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Do We Have a “Plan Bee” to Protect Crops, Food Prices?

April 16, 2008

Columbus, OH – A mysterious problem with bee colonies that's creating a "buzz" around the country could cause problems with crops, gardens and, ultimately, result in higher food prices in Ohio.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has caused a drop in wild and domestic honeybee populations around the country. Its cause is yet to be found. In the meantime, conservation biologist Gabriela Chavarria of the Natural Resources Defense Council says, bees are needed to pollinate a number of food crops, in Ohio and around the country.

"We're not going to have the 'right' pollinators to help us to pollinate the crops or our plants in our gardens. If you like fruits and vegetables, you definitely will be affected if you're in Ohio--because the bees from Ohio come from outside the state. Ohio doesn't have a lot of beekeepers."

Farmers can't wait for answers about CCD. Some already are pollinating crops by hand, which is an expensive and labor-intensive process. The colony collapses also have prompted some beekeepers to leave the business altogether, contributing to the bee shortage.

Chavarria believes Congressional action is needed, both to approve subsidies for beekeepers affected by the problem and to fund research into its causes. Congress considered such legislation last fall, but did not act upon it.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OH