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U.C. Riverside Teams Up to Reverse Honeybee Decline

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U.C. Riverside announced Thursday that it is leading one of the nation’s largest research initiatives to reverse a decline in honeybees which threatens food crops and prices.

With a 900,000 dollar grant, U.C. Riverside will help lead a group of researchers from U.C. Davis, San Diego and Merced campuses looking for solutions to restore bee colony populations.

Pesticide exposure, the spread of parasites, and environmental changes are credited for the bee colonies crisis over the last decade. This has drawn concern as honeybees pollinate over 80 agriculture crops, which account for a third of our food.

According to a press release, the team will look into breeding programs to identify bees better able to cope with environmental stress, develop medications and treatments for sick bees, and test out “electronic veterinarians.” These are tiny devices that would be placed inside hives to give beekeepers the ability to better monitor bee health.

Lead researcher and U.C.R. Entomology Professor Boris Baer, said this kind of preventative device is key to keeping bees alive because once a colony collapses, it is too late to bring it back.