Though a contributing factor, farmer-applied pesticides are not the primary cause of honeybee colony loss in Virginia, according to Virginia Tech scientists Richard Fell and Carlyle Brewster.
The scientists recently took wax, pollen, and bee samples from more than 110 hives across the state and have analyzed about half of them for pesticide residues.
“We did not find excessive amounts of agricultural pesticides in the hives, but we did find a significant amount of beekeeper-applied miticide,” said Fell, professor emeritus of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Intended to kill the invasive, parasitic varroa mite, miticides can also be damaging to bees. Fell urged beekeepers to sample their colonies to determine mite infestation levels before treating. If treatment is necessary, beekeepers should use a miticide that does not cause residue problems, such as formic acid.
As more information emerges on the spread of the Zika virus, Fell also encouraged the public to be mindful that mosquito pesticides are toxic to honeybees and should only be applied when absolutely necessary.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., July 22, 2013 – Virginia Tech researchers are gathering valuable information about the impact of pesticide exposure on honey bee colony health in Virginia, helping both the apicultural and agricultural industries to reduce the loss of managed bee colonies.
Honey bees allow for the production of important crops such as apples, melons, and squash in the commonwealth of Virginia, but hives are collapsing at an approximate rate of 33 percent per year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, and continued losses are expected to drive up food costs. Despite active research efforts, a fundamental explanation for bee colony losses remains unclear.
“There are knowledge gaps with respect to pesticide effects on bee colonies,” said Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and affiliated member of the Fralin Life Science Institute. “This study will provide important information about the exposure of bee colonies to common-use pesticides and the health risks associated with these exposures.”
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ROANOKE, Va., May 13, 2013 –Besides the distinguished role of being the only insect that provides food for human consumption, the honeybee’s most estimable value lies in the pollination of fruit and vegetable crops throughout the country.
The upcoming Beginning Beekeepers’ Workshop is designed to support this asset by providing a strong foundation of knowledge to those interested in starting their own apiaries, either for pleasure or potential profit.
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