bees

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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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Bees have been on decline in the western hemisphere for the last 10 or 15 years, says beekeeper hobbyist Jim Gould. This is due to reduction in habitat, invasive pests and an increase in pesticide use. On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte speaks with Gould about how beekeepers can bring populations back from the brink and how people interested in beekeeping can get started, ahead of the McCracken County Master Gardener's Toolbox program next Tuesday.

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Kentucky's chief beekeeper would like to see the numbers of her colleagues grow across the state in 2015. 

 

State Apiarist Tammie Horn said there are only a couple hundred commercial beekeepers in the U.S.  Horn, a senior researcher at Eastern Kentucky University, says the vast majority of those who tend hives in the Commonwealth are part-timers, otherwise known as sideliners.   She said these beekeepers can still see financial benefits.

 

Beekeepers from across the Commonwealth are still looking for some way to stop the loss of their hives.  The Kentucky State Beekeepers Association stages its spring meeting in Richmond this weekend.  The nation’s agriculture industry is coping with a massive die-off of the essential insect.  Besides honey production, bees are essential to the pollination of some crops.  Currently, association Vice President Jim Coss says they’re scrutinizing farm chemicals.

From NPR: Many fruit and nut farmers rely on honeybee hives to pollinate and continue growing their crop, but the honeybees just can’t do the work by themselves anymore. They need the help of other wild bees to get the job done. Those other bees, though, are disappearing, and it’s puzzling scientists.