The health of the humble, buzzing bee is directly related to the health of our ecosystem and our food security. Precipitous population declines in recent years have our federal government and businesses big and small worried. When Monsanto joins the ranks of the concerned, you know something serious is afoot.
Approximately eighty percent of the flowering plants that produce food like berries, almonds and tomatoes rely on pollinators for fertilization. While beekeepers expect to lose 15 percent of their colonies each winter, that number has recently almost tripled. Penn State University was one of the conveners of a 2012 conference that put some of our best bee minds to the task of understanding what we now call Colony Collapse Disorder; findings cite a combination of possible underlying issues that include parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
While scientists are still researching how to best help our bee population bounce back, there are inspiring examples of innovators in Philadelphia doing their part. Read on to learn out about a teenage inventor and his smart beehive, a beekeeper turned seed merchant, and your next do-it-yourself project.