Friday, February 01, 2008

Improving Honey Bee Health

Agricultural Research, February 2008


The world’s food supply depends on pollination by bees. So anything that causes a significant loss of honey bees would severely limit the foods available to us.

For example, in California alone, the almond crop requires the service of 1.2 million bee colonies—about half of all U.S. honey bee colonies. Overall, pollination is responsible for about $15 billion in added crop value—particularly for nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.

Now it appears that bees nationwide have been stricken with a fast-spreading, deadly syndrome called “colony collapse disorder.” Some beekeepers have lost one-half to two-thirds of their colonies. In response, scientists at ARS bee laboratories across the country are uniting to search for answers to the question, What’s causing the disappearance of honey bees?

“This is obviously something that we’re all concerned about,” says Jeffery S. Pettis, research leader at ARS’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. Pettis has been named a coordinator of the newly established 5-year Areawide Program To Improve Honey Bee Health, Survivorship, and Pollination Availability…

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