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 »
In an intense around-the-clock operation, more than 60,000 worker bees have churned out 30 pounds of raw honey from a USDA laboratory in Gastonia, N.C.
The People’s Garden Initiative beehives are managed by the staff of National Science Laboratory (NSL), a part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). To support the 2011 Feds Feed Families initiative the team has donated all of the honey to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, which encompasses the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area.
The honey is a product of local poplar and Tupelo trees. In a process known as centrifuge extraction, the sweet nectar was spun from honeycomb and then poured into 1-pound bottles and labeled as shown below. Read more »
As part of the People’s Garden Initiative for Gastonia, North Carolina, the National Science Laboratory (NSL) built two beehives to produce honey without the use of pesticides. If insect control was needed, we planned to use only what was allowed for use in organic products. When Varroa mites were discovered in the hives, we used thymol, a natural oil, to control them.
Several weeks ago, we collected honeycomb samples from each of our hives to test for about two hundred different pesticides. The NSL has built a reputation for quality pesticide residue analysis. Many members of its staff have performed this work for over 20 years. The equipment we use for analysis is the latest and greatest, producing detection limits of 1 part per billion—the equivalent to one drop of water diluted into 11,008 gallons, or about three seconds out of a century. Read more »