Monday, 1 September 2014

Bee-utiful Research: Experts Working To Improve Health Of Key Agricultural Pollinator

August 30th 2014

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online

While honeybees may be best known as producers of honey and beeswax useful for candles and seals, experts from the University of Arizona want to remind you that the insects play an important role in the agriculture industry.

“Honeybees are responsible for pollinating agricultural crops that make up one-third of our diet, including fruits and vegetables. They’re the cornerstones of heart-healthy and cancer prevention diets,” adjunct professor Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, who is also a research leader at the USDA’s Carl Hayden Bee Research Center (CHBRC) explained in a statement Thursday.

In light of the essential role the insects play in pollinating crops, DeGrandi-Hoffman and her colleagues are working to optimize the health of honeybee colonies by improving their nutrition and finding ways to better control Varroa destructors – bloodsucking parasitic mites that can cause Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) in honeybees.

“We’re the honeybee nutrition lab,” DeGrandi-Hoffman said. “Humans are healthier when we have good nutrition and so are bees. We study the effects of malnutrition on bees, including the effects of fungicides and pesticides and how they alter the ability of bees to acquire nutrients from flower nectar.”

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