Bees pollinate crops that are worth more than $15 billion annually, but over the past couple years bee populations have taken a major hit from Colony Collapse Disorder. More than 25% of beekeepers reported major losses of bees in 2006-2007. That's why USDA is providing $4 million to research CCD.
"Bees are an extremely valuable contributor to the overall productivity of American agriculture," says Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. "This research will help beekeepers meet the pollination demand for the nation's food supply."
USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service is providing a four-year grant to the University of Georgia for the Protection of Managed Bees Coordinated Agricultural Project. Dr. Keith Delaplane says the decline in bee numbers is worsening and the grant will be used in several ways.
"To determine and mitigate causes of CCD, including studying interactive affects of disease agents and environmental factors on honeybee health," Delaplane says. "Number two, to incorporate genetic traits that help honeybees resist pathogens and parasitic mites and increase genetic diversity of commercial stocks."
According to Delaplane, the money will also be used to get information to the beekeeping industry on bee management and to landowners on how to protect bees and other pollinators.