Show me the honey, er, I mean, money.
Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research just received over a million dollars in three separate grants. That’s enough funds to keep them very buzzy (okay, I’m done with the puns) as they study the effects of disease, pesticides, and habitat problems on honeybees.
The largest grant brings in a cool $467,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the money will be used to study the effects of a gut parasite, Nosema ceranae, that has been devastating honeybee populations.
Penn State Professor Christina Grozinger, associate professor of entomology and the director of the Center for Pollinator Research, told Penn State News:
“Honeybees play a vital role in the agricultural system because they pollinate about 75 percent of our major global crops, including nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and nuts. This parasite interferes with the digestive system and metabolic function of honeybees, leading to increased mortality of individual bees, which in turn can profoundly impact the social structure and health of the colony. This parasite is regarded as a key threat to bee health and has been implicated in alarming colony losses.”
The second grant comes from the USDA and will put $370,000 into research on the effects of pesticides. The study, as explained by Penn State News, will “identify common ‘inerts’ in agrochemicals and other environmental chemicals used frequently around honeybees or in their preferred foraging areas; develop analytical methods to monitor and determine the fate of pesticide formulation and adjuvant ingredients within bee ecosystems; determine acute and sub-lethal effects of pesticides, their formulation ingredients, important metabolites and relevant combinations on bee physiological and behavioral systems; and facilitate integration and communication of results to beekeepers, growers, pesticide regulators, the agrochemical industry and the research community.”
The National Science Foundation is responsible for the third grant, which will give researches $300,000 to investigate the impacts of extinctions and invasions on community stability and biodiversity.
Penn State has long been interested in apiculture, the study of beekeeping. Last year the online course, Beekeeping 101, won an international Webby Award for excellence on the internet. Students are even involved with their own beekeeping club.