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Maura Bennett USDA Suspends Honey Bee Data Collection
by Maura Bennett, click here for bio

Program: Colorado Ag Today
Date: July 10, 2019

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The US Department of Agriculture has suspended data collection for its annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing the need to cut costs. Just weeks ago, the USDA published a video showing how scientists such as Steven Cook, at the Agricultural Research Service were studying ways to keep honey bees stress-free and healthy.

"For bee researchers one of the starting points for understanding honeybee health and the stresses that they're exposed to is to conduct very controlled laboratory cage studies where honeybees are exposed to these different stressors. Methodologies including genomics can play a large role in helping us to decipher in great detail the effects on honeybees."

Critics of the latest decision say the move takes away from researchers and the honeybee industry a critical tool for understanding honey bee population declines. It comes as the USDA is curtailing other research programs.

The USDA survey is one of two national surveys that tracks honeybee loss due to colony collapse disorder and other causes. It is the only one overseen by the federal government. The other survey, run by the Bee Informed Partnership, has been tracking data for longer and relies on grant funding, including from the USDA. The USDA survey is considered to be a more statistically accurate survey, since it has access to the list of all registered beekeepers in the US, but it has only been gathering data since 2015.

Bees help pollinate a third of all the crops Americans eat. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day.

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