Purdue University Researcher Supports Honeybee Study

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WOWO): The federal government will spend millions of dollars to figure out why honeybees and monarch butterflies are disappearing. 

Several federal agencies will be part of the study, which one Purdue University researcher says is long overdue. “The consensus on why honeybees are in decline is that it is a number of factors, and that has been the consensus for some time,” said Christian Krupke , professor of entomology at Purdue. “Those include pathogens, parasites, pesticides and habitat availability. Which of those ranks first largely depends on where those particular bees reside.” 

In the midwest, Krupke says the focus of bee disappearance is on agriculture. “We have feed more people, so land turnover is inevitable. Pesticides go hand in hand wherever people are, whether that‘s in agriculture or in homes.” 

A federal survey conducted last year showed that beekeepers had lost 40-percent of their colonies, though some later recovered. The federal plan calls for restoring roughly seven million acres of bee habitat over the next five years. “One thing we can do relatively easily, perhaps, is to transfer some of our existing areas that are monocultures of turf into something that‘s a little more diverse and has a few flowing plants in it,” Krupke said. “Honeybees eat two things – nectar and pollen. They need to get those from flowers. There is no other way, and if we imagine a world that is nothing but turf, nothing but grass, bees are not going to do very well there.” 

While he is glad to see the federal dollars come in, Krupke says it may be years before anyone knows whether efforts to save honeybees are working.