News Round Up: What's Happening With Bees?
There has been a lot of news about bees this summer - and deservedly so since they are not only a key part of the ecosystem in their own right, they also pollinate many of our crops. At the same time, bees are struggling to survive a variety of pressures, including habitat loss, parasites, disease, and toxins in their environment.
In spite of the bee’s critical role in U.S. agriculture, the USDA recently decided to cut funding for bee research and the honeybee census, a decision which has particularly enraged Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). This budget cutting move followed on the heels of other blows to federally funded research in agriculture, including decisions to suppress information related to climate change and to relocate two of USDA’s research arms from outside of D.C. to Kansas City, leading to an exodus of longtime staff.
In Vermont, however, research into bees is going strong.
An anonymous $500,000 gift to UVM this spring has started the Apis Fund to support bee research. This summer, a study from the University of Vermont revealed that domestic honeybees can infect wild bumblebees with viruses and a survey from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies found hundreds of bee species in our state. This Huffington Post feature article profiles how Knoll Farm in the Mad River Valley approaches working with bees and how researchers are studying the outcomes.
Vermont has also been working on bee-related policy, passing a bill this year that reduces the use of bee-harming chemicals. More action might follow in the second half of the session as bills on pesticide use continue to circulate. A study published in August on the impact of agricultural pesticides on bees suggests urgency around reducing these toxins in the bee’s environment.
Other news on the lot of the bees?
The Splendid Table radio show recently did a round up on the bee world, including a look at where we stand with Colony Collapse Disorder. The food future magazine MOLD has a five part series on pollinators and colony collapse in their most recent issue. Chelsea Green Publishing has a new book coming out September 13th, Dancing with Bees, and an excerpt published on their blog.
And, let’s not forget, we had the opening of Caledonia Spirits’ new facility in Montpelier this summer. The distiller of honey-based spirits is known for . . . well, excellent gin, but also they are known for their dedication to pollinator health and bee-related causes. Look for their annual Bees Knees Week September 23rd-29th, in which bartenders across the country raise money to support the health of pollinators.
Like we said - a lot of news about bees, we hope this helps you catch up.