Introducing Beescape: A New Online Tool and Community to Support Bees

— Written By

Amy Duke | 4/1/2019 | Penn State University

A new online tool and community, called Beescape, enables beekeepers, or anyone interested in bees, to understand the specific stressors to which the bees in their managed hives, home gardens or farms are exposed, according to researchers at Penn State.

“Pollinators, particularly bees, play a vital role in supporting ecosystems in agricultural, urban and natural landscapes,” said Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Nearly 90 percent of flowering plant species use pollinators to set seed and fruit, which animals — including humans — rely on for food.”

Picture of a Bee

Yet Pennsylvania beekeepers lose nearly 50 percent of their honey bee colonies each winter, Grozinger added, and several wild bee species — including the bumble bee Bombus pensylvanicus — are threatened or endangered. These trends are occurring across the United States and around the world.

“We know that bee populations are declining because of several key stressors, including exposure to insecticides, reduced abundance and diversity of the flowering plants that bees depend on for their food, and loss of nesting habitat for wild bees,” she said.

Grozinger noted that bees travel large distances — several kilometers from their hives in the case of honey bees — to find food for their babies. But it has been nearly impossible for a beekeeper, or anyone interested in understanding what the bees in their backyards or farms are experiencing, to know what stressors their bees might encounter during their trips.

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