UF Buzzing about Honey Bee Research
When you think about honey bees it's usually either about the delicious honey they produce or the danger of their sting, but we should think about them virtually every time we sit down for a meal because it's estimated that they're responsible for between 10 and 20 percent of all the food we eat. But they've been disappearing at an alarming rate over the last few years.
Thousands of bees buzzing is not a sound you want to hear up close in the wild. However, in managed honey bee colonies it's a welcome sound that's become unfortunately faint in recent years.
The honey bees are in trouble because of a variety of factors including mites, Beatles, diseases and a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder where bees suddenly abandon a nest.
Dr. Jamie Ellis is an insect specialist and Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida, and he said people need to realize how vital Honey Bees are to the agricultural industry as a whole.
He said, "One out of every five bites of food you take are because some bee, some honey bee, somewhere pollinated a fruit or a vegetable or a nut or a berry plant." He also said that although other pollinating insects are important, they can't take the place of honey bees.
Dr. Ellis said, "We can manage them, there are more of them, we can saturate an area with honey bee's..."
Because they're such a big part of agriculture, Dr. Ellis and the UF Entomology lab are conducting research to find out if pesticides are playing a role in Colony Collapse Disorder and the shrinking honey bee population.
Research Technician at the UF Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, Jeannette Klopchin, said that they're finding that pesticides can retard the growth and development of honeybee larvae.
Dr. Ellis said the research the lab is conducting is incredibly important for stopping the disappearance of honey bees, but it's not the only way to help.
He said, "People always ask me, how do we offset this message of eradication of wild bees that are in close proximity of people with the need to help bee's? And i tell them...you can become a bee keeper!"
In addition to becoming a bee keeper, you can help by limiting the use of pesticides around your home and planting a bee friendly garden...for more information go to www.ufhoneybee.com.
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