Native American high school students get “up close and personal” with honey bees at the USDA Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, as part of their participation in the Native American Summer Institute, a long-running collaboration between the University of Arizona and the bee lab. The curriculum helps the students learn math and science as they use two of the lab’s computer models to learn about honey bee colony health and develop plans to start a beekeeping business.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
There’s nothing like a little “hands-on” activity to help students learn. And what better way to encourage math and science education than to give students an opportunity for the ultimate “hands-on” experience: working with honey bees.
That’s what Native American high school students are doing at the USDA Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona. At the lab, operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), researchers study honey bee nutrition and health to ensure that these insects can effectively pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of fruits and vegetables each year. Read more »
An alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata, on an alfalfa flower. This bee is widely used for pollination by alfalfa seed growers.
There’s a lot of buzz right now about honey bees—their health and their future.
The good news, where honey bees are concerned, is that there is good news. Just last month, the results of the annual winter bee loss survey were released, and losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent for the past winter—a significant drop from the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-13.
But the really good news is that when it comes to pollination, honey bees aren’t the only game in town. Read more »
The volunteers worked four hours to get the 710 plants in the ground. NRCS photo.
What’s the buzz going on in Princeton, Ill.? A food fest for our pollinator friends, that’s what.
This is a People’s Garden designed specifically for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The idea came to Ellen Starr, area biologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, while walking her dog one day.
“Populations of many pollinators are in serious decline,” said Starr, a fan of pollinators. “So what better way to educate the public about the issue than create a garden?” Read more »
Loveless uses smoke to calm the bees when he opens the boxes for inspection. Smoking the bees allows the beekeeper to work in the hive while the colony's defensive response is interrupted.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Larry Loveless of Gillespie, Ill., works full-time at a factory by day, but spends his evenings and free time beekeeping.
The harsh winter of 2013 brought devastating losses to many livestock producers, including beekeepers. Loveless lost more than half of his colonies due to several days of sub-zero temperatures. He started with 20 colonies and was down to only seven by the end of the winter.
“I’ve lost a few colonies here and there, but I’ve never experienced this horrific of a loss,” said Loveless, whose hives were already at a disadvantage because of last year’s drought. Read more »
Pollinator Week Festival. June 20, 2014. 10 am – 2pm outside USDA headquarters.
How do pollinators affect your life? Well, if you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, chocolate bar or tomato, you can thank a pollinator. Pollinators are birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat. But these invaluable creatures are facing declines. That’s why USDA agencies, other federal departments and partners share knowledge and collaborate on efforts to help increase awareness and tackle challenges facing pollinators.
Last month, USDA launched a webcam that is literally buzzing with activity at the People’s Garden Apiary, located here on the roof of USDA headquarters in Washington, DC. Observing these social insects at #USDABeeWatch is fascinating and addicting. If you’ve been watching then you probably have a lot of questions about honey bee behavior and beekeeping. Meet our Beekeepers Nathan Rice and Andy Ulsamer virtually on Friday at Noon and ask them questions about what you’re seeing. Tweet to us @USDA and use #USDABeeWatch. Feel free to send your questions ahead of time, and we will respond to as many as possible during the chat. Read more »
This week, USDA and its partners released the results of the eight annual national survey of honey bee losses. The survey shows good news—fewer honey bee colonies were lost this winter than in previous years. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide.
That figure is a significant improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported last winter, but it is still higher than the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent and still far above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability.
While we’re pleased to see improvement this year, these losses are still too high. Read more »