bees

Near Esparto, in the beautiful Capay Valley region of central California, 1,400 young almond trees flourish in a century-old orchard overlooking the hills. Since November, they've stood in perfect rows without a hint of foliage — resting, naked and dormant, for the upcoming growing season. Their branches now swell with bright pastel blooms in preparation for pollination.

You know those nasty brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple? Those spots and other problems — like blossom blight and yellow leaves — are often caused by fungi. Apple growers usually fight back with fungicides, but a new study has found that those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

"The long-standing assumption is that fungicides won't be toxic to insects," says May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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  Beekeeping schools are popping up across the commonwealth starting this weekend, teaching beginner to expert level courses how to raise honeybees.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

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  Western Kentucky University is hosting a three-day seminar dedicated to one of the fastest growing industries in Kentucky. About 400 beekeepers from a half dozen Midwest states are in Bowling Green through Saturday. Heartland Bee-Keepers Association president.

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The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is planning a second public forum on the state's plan to protect pollinators such as honey bees.

Flowers generate weak electric fields, and a new study shows that bumblebees can actually sense those electric fields using the tiny hairs on their fuzzy little bodies.

"The bumblebees can feel that hair bend and use that feeling to tell the difference between flowers," says Gregory Sutton, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

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Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture is seeking public input on the state’s first pollinator protection plan. The plan lays out best management practices in an effort to slow the rapid die-off of honeybees and other pollinators.

Keeping honeybees healthy has become a challenge for beekeepers. One main reason is a threat that has been wiping out bees since the late 1980s: the varroa mite.

"It's a parasitic mite that feeds on the blood of adult bees and on the brood. It also transmits virus, and it suppresses the immune system of the bees," explains Penn State honeybee expert Maryann Frazier.

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