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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs