It's really fun to participate in research projects and even conduct your own project! I was fortunate to be able to assist my Entomology professor and also given a chance to conduct my own research project. I'd highly suggest doing something of the sort since you'd be able to learn so much more!
That's so neat— what kind of research was it?
Because our association is so well-connected, I likely will have an opportunity to participate in studies, and certainly perform some of my own on a less formal basis. (I don't have a background in sciences, but my sister, whom I live with, is a biologist/public health student.) There was actually an open invite for beekeepers to join in a big survey that involved outfitting hives with a special wifi-enabled scale, which would track the weight of the hive over time (this is a fairly reliable way to estimate basics like whether the bees are storing food, or raising a lot of brood). I decided not to participate this season, because it'll be my first and I didn't want to overcomplicate things. It's not uncommon for colonies to die, especially with inexperienced beeks.
Bees are really fascinating creatures, and I've found that I've learned a ton about our local environment in general just from preparing to keep them. For example, I have never been great at plant ID (mostly because I wasn't really paying attention; it was mostly miscellaneous green stuff to me), but I have learned the names of most common herbaceous plants, as well as their various attributes and bloom times. I've also been learning surprising details about common plants that I had never thought about— for example, holly bushes flower prolifically! The white or pink "petals" on dogwood trees are not actually petals, they are a type of modified leaf called bracts! Purple deadnettle has vibrantly red and orange pollen!
Our property is in a pretty large stand of forest (the forest is large, the property is a little over one acre), which limits foraging, so I've also been working on turning large parts of the yard into a kind of "bee buffet," stocked with flowering plants selected so that something is in bloom from April to October. As a result, I have learned so much about soil ecology, and am currently growing a crop of sweetclover and other nitrogen-fixing flowering legumes to use first as bee food, then as green manure to condition our very acidic, very clay-heavy soil.