Bayer opens new North Carolina bee care center

04/16/2014 11:21:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

With a snip of a giant pair of scissors recently, James Blome, president and chief executive officer of Bayer CropScience LP, cut the ribbon on the company’s new Bee Care Center near Research Triangle Park, N.C.

And the opening of the education and research facility couldn’t come soon enough for Wayne Rose, a beekeeper and chairman of the North Carolina Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau pollinator committees.

“It’s going to take something like this to find the answers to the problems we have,” says Rose, whose business is based in Johnston County. “I don’t think the researchers on their own are going to do it.”

Bayer bee care center ribbon cuttingVicky BoydFlanked by Bayer representatives and local and state dignitaries, James Blome, president and chief executive officer of Bayer CropScience LP, cuts the ribbon opening the Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C.Like many of his colleagues, Rose says he has experienced about 25 percent annual losses in honeybee colonies, but they have been as high as 80 percent.

“And that’s hard to recover from, especially when you have contracts waiting for you,” he says.

Rose and Julian Wooten, president of the North Carolina Beekeepers Association, point to not one but several stressors that affect bee health, including varroa mite, viruses, nutrition, weather and genetics.

“There are so many things,” Rose says. “Before, if you had Fallbrood (disease), you had a problem. Fallbrood is the least of our problems right now. All of these other things – (small hive) beetles are a problem, mites are a problem, and whatever is compounding these is a problem.”


Center complements existing work

The $2.4 million, 6,000-square-foot facility is designed as an education and research center, says Dick Rogers, a Bayer entomologist and center manager.

The building is surrounded by landscape plants chosen for their drought tolerance and bee forage contributions. In addition, three working bee hives will be used as demonstration and educational components.

The center also will host graduate students working on bee health issues. It is the second facility of its type that Bayer has built. The first one, built two years ago, is at the company’s headquarters in Monheim, Germany.

The company plans to collaborate with the industry, and university and Agricultural Research Service scientists to develop better mite controls, improved bee nutrition and best management practices for beekeepers, to name a few.

David Tarpy, an associate professor and Extension apiculturist with North Carolina State University, Raleigh, says he views the center as complementing existing research already being conducted by institutions.

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