Extension News

New Iowa Publication on Protecting Bees Complements New National Web Resource

7/30/2009

AMES, Iowa -- Honey bees play a key role in Iowa’s agroecosystem – to the tune of an estimated $92 million annually as plant pollinators. Iowa beekeepers manage about 30,000 colonies of honey bees that produce more than 3 million pounds of honey annually.

Colonies of bees can be severely affected by improper use of insecticides. Lack of awareness, rather than intent to do harm, is the underlying cause of most bee poisoning incidents.

Protecting Bees in Iowa: What’s Your Role? is a new Iowa State University Extension publication that lists actions pesticide applicators and beekeepers can take to protect honey bees. Communicating before taking action is important. The publication (PAT 47) and a downloadable file are available in the ISU Extension Online Store.

National bee health resource
Researchers and educators from America’s land-grant universities, government agencies and industry have banded together to provide a comprehensive resource for science-based information on bee health management strategies. It’s on eXtension, (pronounced E-extension), at http://www.extension.org/bee_health.

The site provides help for new and inexperienced producers, as well as those with experience but who need an answer to a specific question. The site includes answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). If a question cannot be found in the FAQs, eXtension’s “Ask an Expert” feature can be used for a quick response. The site also includes in-depth, peer-reviewed articles covering bee biology and production.

Pollinator losses
In “A Survey of Honey Bee Colonies Losses in the U.S. Between September 2008 and April 2009,” the Apiary Inspectors of America and researchers at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Honey Bee Lab found that colony losses are still high in the majority of operations surveyed. Overall the colony losses were 28.6 percent. According to Andrew Joseph, state apiarist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the survey showed that Iowa’s bee colony losses were 63.9 percent.

These losses underline the need to get the most up to date and accurate information to beekeepers to improve bee health and continue to improve survival. “Declining honey bee health is complex and the answers that are needed to improve colony survival will only come from a concerted effort by a diverse group of scientists, beekeepers, extension specialists and other interested parties working closely together to improve honey bee health,” said Jeff Pettis, research leader at the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory.

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Contacts :

Betsy Buffington, Entomology, (515) 294-7293, bbuffing@iastate.edu

Andrew Joseph, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, (515) 326-5765, Andrew.Joseph@Iowaagriculture.gov

Jeff Pettis, USDA-ARS, pettisj@ba.ars.usda.gov

Lynette Spicer, Extension Communications, (515) 294-1327, lspicer@iastate.edu