USDA Focus on Honey Bee Health

CATCH THE BUZZ   By Kim Flottum   May 21, 2014

Statement of Jeff Pettis, Research Leader USDA - Agricultural Research Service

Testimony before the House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture - April 29, 2014 

Chairman Scott, Ranking Member Schrader and members of the subcommittee, I am Dr. Jeff Pettis, Research Leader of the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, a research laboratory dedicated to honey bee health and part of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. I am pleased to appear before you to discuss a serious threat to the honey bee and thus our food security in the United States.

Ultimately, if no long-term solutions are developed to slow bee decline, consumers will pay more for the food they buy. The foods that bees are responsible for pollinating tend to be the foods that add vital nutrients, flavor and diversity to our diet: the fruits, nuts and vegetables that maintain health. Bees pollinate more than 90 crops and are responsible for $15 billion in added crop value. Over half the nation’s bees are needed to pollinate almonds alone, a $3 billion crop with increasing acreage. 

One of the biggest problems facing honey bees and beekeepers today is the varroa mite. The varroa mite’s full name is Varroa destructor, and it is...


The above brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ: Kim Flottom,  Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company. Twitter.FacebookBee Culture’s Blog.

Supermarket without Bees

Huffington Post   Producer: Jake Bieler  6/15/13

Supermarket Without Bees: What Would The Produce Section Look Like Without Pollinators

Have apples, carrots, lemons or watermelon on your grocery list? Bad news -- without bees, these foods could be much harder to find in the produce section, according to a new campaign from Whole Foods Market.

Bees are still having a rough time. The British Beekeepers Association said more than a third of colonies died in England this past winter, and U.S. populations suffered similar drops. Researchers have said an industry practice of feeding bees corn syrup may spur colony collapse disorder, which could affect the $30 billion crop industry dependent on bee pollination.

Europe instituted a temporary ban on a class of pesticides believed to be harmful to bees in April, and researchers at Washington State University have proposed a bee sperm bank to try and breed hardier colonies, but the insects are still dying in record numbers.

So what would a supermarket without bees look like? Whole Foods pulled all of the produce dependent on pollinators from the shelves of their University Heights store in Rhode Island -- a whopping 237 items, or 52 percent of the normal product mix.

Photos from Whole Foods Market/PRN News Photo