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Initiative Aims to Improve Honey Bee Health

Honey bee on a flower (


An initiative led by several universities and supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeks to establish a nationwide network to monitor and maintain honey bee health. The program, called the Bee Informed Partnership, is funded by a $5 million grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Beekeeping is not only an industry in itself, but honey bees are required to pollinate crops, so the health of bees is vital to agriculture overall. Since the winter of 2006 – 2007, bee colonies in the U.S. have died in large numbers, particularly during the winters. And their disappearance has affected beekeepers large and small.

The Bee Informed Partnership will identify common management practices and develop best practices at various industry. The partnership will include institutions involved in pollinator work, but also citizens involved in beekeeping or other aspects of the problem for data collection and integration.

Projects planned for the initiative include a Web-accessible honey bee health database. Feeding the database will be surveys of colony mortality, pathogens, and parasites, as well as beekeeping management strategies, costs and outputs. The initiative expects to create a pollinator quality and availability reporting system and an emerging-issues alert system.

Pennsylvania State University in State College will lead the project. Participating institutions and agencies include University of California, California Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Appalachian State University, Lincoln University, Agricultural Research Service of USDA, Florida Department of Agriculture, NASA, Animal and Plant Health Service of USDA.

Read more: Manuka Honey Shows Potential For Drug-Resistant Wounds

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