All around the country, bees are dying. And the problem that creates for humans is much bigger than you might think. Honey bees pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of the food consumed by Americans, including apples, almonds, watermelons and more. Many experts have said that the startling rate of bee deaths is linked to the growing use of pesticides.
Now, three universities are tackling the mysterious mass die-off. A total of $459,264 has been divided between Louisiana State University, Penn State University and the University of Vermont to research ways to minimize pesticide exposure to bees, the Environmental Protection Agency announced in a statement.
Penn State hopes to protect bees and crops by reducing reliance on “neonicotinoid” pesticide seed treatments, which was recently banned in Europe after being tagged as the top suspect in the bee deaths. Louisiana State University will investigate how bees can be protected from insecticides used to control mosquitoes that can be hazardous to bees. The University of Vermont aims to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast. Their goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50 percent while decreasing downy mildew, a plant disease.
“Protection of bee populations is among EPA’s top priorities,” the EPA said. That’s something we should all be buzzing about.