Bees are such an integral part of everyday life even if you don't always realize it. Unfortunately, bees are disappearing in huge amounts all the time. Canadian bees are dying at an alarming rate and researchers want to stop that from happening.
Starting in October 2019, researchers from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and other parts of the country will spend years creating a system that will figure out what stressors are affecting Canada's honey bee population and offer a solution.
Bees are responsible for one in three bites of food but these pollinators that keep food on our plates are dying off. However, most of the time, what is actually killing them remains unknown.
"There is no equivalent to a bee vet where you take your bees when they’re sick and they tell you it’s got that problem. Often beekeepers will just visually inspect the colonies and if the colony looks good, then everything is well," Amro Zayed, an associate professor at York University, told The Weather Network.
One in every two colonies of Canadian bees dies for no apparent reason. While honey bee colonies vary in size depending on the season, during the active season there could be up to 80,000 bees in a single colony.
So when one in every two colonies dies with no explanation, that's cause for concern. That's why researchers are trying to save bees by figuring out what's wrong with them before they die in hopes of saving them.
This $10 million dollar project with researchers from across Canada will develop a diagnostic tool for bees to see what's affecting them and how to stop them from dying.
"We are essentially looking at the bees internal physiology and using that to give us clues about the specific stressors that are affecting bees," said Zayed.
Before, the only way to find out why a colony died was to figure it out after the colony had died. But this research will provide beekeepers with a real-time diagnosis.
It's like WebMD for bees but better.
All of Canada's honey bee population will be looked at with this research because of how different the environments are from coast to coast. Things like parasites, pesticides and nutrition will affect honey bee health in different ways depending on time and location.
"You know the corn belt in Ontario is going to experience a whole different set up of health stressors than a colony that’s up north near Hudson Bay, then a colony that's in blueberry fields in BC," said Zayed
The endgame for this research project is to create a system where beekeepers can send samples for testing and get back a health assessment. Plus, beekeepers will also get advice on how to better manage their colonies based on the health information found through looking at the samples.
The 22 researchers working on this project will spend four years creating a system to try and save Canada's honey bee population.