Honey Bees Need Help

June 1, 2009 07:00 PM

Sara Muri, AgWeb Business & Crops Online Editor
The latest buzz in the honey bee world has been pretty quiet.
"Right now we're losing unsustainable levels of honey bee colonies every year,” says Dennis vanEngelsdorp, of Pennsylvania State University's department of entomology. "In the last three years, we've lost more bees than beekeepers can afford to replace.” 

The reason the bees are leaving?
vanEngelsdorp says it's happening because of a new phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. He says colony collapse disorder is a condition of bees that is causing colonies of bees to die quickly in a short period of time. Researches have been working to determine the cause of this problem.
vanEngelsdorp says he's worried commercial bee keepers will go out of business due to the colony collapse disorder.
What it means to you
"Honeybees are a keystone species,” vanEngelsdorp says. "Without honeybees we wouldn't produce the fruits and nuts in this country that we produce.”
Dave Hackenberg, a beekeeper, says he's experiencing bee losses in the 60 – 70% range each year. "It's kind of devastating,” he says.
"If the bees all go away, the bee keepers all go away, which will change our eating habits drastically,” Hackenberg says. He says people would not be able to enjoy apples, blueberries, almonds or other foods pollinated by honey bees.
Who's looking out for honey bees?
For the second year, Haagen-Dazs ice cream is investing in research and leading a "Haagen-Dazs loves Honey Bees” campaign.
"More than half of the flavors in the Haagen-Dazs ice cream line require ingredients pollinated by honey bees,” says Ching-Yee Hu, Haagen-Dazs brand manager. So, they want to make sure honey bees are plentiful.
"Anyone who cares about eating all-natural foods should care about the honey bees,” she says.
Hu suggests visiting their Web site for ways everyone can help the honey bees.
For More Information

You can e-mail Sara Muri at smuri@farmjournal.com.

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