Keeping Virginia hives alive: Researchers study effects of pesticides on honeybee health

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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