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July 19, 2016

An apple orchard in full bloom: for many, a simple harbinger of spring. But for David Biddinger and his colleagues and graduate students at Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center, the delicate blooms carry the promise of a future in which bees and pesticides can do their work in harmony at fruit farms across the nation. Their work is part of ongoing efforts across the College of Agricultural Sciences and throughout the University to develop a holistic approach to pollinator health, an area in which Penn State has built a strong reputation.

July 18, 2016

Elina Lastro Niño's curiosity about honey bees dates back to her childhood in Bosnia, where her father kept bees for a time. After perhaps one bee sting too many, her father gave up his bees, and Niño's interest in honey bees waned — but not her fascination with insect biology.

July 18, 2016

Air pollutants interact with and break down plant-emitted scent molecules, which insect pollinators use to locate needed food, according to a team of researchers. The pollution-modified plant odors can confuse bees and, as a result, bees' foraging time increases and pollination efficiency decreases. This happens because the chemical interactions decrease both the scent molecules' life spans and the distances they travel.

June 28, 2016

Bumble bees have discriminating palettes when it comes to their pollen meals, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers found that bumble bees can detect the nutritional quality of pollen, and that this ability helps them selectively forage among plant species to optimize their diets.

June 17, 2016

Although more than 1,000 new beekeepers have registered in Pennsylvania since 2014, it is unclear how big a contribution they are making.

June 3, 2016

Studies show that the honeybee population has diminished rapidly over the past decade. This decline is due to colony collapse disorder, a syndrome defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “a dead colony with no adult bees and with no dead bee bodies, but with a live queen, and usually honey and immature bees, still present.” The cause is unknown, although research has pointed to a variety of factors, including poor nutrition for the bees, the overuse of pesticides and exposure to parasites.

Philip Moore, Research Technologist in the Grozinger Lab, removes a large swarm from a linden tree on the Penn State campus. The cluster of thousands of bees was easy to remove since the branch they were on was already broken by the weight.
May 26, 2016

The recent swarms on the Penn State campus have come from managed roof colonies. Although swarming bees look quite frightening and dangerous to onlookers, the bees are actually quite docile and are not prone to stinging.

May 24, 2016

Bees and bee health are still making headlines, and sorely needed research results are finally starting to emerge. In early May, Horticultural Research Institute participated in a research symposium at Penn State University where early results from several research projects relevant to pollinator health were shared.

May 6, 2016

This talk given at a recent workshop of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation is notable for what it borrows. The innovation is the use of cell phones in a way that enables African beekeepers to share data. My favorite line comes early in the piece.

May 6, 2016

Penn State’s Maryann Frazier and her team use cell phones to improve honey production. Project managers weekly call a network of Kenyan beekeepers to discuss best practices for the highest honey production that maximizes income.

April 26, 2016

Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research is the bee’s knees. Committed to studying the factors impacting pollinator health and developing and implementing creative approaches to pollinator conservation, the center is on the front lines of a fight to help the hard-working honeybee that along with other insects pollinates three-fourths of America’s crops.

April 26, 2016

Since the time she was 8 years old—after attending the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Great Insect Fair—Sarah McTish knew she wanted to study entomology at Penn State.

April 6, 2016

This issue features a small urban pollinator garden, new plans for the pollinator garden at the Penn State arboretum, information about a Penn State Center for Pollinator Research collaboration to determine great pollinator plants and more.

March 11, 2016

There has been considerable discussion about the impact of pesticides – particularly neonicotinoids – on biodiversity in general and pollinator health specifically. While we have made significant progress in understanding these impacts, often missing from these discussions is whether the current neonicotinoid usage patterns actually benefit growers. As we all know (but often do not discuss), it is not simply a question of either using pesticides with no restrictions or banning them completely – the best approach is to use them in a way that maximizes the benefit while minimizing the cost to growers, consumers, and the environment.

February 5, 2016

Project Goal: Evaluate native plant species and their cultivars for their attractiveness to pollinators and their suitability for homeowner and agricultural use.

February 3, 2016

The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become the most heavily-used agricultural chemical in the history of the world, and many argue that’s a problem, since the substance comes with concerning albeit incompletely-determined health effects.

January 13, 2016

Using modern genetic approaches, a team of researchers has provided strong support for the long-standing, but hotly debated, evolutionary theory of kin selection, which suggests that altruistic behavior occurs as a way to pass genes to the next generation.

December 16, 2015

The Hippocratic Oath says first, do no harm. This pledge is exemplified by not only the physicians at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center but also facilities staff who maintain the campus grounds.

December 4, 2015

Dicamba herbicide drift onto plants growing adjacent to farm fields causes significant delays in flowering, as well as reduced flowering, of those plants, and results in decreased visitation by honey bees, according to researchers at Penn State and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.