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How Close Are We to Saving the Bees?

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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A world without bees would sting, to say the least.
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Correction: Our Interview with Dr. Villalobos & scenes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa were filmed by Jonathan Keao, whose name was misspelled in the credits. We apologize for this error. Find more of Jon's work at

Beekeepers are losing 40-45% of their colonies each year, so scientists, farmers, and engineers are foraging for answers and creative solutions to save the bees. But how close are we?

A lack of bees would impact more than just our ability to access honey. Without bees, up to 1/3 of crops could be affected. A world sans bees could jeopardize our entire economy, health, and your second cup of coffee.

The last time you heard about bees in the news, it might have been connected with colony collapse disorder, or CCD. CCD was a series of strange, sudden disappearances of entire colonieswhere workers left behind a queen, some young, and plenty of food.

And while scientists havent pinned down what the cause of CCD is, researchers agree it is a combination of the perilous Ps.

The perilous Ps (parasites, pathogens, pesticides, and poor nutrition) combined are a major threat to bee health.

While being able to monitor bee hives in real time with sensors like Nectar is helpful in uncovering which one of the four Ps is potentially affecting the colonies, we also need to figure out how to prevent the problems from happening in the first place.

Some ideas include helping bees fight off different viruses by providing them with a super vitamin and improving bees' nutrition.

Learn more about the perilous Ps, the technology being created to monitor hives, and what is being done to help save the bees, on this episode of How Close Are We?

#Bees #Technology #Beekeepers #HowCloseAreWe #Seeker #Science

Read More:

The Super Bowl of Beekeeping
"On a hot February afternoon in Chowchilla, about 45 minutes north of Fresno, Johnston pulled up to an orchard in bloom. The trees appeared from afar to be still, but they were in fact vibrating with activity. 'The almond pollination is the Super Bowl of beekeeping,' Johnston told me. His family has been in the bee business for 110 years."

Nectar Puts Sensors in Hives to Help Save the Bees
"Nectar wants to modernize beekeeping, which hasnt changed its traditional methods for the past 100 years. Those traditional methods are manual and disruptive, with beekeepers physically opening up hives each week to check in on them, which agitates the bees and reduces their honey production. Once inside the hive, beekeepers usually rely on inaccurate, gut reactions to the look, sound and smell to determine its overall health."

Extracts of Polypore Mushroom Mycelia Reduce Viruses in Honey Bees
Waves of highly infectious viruses sweeping through global honey bee populations have contributed to recent declines in honey bee health. Bees have been observed foraging on mushroom mycelium, suggesting that they may be deriving medicinal or nutritional value from fungi. Fungi are known to produce a wide array of chemicals with antimicrobial activity, including compounds active against bacteria, other fungi, or viruses. We tested extracts from the mycelium of multiple polypore fungal species known to have antiviral properties. Extracts from amadou (Fomes) and reishi (Ganoderma) fungi reduced the levels of honey bee deformed wing virus (DWV) and Lake Sinai virus (LSV) in a dose-dependent manner. In field trials, colonies fed Ganoderma resinaceum extract exhibited a 79-fold reduction in DWV and a 45,000-fold reduction in LSV compared to control colonies. These findings indicate honey bees may gain health benefits from fungi and their antimicrobial compounds.

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