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David Sparks Ph.d Bee Deserts
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: July 16, 2019

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Last winter saw one of the highest loss rates yet, according to a survey of beekeepers. The enigma that is colony collapse disorder shows no sign of abating, as nearly 38 percent of honeybee colonies nationwide died last winter, according to a survey of beekeepers by the industry-backed Bee Informed Partnership. Losses were 7 percent higher than the previous winter and nearly 9 percent higher than the average over the survey's 13-year history.  Queries went to 4,696 beekeepers managing 319,787 colonies

A national survey shows commercial beekeepers losing 41 percent of their colonies last year. But experts say the numbers of wild bees are also declining, partly because we humans are not providing enough food for them.

A lot of people like to have a really clean, manicured yard that's just pure grass. But what you're effectively doing then is creating a food desert for the bees. Kyle Grubs with the USDA Bee Research Lab in Maryland, things like the dandelions, the clover, just other wildflowers that grow around. Those are very important for the local native bees as well as the honeybees. And University of Maryland extension specialist Mary Kay Malinowski says even one home in a neighborhood putting in these kinds of plants can make a big difference.

So she says, put in as many flowering plants as you can. All different sizes. And you want to have plants that are flowering basically from spring through first hard frost. Yes, bees having their own natural food. A lot of resources in the summertime can help to ensure that those survived.

Check your local extension office or a nursery to find out the right plants that worked for the bees in your part of the country.Are homeowners and developers creating food deserts for bees and other pollinators? (Gary Crawford, Kyle Grubbs and Mary Kay Malinowski)

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