Commercial Beekeeper and PAm board member John Miller has a saying: “North Dakota and California get closer every year"
This new and exciting PAm-funded research from Dr. Matthew Smart, Dr. Clint Otto and Dr. Johnathan Lundgren, provides data about the relationship between land use in the upper Midwest, and colony health of honey bees pollinating almonds.
This publication is significant in a number of ways. First, it shows a clear correlation between land use (prominence of row crops or grasslands) and nutritional health in honey bees. It also shows a direct impact on the health of colonies (number of frames) that are brought to California to pollinate Almonds in February. The correlation is not surprising: Bees summering in areas of high concentrations of row crops had poorer nutritional profiles in the fall, and fewer bees in February while colonies placed in areas with high concentrations of grasslands and natural habitat had better nutritional profiles and more bees in February.
By confirming what we intuitively know about the link between habitat, forage and honey bee health, this research provides beekeepers with a strong, clear message to advocate for policies that balance agricultural crop production with honey bee health. Since honey bees are an agricultural necessity, not only do beekeepers benefit from this knowledge– the agricultural industry and consumers ultimately benefit as well. This research gives strong reinforcement for the forage and habitat projects that organizations like PAm and The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund offer.
Another interesting piece of this publication that is worth noting is the 52 research publications cited in this work. These citations include several PAm funded projects, and illustrate the importance of honey bee research and of the collective scientific knowledge that the bee research community has discovered and documented. Sometimes research can seem insignificant on its own, and this is a great example of how all of these projects are being put together to better understand the big picture!
Many thanks to Dr. Smart, Dr. Otto and Dr. Lundgren for their long-standing dedication to research that supports honey bees and beekeepers!
We encourage you to read the full publication here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-52485-y.pd
Sharah Yaddaw, Communications Director
Project Apis m.