at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Apiary Inspection Service. He replaced Paul Jackson after his retirement in June 2013.
During the time he was a supervisor of the Region 2 with Florida Department of Agriculture, Dykes oversaw the inspections of managed honey bee colonies and supervised the region’s six apiary inspectors. Other responsibilities include conducting honey bee research and presenting findings and research results to both scientific and general audiences.
Previous to working for the state of Florida, Dykes was the Apiary Manager for Dr Jamie Ellis at the University of Florida Honey Bee Research Lab in Gainesville Florida. As the Apiary Manager, he conducted various research projects on honey bees, designed, implemented, and coordinated novel research experiments, and managed honey bee hives.
In addition, he has spoken at several venues, including the University of Florida Bee College, the American Beekeeping Conference, local honey bee clubs, and several UF/IFAS Extension Service events.
“I am very happy to be here,” Dykes said. “The Honey Bee Program here in Texas is a great program and I really am looking forward to working with everyone.”
Dr. David Ragsdale, Head of the Department of Entomology said, “We were very fortunate to attract someone with Mark’s experience and deep understanding of how to operate an apiary inspection program.” After a nationwide search Mr. Dykes was identified by the search committee which had two Texas Beekeeper Association representatives, TBA President Blake Shook and TBA member Clint Walker provided insight into the search process.
Dykes currently is working on a research project with Dr. Jamie Ellis, at the University of Florida, collecting samples of African and Cape honey bees for the purpose of designing a rapid identification method for each subspecies.
Dykes said that identification of the Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis) is potentially very important due to the parasitic behaviors of workers on African bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) colonies. Accidental introduction of Cape honey bees into the Unites States could cause widespread problems for the apiary industry and there are currently no reliable identification methods.
Dykes received his Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Florida and Associates in Arts degree in Biology from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa. He also served in the United States Coast Guard.