Honeybee Research Gets Vital Boost

UK Government Announces Grants for Pollinator Research
Despite Haagen Dazs' Help the Honeybees campaign, despite Burt's Bees efforts to save the bees, despite the fact that Barack Obama has become a beekeeper - honeybees are still in trouble. Even the fact that yours truly has made some amateurish attempts at installing a bee hive has failed to stem concerns about Colony Collapse Disorder - a mysterious phenomenon where whole colonies are simply disappearing. Now, according to The Guardian, the UK government is stepping up to the plate with a substantial offer of assistance for honeybee research - and let's not forget that there is plenty we can do ourselves to help the bees too:

"Up to £8m will be made available for research into bees by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Wellcome Trust and the Scottish government. The new funding is in addition to the £2m announced earlier this year by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to help bee research. The funding increase marks a significant rise in government spending on bee health, which previously amounted to £1.2m annually in the UK, with the vast majority spent on bee inspectors.

Bee numbers in the UK have fallen 15-30% in the last two years, mirroring steep declines and empty hives witnessed in the US, mainland Europe and elsewhere. Honeybees are vital insect pollinators, responsible for the healthy development of many of the world's major food crops.

The decline in bee health has been linked to the varroa mite which attacks bee larva, poor weather in recent summers , and agricultural chemicals and air pollution. Last year Germany banned a family of pesticides blamed for the death of millions of honeybees. But the phenomenom is still poorly understood.

Great to see funding being stepped up for such important research - in the meantime, please remember to support your local beekeepers, use insecticides responsibly (if at all!), and plant some wildflowers.

Heck, even letting the lawn grow a little can help provide valuable fodder for our furry flying friends - so next time you are tempted to mow, sit down, drink a beer, and tell your spouse that you are busy helping the honeybees.

More on Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder
Blogger Writes about Colony Collapse Disorder in his Own Back Yard
Saving the Bees
Photo Essay: Bees and Bee Keepers in Crisis

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