Happy Pollinator Week! At Agrecol, we understand the importance of pollinators and the role that they play in our ecosystems. That is why we are excited for the privilege of partnering with the Low Technology Institute to study bee populations and their ability to breed mite-tolerant bees. Based out of Evansville, this nonprofit research organization is studying methods to house, clothe, and feed ourselves in a post-fossil-fuel world. The goal of this project is to breed bees that are genetically tolerant to mites so the use of heavy chemicals will be unnecessary for bee colony survival throughout the winter months.
The Low Technology Institute is placing sixty total hives on our 2,500 acres of native prairie plants to study bee tolerance to mite infestations. The goal is to identify mite-tolerant bees that can be bred and distributed to other beekeepers. This eliminates the use of heavy chemicals to ensure bee survival throughout winter months when mite infestations typically cause large die-offs.
To learn more about the Low-Technology Institutes grant proposal for this project and the exact specifications, you can check it out at their website here. This project is now in its second year and typically beekeepers see an average of 44% die-off in their hives. This past winter, the Low Technology Institute experienced a 100% die-off which means they will need to start over their study this year. This is concerning and the hypothesis is that commercially available bees do not have a wide enough genetic pool to have mite-tolerant traits. To test this hypothesis, they will be replicating the experiment to see if they get 100% die-off again. To read more about the project and their latest update, check out their blog post here.
Pollinators are key to our survival and using heavy chemicals to ensure that they last through the winter is not ideal. This study can help us understand methods for natural alternatives and has the potential for great applications in the efforts to help bee populations recover. Agrecol is proud to be a part of this study and we are excited about the potential this research holds for bee populations.