News / USA

Bee Expert Honored with Tyler Environmental Prize

Bee Expert Honored with Tyler Environmental Prize
Bee Expert Honored with Tyler Environmental Prize

Multimedia

Bees play an important role in agriculture, pollinating crops and providing us with the natural sweetener, honey.  Environmental stresses are taking their tolls on the insects, however, and this year's Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement has gone to researcher May Berenbaum, who is studying solutions to the bee crisis.

May Berenbaum says that for thousands of years, people have had an adversarial relationship with bees, because they sting.

"But on the other hand, people all over the world have developed a dependency on the honeybee because it is really the world's premier managed pollinator," noted Berenbaum.  "And here in the US, for example, over 90 crops depend on honeybees for pollination services."

Berenbaum says farmers rely on bees to pollinated crops from nuts to melons.  They are directly responsible for pollinating $19 billion worth of crops in the United States alone, each year.

But many bees have been lost in recent decades in what scientists call "colony collapse."  The worker bees suddenly disappear, and the colony dies.  In North America, it has been a problem especially in the past five years.  Although scientists don’t completely understand the problem, Berenbaum says there are many likely reasons for the collapse.  One is the long-distance transport of bees for pollination and the spread of bee diseases from one region to another.  She says the toll of disease is worsened by the buildup of pesticides in bee colonies.

As scientists like Berenbaum study the problem, she says consumers can help.

"You can buy local honey," noted Berenbaum.  "Local honey is available at local stores only because there is a local beekeeper who went to the trouble of harvesting it, so the more beekeepers there are, the more honey there is.  We have, over the last 25 years, seen an alarming decline in the number of beekeepers.  The interest is resurging, which is the best news for American bees, actually, more beekeepers."

Berenbaum says people can also help the honey bee by planting more flowers and becoming more tolerant of weeds, some of which offer food for pollinators like bees.

The bee researcher was in Los Angeles to accept the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, which is administered by the University of Southern California.  Previous recipients include the biologist Edward O. Wilson, the primatologist Jane Goodall, and conservation biologist Paul Ehrlich.  She says these and other winners are among her scientific heroes.

She says the $200,000 cash award that comes with the prize will help expand a project of hers involving citizen-scientists.

"We have one project called bee-spotters, which is now restricted to Illinois, where we ask people to go out with a digital camera, even a cell phone, and photograph either bumblebees or honeybees," Berenbaum noted.   "A citizen-scientist outside Peoria actually sent in a photograph of a species of bumblebee, the rusty patched bumblebee, bombus affinis, that was thought to have gone extinct in that area, and was recovered by a private citizen with a digital camera."

She says not least among the contributions of the bee is the honey it produces, in infinite variations.

"Every frame of honey out of a honey bee hive is a little different," Berenbaum explained.  "It reflects the flowers that went into it.  So if you like total control over your cooking, then sucrose, tale sugar, is for you, but if you like a little variety, you can't beat honey."

May Berenbaum has compiled a collection of recipes using honey in the book Honey, I’m Homemade: Sweet Treats from the Beehive, Across the Centuries and Around the World. The scientist notes that the honey bee, besides its important work as a pollinator, makes our lives a little sweeter.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs