If you’ve heard any news about bees recently, chances are it’s not positive. Most news coverage focuses on one particular issue facing our buzzy little friends; colony collapse disorder. If you’re not aware, Colony Collapse Disorder is when commercial honey bee hives just…die. Or disappear. Literally thousands of bees gone in a couple of days. Colony Collapse Disorder sort of a blanket description, because nobody’s quite sure what causes it or how to prevent it.
The disorder has really only been heavily studied in honeybee hives. Specifically, commercial honey bee hives.
These are the type of bees that you typically associate with things like beekeeping or farming. They come in box-shaped hives, they’re easily movable, and they’re typically used to pollinate crops. And, as their name suggests, they produce honey as a by-product.
Honey bees, however, are just a small sub-species in a wider category. Wisconsin alone is home to 400 unique wild bee species, most of which aren’t taken into account when researchers try to Colony Collapse Disorder and other bee-related issues.
This week on The Way We Eat, we’re taking a look at the state of bees in Wisconsin. For this conversation, I’m joined by University of Wisconsin Researchers Katy Thostenson and Claudio Gratton. Thostenson and Gratton are part of the team behind WiBee, an app that uses citizen science and crowd-sourced data to help track bee movement and health throughout the state. They hope to use the information gathered by WiBee to help farmers better pollinate fields, to create better habitats to support wild bees, and to generate a more holistic picture of the health of Wisconsin’s bees.
Photo c/o Epgui by way of Wikimedia Commons.
The music in this episode is Are We Loose Yet by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue)