Hillsborough to bee hospitable with new hotel

in the Daily Tar Heel

A bee hotel will be all the buzz in Hillsborough, NC, on Saturday, as it is unveiled in efforts to combat the disappearance of bees from local habitats.

“A lot of people are aware of the decline of honey bees in the United States, but fewer people understand the role of native bees,” said Stephanie Trueblood, Hillsborough public space manager.  Continue reading

NC State University student spotlight on pollinator protection

In NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News

by Chelsea Kellner, NC State University

As pollinator gardens grow in popularity, Marisol Mata wants to make sure they are giving North Carolina’s native bees the nutrition they need to thrive.

Her work can also help us glimpse the future — how changes in global weather patterns could affect nutrition for one of our smallest but most important eco-partners. Continue reading

Finding of self-medicating behavior in bees not supported in further research

In Morning Ag Clips

A new study of possible self-medicating behavior in bumble bees conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports that a once-promising finding was not supported by further experiments and analysis.

Doctoral candidate Evan Palmer-Young and his advisor, evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler, had reported in 2015 that a common parasitic infection of bumble bees was reduced when the bees fed on anabasine in sugar water. Anabasine is a natural alkaloid, nicotine-like chemical found in plant nectar. The researchers had hoped their finding was evidence that bees may use “nature’s medicine cabinet” to rid themselves of the intestinal parasite Crithidia bombi, which can decrease the survival of queen bees over the winter and hamper the success of young colonies in the spring. Continue reading

USDA Invests $6.8 Million for Research and Extension Grants on Pollinator Health

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced seven grants totaling $6.8 million for research and extension projects to sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“An estimated $15 billion worth of crops, including more than 90 fruits and vegetables, are pollinated by honey bees alone,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “With the recent declines in pollinator populations owing to various factors, it is imperative that we invest in research to promote pollinator health, reduce honey bee colony losses, and restore pollinator habitats.”  Continue reading

Webinar on Ensuring Crop Pollination in US Specialty Crops starts Jan. 24

This webinar series will provide an overview of pollination requirements and strategies to ensure pollination of different specialty crops. Farmers and gardeners rely on crop pollinators, including honey bees, alternative managed bees like the blue orchard bee, and wild bees. Pollination experts will discuss how to support these pollinators on almond, blueberry, tree fruit, pumpkin, and watermelon farms. Learn how to connect to the webinar series via the Bee Health page on eXtension.org.

Research finding new ways to protect pollinator health

A USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Impact Spotlight

September is National Honey Month and you can’t have honey without honey bees. There are direct links between the health of American agriculture and the health of bees and other pollinators.

Pollination is critical to the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which are important parts of a healthy diet. Pollination by managed honey bee colonies adds at least $15 billion to the value of U.S. agriculture annually through increased yields and superior-quality harvests. Continue reading

Access to food eases stress on traveling honey bees

by Mick Kulikowski

In the first large-scale and comprehensive study on the impacts of transporting honey bees to pollinate various crops, research from North Carolina State University shows that travel can adversely affect bee health and lifespan. Some of these negative impacts may be reduced by moving bee colonies into patches with readily available food or by providing supplemental nutrition when there are few flowers for honey bees to visit, the researchers say.

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are among the country’s most important agricultural pollinators. They are frequently trucked around the United States – in short and long distances – to pollinate crops like apples, almonds and berries. But the impact of that travel remains unclear and ripe for study, says Hongmei Li-Byarlay, a National Research Council senior research associate in NC State’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and co-first author of a paper describing the research, which aimed to be the first to directly measure stress in these types of colonies. Continue reading