Bee Palooza at MSU!

By Chelsea Richardson

Blue-Eyed Mary and a Bee

Blue-Eyed Mary and a bee in Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Marilyn Keigley

This past Saturday, Michigan State University hosted its Bee Palooza event, which marks the beginning of National Pollinator Week.

Honeybees and other pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat, but believe it or not, U.S. honeybee colonies are declining at a rate of 30% or more a year.

Late in 2006, U.S. beekeepers noticed that in certain colonies adult bees abruptly disappeared, leaving the queen and her brood alone in the hive. This syndrome is called “Colony Collapse Disorder” and is focused on honeybee pollinations which have steadily declined since the 1990s.

Honeybees are not native to Michigan, but there are 400 native bee species in the state that are pollinators; the health of these populations is yet unclear. Rufus Isaacs, an entomology professor at Michigan State University, studies pollination of berry crops. “To be honest, we don’t really know anything about long-term trends in their populations because there hasn’t been any careful monitoring of them over the years,” he said.

Isaacs and others in MSU’s entomology department put on the Bee Palooza event, in part as an opportunity to show people how to create their own “hotel” for native bees in their back yard. And if you are worried about getting stung, experts at the Palooza said that native bees are submissive, so they won’t hurt you.

Pollinator week is still going on. Visit the MSU Horticulture Garden or build your own bee hotel!

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