USDA allots funds for bee research

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WASHINGTON – USDA said $4 million will be available in Fiscal Year 2008 for a four-year Coordinated Agricultural Project to research ways to improve the health and protection of honeybees, which are facing serious threats that have the potential to heavily impact the nation’s food supply.
The announcement comes in the wake of declining bee populations throughout the United States due to Colony Collapse Disorder and other bee health problems.
Goal. The overall goal of the Protection of Managed Bees program is to improve the health of managed bee populations in agricultural systems. The research USDA is seeking to fund is expected to address genomics, breeding, pathology, immunology and applied ecology that explain the cause behind dwindling bee populations.
Unique to this program is that the researchers will work closely with the Extension community and stakeholders to develop mitigation strategies for Colony Collapse Disorder and other significant problems.
In fiscal year 2007, the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service committed another $1.7 million to honeybees and pollinator research, while USDA’s Agricultural Research Service will spend about $7.7 million on honeybee research focused on mites, pathogen and nutrition.
Project. In October, Agricultural Research Service will begin research on the Honeybee Health Areawide Project, which will provide robust bee colonies for early season crops such as almonds in California or squash in Florida. It will also include all major beekeeping routes, such as cherries, apples, cranberries, etc., with a focus on bee nutrition and pest resistance.
The five-year project will be funded at $1 million per year, with 2007 funded at $670,000.
The Colony Collapse Disorder became a matter of concern in the winter of 2006-2007 when an estimated 25 percent of the beekeepers in the United States reported losses of adult bees from their hives.

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