Penn State leads honey bee health project

05/24/2011 01:38:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Penn State University will lead a Bee Informed Partnership with the help of a $5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The goal of the multi-state project is to use epidemiology to improve honey bee management and develop regional recommendations for beekeepers, according to a news release.

"We would like to reduce honey bee mortality, increase beekeeper profitability and enhance adoption of sustainable management systems in beekeeping," Dennis vanEngelsdorp, senior Extension associate in the Penn State, said in the release. "At the same time we want to increase the reliability of production in pollinator dependent crops and increase the profitability of pollinator-dependent producers."

VanEngelsdorp will lead the project.

In addition, participants will create an interactive honey bee health database.

Among the surveys planned will be a continuation of winter colony survival.

The survey began four years ago after beekeepers reported unusually high winter mortality. Researchers have tied many of the problems to colony collapse disorder, a disorder where bees mysteriously disasppear from the colony.

Honey bees are responsible for about $15 billion in added crop value annually, according to the USDA.

Other partnership participants include the University of California, University of Illinois, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Appalachian State University, Lincoln University, USDA-ARS and the Florida Department of Agriculture.

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