IMMUNITY OF BEES
The CEC is dedicated to supporting students and researchers by funding activities that can help strengthen bee health and biodiversity practices that help bees – domesticated and wild. Bees are threatened worldwide because of multiple stressors. The most significant stressors identified so far include exposure to chemical toxins, loss of flowering plant diversity (‘pollination deserts’), viruses, bacteria, mites, and other pathogens. These are the currently considered primary factors that adversely impact bee health. All challenge and harm the immune systems of bees. This perfect storm of negative co-factors is decimating bee populations worldwide. The continuing decline of bees poses a dire threat to food biosecurity and natural habitat survival.
Since agriculture is so dependent upon bee pollination services, the factory farming of bees has become essential for the agriculture of many crops, from food-bearing trees (apples, cherries, plums, peaches, almonds), crops like alfalfa to canola, to flowering vegetables in our gardens. Additionally, bees pollinate many plants not used by humans, which are essential for nature’s food webs. In the past few decades, the days honey bees fly to pollinate flowers, up to 1000 per day, has been roughly cut in half from 10-12 days to 5. In real terms, this means the reduction of approximately ½ the average number of avocados, oranges, blueberries, nuts, beans, etc. Livestock crops like alfalfa, and oil-producing crops like canola and rape seeds, although not solely dependent upon bee pollination, substantially benefit from their contact. We need innovations in agricultural science that can help bees better survive. Fungal applications have remarkable potential that the CEC will support, especially when incorporated into integrative systems.