Honey Bee Health

The Challenge

Bees play a vital role in agriculture as natural pollinators.  Pollination is a necessary part of some plants’ fertilization processes, because it allows for the development of fruits and seeds.   

One-third of the food you eat depends upon pollination, including almonds, apples, berries, cucumbers and melons.   Honey bees have an important role in contributing a service that helps provide us with variety and more nutritious food. 

Farmers are facing the challenge of providing more food for a growing population.  And, the honey bee population has been facing its own problems.  Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - is a phenomenon in which bees are disappearing abruptly from an otherwise healthy colony.  The USDA report confirms that there are many causes that compromise bee health, including pathogens or diseases, poor nutrition and pesticides.

 

What Monsanto is Doing to Help

As a company solely focused on agriculture, we recognize the importance of bees to both our business and growers.  We are committed to supporting honey bee health and researching solutions for these complex issues.

PAm (Project Apis m.) Collaboration

Monsanto is collaborating with PAm to assist in forage projects in order to provide more nutritious food for bees.  Beekeepers are often concerned with whether there is enough forage or food available during pollination seasons.  The availability of natural pollen equates to healthier bees, and healthier bees are better able to tolerate stressors. By planting a variety of plants to contribute to the available pollen, this collaboration will help enable around 1.6 million honey bee colonies, which are annually transported to the California almond fields, to have access to increased nutrition sources during their work in California. 

Honey Bee Advisory Council (HBAC)

The Honey Bee Advisory Council is comprised of members of the beekeeping industry, experts and academia. We have learned a great deal about the complicated challenges facing beekeepers.  With this council as a guiding force, our bee health research and development efforts are focused on the leading challenges.

Beeologics

In 2011, Monsanto acquired the Israel-based company, Beeologics. Beeologics research focuses on testing biological products to provide targeted control of pests and diseases in order to provide safe, effective ways to protect the honey bee.  For example, a major factor of Colony Collapse Disorder is credited to the parasitic varroa mite.  This mite weakens bees’ immune system and spreads viruses.

Currently, BioDirect - our first biological technology platform - is in discovery phase, but has shown promising results in testing that it could be effective against specific insects, such as varroa mites, while leaving beneficial insects unaffected. To put it simply, research is being done to control a problem insect on a beneficial insect.

Additionally, field trials are creating tremendous datasets that will be helpful to continuing research and the beekeeping community. 

Honey bees are essential for productive agriculture and the environment. The collaboration with PAm, the Honey Bee Advisory Council and Monsanto provides a strong foundation to help to find sustainable solutions to bee health.