USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

i-444139857119df75e153ae7b3be8bc3d-Dennis vanEngelsdorp Photo.jpgBees represent some of the most resilient, adaptable and enterprising insects on earth. Not only that, they pollinate about one-third of all the food we eat. So when honey bees began dying or disappearing at alarming rates in the U.S. and around the world more than four years ago, scientists such as Nifty Fifty Speaker Dennis vanEngelsdorp, as the acting Pennsylvania state apiarist (beekeeper) and one of the nation’s most prominent advocates and researchers of bees, was naturally deeply concerned. “Bees and other pollinators are a barometer and referendum on the state of our environment,” says Dennis, who serves as a senior extension associate in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “They’re a reminder of the brilliant and frightening interdependence of our ecosystem.”

Dennis and other researchers have traced part of the mysterious disappearance and death of bees to what they term Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a complex condition where nutrition, parasitic mites, bee diseases and pesticides seem to compromise the immune system of bees. Says Dennis: “We know that CCD bees are dying from their equivalent of the flu, and so they’re getting bad viral infections. But it’s not the same flu–there are different strains and different types of viruses bees can get. CCD bees have a lot more pathogens than healthy bees do. The question is, why are these bees suddenly so susceptible to these different pathogens, and we don’t have an answer to that yet.”

What do you think we can do to help save bee populations?

Read more about Nifty Fifty Speaker Dennis vanEngelsdorp and his important work with bees here.

Watch Dennis’ passionate address, “Where have the bees gone?”:

Here is another great video of Dennis talking about what makes bees so cool:

Comments

  1. #1 amber
    June 9, 2011

    I seriously think that it is because of all the pesticides and repellents, and the genetic engineering of plants that is affecting the bee population. These chemicals were never introduced to their immune system before and over time they have started to genetically react to it.

  2. #2 amber
    June 9, 2011

    i propose to stop using pesticides and leave our food a lone. It was able to grow naturally before so why mess with a good thing.

  3. #3 Kandy Collins
    June 10, 2011

    Thanks for writing in.

  4. #4 Kandy Collins
    June 10, 2011

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  5. #5 energy balance
    June 17, 2011

    propose to stop using pesticides and leave our food a lone. It was able to grow naturally before so why mess with a good thing.