Bayer CropScience this week rolled out Healthy Hives 2020, a project to improve the health of honey bee colonies in the U.S. over the next five years.
The program was announced during an event celebrating the first anniversary of the Bayer Bee Care Center located in Research Triangle Park, N.C., on Monday.
Through Healthy Hives 2020, Bayer will partner with experts on bee and pollinator health and establish an advisory council to discuss strategies to improve honey bee health.
According to Dr. David Fischer, director of Pollinator Safety at Bayer CropScience, the overall number of honey bee colonies in the U.S. is increasing but lack of forage and pests like Varroa mites are major stressors.
The goal of Healthy Hives 2020, Fischer said, is to "define the current status of honey bee health in the U.S. and establish priorities with measurable goals to improve the health of honey bees through collaboration with some of the country's most recognized pollinator health experts."
Bayer's 'Feed a Bee' program
While the Healthy Hives 2020 council members will work to find solutions to improve honey bee health long-term, Bayer said it is also working to tackle a key pollinator health issue: lack of forage.
Bayer CropScience's Feed a Bee initiative is working with individuals and organizations across the country to grow 50 million flowers and to increase bee forage areas. As bees are working harder to pollinate crops, they need more food and food diversity.
Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, manager of the North American Bee Care Program, says bees pollinate one of every three bites of food consumed.
"As the world's population continues to increase, the demand for pollination services will grow so it is vital that we do all we can to help honey bee colonies continue to thrive," Langer-Curry said.
During the first anniversary celebration of the North American Bee Care Center, Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience, said the center's first year has been incredibly successful.
"The center helps us leave a better world through protecting pollinator health and providing a more sustainable future for growers who depend on honey bees to pollinate their crops," Blome said.
"The research and development innovations developed here are a necessary component of providing enough safe, healthy food to nourish a rapidly expanding global population."