Bees

Honey bees
David Tarpy

Global warming and urbanization are threatening bee populations across the country. One factor in that threat is heat. At high temperatures, bees become unable to reproduce, fly or even walk.

So researchers from North Carolina State University recently set out to see just how much heat local wild bees could handle.

John Rintoul, Beehives, Bees, Honey Bee
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

The BeeCheck mapping system is getting a lot of attention in North Carolina since an aerial pesticide spraying in South Carolina killed millions of honey bees.

Ricks / German Wikipedia

N.C. State University researchers have found that bees are more susceptible to diseases in areas where there's more pavement and less green space.

Entomologist Dave Tarpy co-authored a report in the journal PLOS ONE. It compared the levels of pathogens in both wild bees and those tended to by bee keepers.

Image of a sweat bee on button snakeroot
Barbara Driscoll

Bees are vital to the American food system. Honey bees alone contribute more than $15 billion to the American economy through pollination of plants that produce fruits, nuts and vegetables.

This little girl is posing at her grandmother's home in Chapel Hill. She made the sign behind her to welcome the bees.
Carol Jackson

Marty Hanks loves everything about bees. He manages colonies in several counties around the state. If bees are bugging you, he will  remove them for free. But what makes Marty's business unique is not just that he removes the bees -- many beekeepers do that.

It's  that he finds foster families for them.

WUNC's Carol Jackson reports:

Honey bees
David Tarpy

Researchers at North Carolina State University have come up with a system to evaluate the efficiency and importance of different species of pollinators. 

The study's authors say insects are the primary pollinators of crops.  The researchers developed their system by looking at the behavior of bees in North Carolina blueberry fields. 

Hannah Burrack is an associate professor of entomology at NC State and a co-author of the study. 

Honey Bees
Clinton & Charles Robertson

The past year has been a bad one for America's honeybees, with commercial beekeepers reporting hive losses of up to 50 percent. Some blame the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder; others blame pesticides; and many scientists say we just don't know. 

Honey bees
David Tarpy

Honey bee populations have been struggling in recent years. New research out of NC State underlines the importance of genetic diversity as key to the honey bees' survival. The study took samples from 80 commercial colonies used to pollinate about a third of the food we eat. It found queens that mated at least seven times were nearly three times more likely to survive the season.

The honey bee is responsible for pollinating many North Carolina crops.
Bob Gutowski / Flickr Creative Commons

The company Bayer CropScience says it wants insect experts to find out what's causing a massive drop in the bee population. 

The company broke ground on a bee research facility last week and plans to add a hundred employees at it expands in Research Triangle Park.  Bayer hopes scientists will be working with bees at the new building by the end of the year.  Iain Kelly of Bayer CropScience says other insects and diseases are invading much of the bee's natural habitat.