Finding answers to honeybee colony decline

honeybeeThe popular saying celebrating the importance of agriculture, “No Farms, No Food,” could easily shift to “No Bees, No Food” if solutions to the honeybee decline are not found.

Which is why Troy Anderson, Virginia Tech insect toxicologist, is making inroads toward understanding why the honeybee — the most widely managed crop pollinator — is disappearing in droves.

While pesticides have been implicated in the reduced number of bee colonies available for crop pollination services, several gaps remain in the knowledge about pesticide exposures and the health status of bees in order to understand the decimation of these pollinators. Anderson’s team uses a multidisciplinary approach to study bee decline, including pesticide residue analysis, nutrition and immune physiology, and population dynamics modeling.

“We need to gather information where knowledge is lacking to predict conditions that are favorable or unfavorable for bee health,” Anderson said. “Our research is being translated into management practices to reduce bee losses for the apiculture and agriculture industries. These practices will not only minimize annual losses of bees; they will also improve the health of these pollinators and enhance crop pollination services.”

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