Antibiotics rules create buzz for bee doctors

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan State University is hunting for veterinarians willing to treat bees. MSU’s Pollinator Initiative launched the search after a recent Food and Drug Administration decision outlawing over-the-counter antibiotics for all food-producing animals went into effect this year. Medication for cows, pigs, chickens and bees is no longer available over the counter after low levels of antibiotics were detected in the food. “The concern is that if it’s not well-regulated, antibiotics can get in the food supply, and then people get low doses,” said Meghan Milbrath, a beekeeper of 23 years and a research associate in the MSU Department of Entomology. “And all of sudden you are resistant to those antibiotics.

City bees pollinate urban education

Capital News Service
LANSING — Urban beekeeping is an increasingly popular teaching tool that also provides support for the threatened pollinators. “Rooftops and balconies are great places for beehives in the city because the bees will fly above everyone,” said Meghan Milbrath, the coordinator of the Michigan Pollinator Initiative Project. Her program at Michigan State University addresses bee health and pollination across the state. Milbrath coordinates the care of beehives at the Student Organic Farm and the Bailey Greenhouse and Urban Farm at the university. Two hives were installed on a dorm balcony last spring.

Grassland biofuels better for bees, researchers find

Capital News Service
LANSING – A hand-held vacuum seems an unlikely tool in a field ecologist’s kit. But sucking up bees from sunflowers was a necessary step in assessing how human energy needs may affect Michigan pollinators. Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin recently published a study comparing the effects of two types of biofuel production on Michigan’s bee populations. Biofuels are fuels derived from renewable plant or animal sources that can reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The study compared two sources of biofuels: annual biofuel crops, such as corn and soybeans, and perennial biofuel crops, like prairie grass and switchgrass.

Intensified efforts, MSU research project to save bees underway

Capital News Service
LANSING – Bees are declining in the northeastern United States and southern Canada, according to a recent study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded Michigan State University a $6.9 million grant to develop sustainable pollination strategies for specialty crops. Bee pollination is necessary for the production of many crops, including apples, blueberries, grapes and leafy greens. “Bees play a key role in the productivity of agriculture through the pollination of fruits and vegetables,” according to the Honey Bee Research Centre at the University of Guelph in Ontario. “Without effective pollination we would face higher food costs and potential shortages.”
National Geographic magazine recently reported that beekeepers in the U.S. lost about 25 percent of their hives in 2013.