Thursday, May 28, 2015

Role of Honeybees for Students

AUGUSTA, GA (PR) – The United States’ honeybee population has been in steep decline over the last decade or more, but a special addition to Georgia Regents University is teaching students to be part of solution.

An observation beehive in the Shetfall-Cleckley Greenhouse at GRU’s Summerville Campus was installed in April in hopes that students learn and see firsthand how integral the honeybee is to the earth’s ecological system. GRU Facilities Management Maintenance Supervisor Tim Dobbs, an amateur bee enthusiast, built and installed the hive.

Professor Donna Wear’s Evolutionary Biology class was the first group to visit the observation hive this spring.

“Honeybees are fascinating social organisms from both an ecological and evolutionary perspective. Pollinators are crucial to our global production of food. In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Professor Wear said.

The insect’s vital role in food production is why their disappearance is so concerning. Just last week, the White House outlined its strategy to strengthen the nation’s struggling honeybee and monarch butterfly populations, calling for expanding the acreage devoted to the flowers crucial to the bees’ and butterflies’ survival.

Scientists have yet to isolate a single cause of the honeybees’ demise, called colony collapse disorder, but a certain type of pesticide introduced in the 1990s has been known to interfere with a bee’s homing ability.

“The observation hive provides a wonderful teaching and learning opportunity for students of all ages, who need to be reminded of the ecological processes that feed us,” Professor Wear said.


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