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Posts tagged: Bees

Helping Honey Bees’ Health

The black dot on this honey bee is a varroa mite--a parasite that sucks vital fluids like a tick, although it also acts like a mosquito transmitting viruses and other pathogens to the bee.

The black dot on this honey bee is a varroa mite--a parasite that sucks vital fluids like a tick, although it also acts like a mosquito transmitting viruses and other pathogens to the bee.

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

You’ve probably heard that the honey bees in this country are in trouble, with about one-third of our managed colonies dying off every winter. Later this week, we will learn how the honey bees survived this winter. With severe weather in a number of areas in the U.S. this winter, a number of us concerned about bees will be closely watching the results.

While scientists continue work to identify all the factors that have lead to honey bee losses, it is clear that there are biological and environmental stresses that have created a complex challenge that will take a complex, multi-faceted approach to solve.  Parasites, diseases, pesticides, narrow genetic diversity in honey bee colonies, and less access to diverse forage all play a role in colony declines.  To confront this diverse mix of challenges, we require a mix of solutions – the odds are that we won’t find one magic fix to help our honey bees. Read more »

Preserving that Beautiful Buzz

Work at USDA’s National Science Laboratories helps researchers and beekeepers better understand the effects of pesticide residue exposure on honey bees.

Work at USDA’s National Science Laboratories helps researchers and beekeepers better understand the effects of pesticide residue exposure on honey bees.

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.

In agriculture, buzzing can be music to our ears—especially if that buzz means pollinators are busy helping produce our fruits, nuts, vegetables and field crops.  Unfortunately, the sound of my favorite pollinator, the honey bee, has grown fainter in recent years due to higher rates of over-winter colony loss. These losses were initially attributed to a condition described as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Many factors involved with CCD are not yet fully understood.  Honey bee research is focused on gathering data from multiple angles to increase the understanding of overall honey bee health. Many USDA agencies and industry partners are conducting research to better understand the complexities of honey bee health and working to develop best practices to improve the honey bee population. Read more »

Students Reduce Erosion on the Hoosier National Forest

The Ohio River Foundation crewmembers Lydia Cook, Rose Guardino, Rose Johnson, Catherine Kagemann, Callie Schulenburg, and Brynne Taylor build a pollinator habitat. USFS Photo.

The Ohio River Foundation crewmembers Lydia Cook, Rose Guardino, Rose Johnson, Catherine Kagemann, Callie Schulenburg, and Brynne Taylor build a pollinator habitat. USFS Photo.

Streams will flow more freely and bees will have a new home on the Hoosier National Forest, thanks to the work of six young women from central Indiana.

The women — recent high school graduates from Bloomington High School North and South, a high school senior from Bedford, Ind., and an Indiana University student – spent three weeks in July working on ecological restoration projects in the forest.

The crew was hired by the Ohio River Foundation and funded through grants from Duke Energy-Indiana, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Read more »

South Carolina Conservation Partnership Buzzing About Pollinators

This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

Eighty-five percent of all flowering plants depend on pollinators, like bees and bats, to reproduce.

But these critical pollinators are in trouble as habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants are causing a decline of many species, including some of the more than 4,000 species of native bees in North America.

That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina and the Xerces Society, with the support of a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant, are promoting the benefits of pollinators through hands-on workshops targeted to employees of NRCS, soil and water conservation districts, cooperative extension agents and many others involved in agricultural production. Read more »

Forest Service is Aflutter with Native Plant and Pollinator Gardens

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center Native Plant and Pollinator Garden is located along an accessible walkway with views of the highland Scenic Highway. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Diana Stull)

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center Native Plant and Pollinator Garden is located along an accessible walkway with views of the highland Scenic Highway. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Diana Stull)

With a view of majestic mountains in the background, visitors to the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center of the Monongahela National Forest find themselves immersed in a bevy of beautiful plants in bloom and fluttering monarch butterflies. Beneath the natural grandeur, a very essential ecosystem service is taking place – pollination.

In celebration of National Pollinator Week, June 17-21, 2013, the Forest Service invites you to come and visit the beautiful gems called Native Plant and Pollinator gardens currently in bloom in the Eastern Region. Read more »

The Buzz at the Top of USDA’s Whitten Building

by Wayne Bogovich, The Peoples Garden Apiary Beekeeper

Folks in the area are welcoming USDA’s newest residents, bees!  The People’s Garden at USDA headquarters added a beehive in The People’s Garden Apiary which is located on the roof of USDA’s Whitten Building along the National Mall in Washington, DC.

USDA’s newest residents, six pounds (approximately 20,000) of bees and a queen were placed in their new home on April 21, 2010.  These bees are facilitating pollination of The People’s Garden as well as the surrounding areas.  If you’ve been to the National Mall, you probably recall that there are a lot of gardens at the various Smithsonian museums.  And if you haven’t been to the National Mall, you should plan a visit.

The hive’s location was chosen so the eastern exposure of sunlight would get the bees moving in the morning.  Directly to the west of the hive is a utility room which provides protection from the prevailing winds and bad weather along with afternoon shade to avoid the late day heat.

We check the hive every 10 days and our volunteers supply fresh water every other day.  We do this in addition to checking for fresh eggs as well as any visual parasite or disease issue in order to ensure the health of the colony.  We also monitor honey production and we add honey supers as needed.  And to facilitate the non-chemical control of mites, we use a ventilated bottom board  and remove the drone brood.

Because each of us depends on pollinators in a practical way to provide us with the wide range of foods we eat, we are doing our best in making sure our newest residents have what they need!

Wayne Bogovich, The Peoples Garden Apiary Beekeeper
Wayne Bogovich, The Peoples Garden Apiary Beekeeper