[ExI] The Bee Problem

Kevin Freels kevinfreels at insightbb.com
Tue Apr 1 02:28:31 UTC 2008

I've seen a few of you mention the declining bee population lately. I just thought I would pass this on.


Ore. Farmers Press for More Bee Research
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(AP) -- Oregon farmers are hoping that the state's premier academics will help them figure out what is causing a sudden decline in the bee population that's hitting home in the Pacific Northwest.
Bees are critical for the pollination of signature Oregon crops, from Hood River Valley pears to coastal cranberries. 
But commercial bee colonies that travel around the country to pollinate crops have been decimated in the past few years by a mysterious malady loosely known as colony collapse disorder. 
In many cases, beekeepers have found their hives suddenly empty, the bees gone and presumed dead. 
The disorder has been linked to a virus that can be transmitted by a tiny mite that infests bees. 
But little is known about the cause of the disorder. And Oregon State University, the state's land-grant university that supports agricultural research, no longer has a full-time professor focused on bees. 
Growers, beekeepers and others around the state are holding a meeting next week in Corvallis to make the case for increased research into honey bee health and pollinators in Oregon. 
Oregon State cut back faculty positions as state funding decreased early in this decade, said Stella Coakley, associate dean in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. 
But she said college officials recognize the rising concern about the health of bees. 
Coakley told The Oregonian that Oregon State has located some funding so its extension service could expand the services of its insect identification laboratory. 
In the past, the main way Oregon State has been able to expand its research positions is through endowments created with the help of private donors and supportive industries. 
For example, the hazelnut industry in Oregon created an endowed professorship focused on hazelnut research. 
Robert Whannell, who cultivates 25 acres of cranberries south of Astoria, said the beekeeper from Washington who usually brings bees to pollinate his crop lost 4,000 hives' worth of bees this winter out of 13,000 total hives. 
Without the extra bees to pollinate his cranberries, Whannell said his production would probably drop 70 percent to 80 percent. 
"We're hoping this is going to be a wake-up call that we need to be focused on this issue that affects the whole food chain," Whannell said. 
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