Bee Squad Team

Bridget Mendel

Bridget Mendel

Bee Squad Director

Bridget Mendel is the Bee Squad's Program Director. She manages the incredible Bee Squad team, oversees program development, and works on Bee Lab outreach and communications. She loves working with bees,  beekeepers, and the public to make the world a more habitable place for all people and all pollinators. 

Education

Bridget holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. from the university of Minnesota.

Preferred Pronouns

she/ hers

 

 

Clara Costello

Clara Costello

Beekeeper, Equipment Manager and Creative Consultant

Clara Costello started beekeeping as a student in the Bee Squad’s Mentoring Apiary Program. She discovered she had a talent, and joined the Bee Squad team in 2014. Clara holds a B.A. in German and Theatre Arts, with a minor in Biology, from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Besides beekeeping, she remains an active part of the Twin Cities’ theatre community.

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Helgen

Jessica Helgen

Beekeeper and Mentoring Apiary Coordinator

Jessica Helgen fell in love with beekeeping on a study abroad trip to southern India in college. After graduating, she started working for the UMN Bee Lab, then returned to India for a Fulbright fellowship to study Asian honey bees (Apis cerana). Jessica continued working for the Bee Lab and became one the first members of the Bee Squad in 2010. In 2015, Jessica initiated the Mentoring Apiary program, which provides hands-on training to hobby beekeepers. She is most proud of convincing new beekeepers to try glove-less beekeeping!

Education

B.A. in Biology from St. Olaf College, 2006

Preferred Pronouns

she/her/hers

 

 

Dr. Katie Lee

Katie Lee

Extension Educator and Researcher

I am the Apiculture Extension Educator, a Bee Squad team member, and a post-doctoral researcher on the Minnesota Agriculture for Pollinators Project led by Dr. Dan Cariveau. My work focuses on the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, metrics that indicate queen bee and colony health, and the benefits of pollinator plantings on bee health. I developed a parasitic mite sampling protocol that is now a nationwide standard. For the Bee Informed Partnership, I founded two extension teams that provide colony assessment services for commercial beekeepers. I serve on the boards of the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation and co-chair the education and research committees.

Education

PhD, Entomology, 2018, U of MN, Advisor: Marla Spivak M.S. Entomology, 2009, U of MN, Advisor: Marla Spivak B.S. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, 2005, U of MN

Preferred Pronouns

she/her

 

Brooke Nikkila

Brooke Nikkila

Program Manager

Brooke Nikkila manages bees and serves as the Program Coordinator for Bee Squad's Pollinator Ambassadors Program. She also gives pollinator talks to groups throughout the Twin Cities. Brooke first discovered her interest in bees while doing research at the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she completed her undergraduate degree in Applied Science with a concentration in Biotechnology.

Education

B.S in Applied Science

Highlights

Published in July 2020 Insects article "Social fever or general immune response? Revisiting an example of social immunity in honey bees". Authors: Michael Goblirsch *, Jenny F Warner, Brooke A Sommerfeldt, Marla Spivak * Acknowledged in PLOS ONE article "Do honey bee (Apis mellifera) foragers recruit their nestmates to native forbs in reconstructed prairie habitats?" Carr-Markell MK, Demler CM, Couvillon MJ, Schürch R, Spivak M (2020) Acknowledged in PLOS ONE article “Sepsis and Hemocyte Loss in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) Infected with Serratia marcescens Strain Sicaria.” Burritt, Nancy L et al. (2016)

 

Elise Bernstein

Elise Bernstein

Bee Squad Pollinator and Climate Justice Coordinator

I am a part of the outreach team with the Bee Squad. I am extremely passionate about the environment overall, but specifically the intersection between health and climate change in the realm of environmental justice. I LOVE spending time outside, especially where there are pollinators or other types of insects. Outside of work, I enjoy rock climbing, making jewelry, and listening/playing music.

Education

I am currently an undergrad student at the University of Minnesota studying environmental science, policy, and management with a minor in public health.

Highlights

Deans List student Published article in Ensia magazine: https://ensia.com/notable/climate-change-food-diet/

In addition to working with the Bee Squad, I am a communications assistant for Ensia Magazine at the Institute on the Environment.

Preferred Pronouns

She/Her/Hers

 

Stephen Tolentino

Stephen Tolentino

Bee Squad Pollinator and Climate Justice Coordinator

My name is Stephen Tolentino. I am a freshman at the University of Minnesota aiming to major in Product Design and/or Kinesiology. My responsibilities include my position in the Bee Squad as a Pollinator and Climate Justice Coordinator, as well as a Bike Builder at Freewheel Bike Shop. My interests include mountain biking, skiing, and environmentalism. I'm very excited to be working with all of the cool people at the bee lab!

Education

Undergraduate @ University of Minnesota

Highlights

2020 Varsity Track Captain at Woodbury High School, awardee of the 2018 Coach Moore Award, Academic Honor awardee at Woodbury High School.

Preferred Pronouns

He/Him/His