Bees are crucial to agriculture and food security. They pollinate about a third of the crops we eat, valued at more than $14 billion annually in the U.S.
But this valuable resource is at risk. During the 2013-2014 winter alone, Ohio beekeepers lost 50-80 percent of their honey bees. Bees are dying in large numbers due to many reasons, including diseases, insect pests, loss of habitat and farm chemicals.
“Most corn seeds planted today are coated with insecticides, and when they are chipped off in the planter, the dust lands on nearby flowers,” said OARDC scientist Reed Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology. “Bees then carry the tainted pollen back to their hives, where young members of the colony become exposed to it.”
Johnson is studying the unintended consequences of these insecticides as well as strategies to protect bees. For example, he has tested a lubricant that is applied to the seed to reduce dust, which shows promise in field trials.
Honey bees pollinate about a third of the crops we eat, valued at more than $14 billion a year in the U.S.
… and how OARDC works to protect them
- OARDC and its outreach partner, Ohio State University Extension, work together with Ohio beekeepers and others to deliver programs promoting healthy bees and the environments that support them.
- Examples include presenting a monthly webinar series on bee health issues, holding monthly face-to-face educational programs with Ohio beekeeper groups, and starting a statewide network of 28 research and demonstration gardens at schools, parks, arboreta and OSU Extension offices.
- To contact the scientist: Reed Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.