USDA Office of Communications sent this bulletin at 07/03/2012 09:41 AM EDT
Keeping Bees Busy And Buzzing
A new TV feature is available on the USDA FTP site. The new TV feature can also be seen on USDA's YouTube channel and seen and downloaded as a video podcast.
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FEATURE – KEEPING BEES BUZZING AND BUSY
INTRO: U-S-D-A researchers are working to help people learn about bees while trying to figure out why some bee colonies are disappearing. The USDA’s Bob Ellison has more. (1:54)
BEES ARE A CRITICAL PART OF OUR AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM. THEY HELP POLLINATE FLOWERING PLANTS, INCLUDING FOOD CROPS. THE
U-S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE’S AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE IS TEACHING THE PUBLIC ABOUT BEES AT THE SMITHSONIAN FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL ON THE NATIONAL MALL IN WASHINGTON, D-C.
Bart Smith, USDA ARS Entomologist: Honeybees are needed in order to set the fruit on squash, cucumbers, apples, cherries, blueberries, almonds, and a host of other crops in the U-S.
A-R-S STUDIES BEES AND THREATS TO THEIR HEALTH, INCLUDING MYSTERIOUS BEE DISAPPEARANCES.
Smith: For the last five or six years, beekeepers have been losing between twenty and thirty percent of their bees each Winter. That is entire colonies die and that’s unsustainable. It’s a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, but we don’t know exactly what is causing that. Probably pesticides are involved; probably loss of bee forage and habitat is involved. We know that some pathogens and pests and parasites are involved.
SMITH SAYS WHILE BEES ARE NOT GOING EXTINCT, HE ADDS THAT TROUBLE FOR BEEKEEPERS CAN MEAN TROUBLE FOR FARMERS.
Smith: There’s about two and a half million honeybee colonies in the U-S, and probably over half of them are owned by commercial beekeepers and they’re rented by growers of close to a hundred crops all across the U-S for pollination of those crops.
Bob Ellison, USDA: Researchers say people can help the bee population by supporting local beekeepers, decreasing pesticide use and planting a diversity of flowers. In Washington, D-C for the U-S Department of Agriculture, I’m Bob Ellison.