Additional funds spur research on honey bees’ colony collapse disorder

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff recently said Pennsylvania will increase funding to continue research on the potentially devastating honey bee colony collapse disorder.

A team of experts, including Pennsylvania acting State Apiarist Dennis vanEngelsdorp, rallied to address colony collapse disorder.

In January 2007, the Department of Agriculture — just one of two state agriculture departments on the national working group for the disorder — began providing direct funding to Penn State University researchers.

More money

May 6, Wolff unveiled the commitment of an additional $20,400 for a current research project called Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bees: Defining Associated Pathology and Enabling Reuse of Equipment.

With this new funding, total research dollars are $86,000 in emergency monies in addition to $800,000 in sustained multi-year funding.

The funds are helping to protect the pollinators through the study of pathogens and parasites, the survey of bees for the prevalence of diseases including autopsies, the purchase of equipment and administrative costs.

The research program has also secured more than $200,000 in additional industry investments and federal grants.

In 2006, Pennsylvania beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their beehives. Adult bees were vanishing. They abandoned their newly hatched brood but no dead bees could be found.

Focus

The researchers are focusing on three different culprits that may be leading to the colony collapse disorder: pathogens, environmental chemicals and nutritional stress.

“We haven’t found a single factor on its own that can explain the disorder,” said vanEngelsdorp.
“As studies continue, we will work to find the combination of factors that are contributing to the problem.”

To complement the research, vanEngelsdorp said consumers can do their part to protect the honey bee population by becoming beekeepers, purchasing locally produced honey and planting a pollinator garden.

For more information about the colony collapse disorder visit, www.maarec.cas.psu.edu.

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