Researcher asks: What's killing all the bees?

Discussion of the mysterious loss of honey bees starts the Human-Animal Studies lecture series at University of Redlands. 

"Sometimes ethics and self-interest converge in a powerful way. The mysterious loss of honey bees is one such case,” says Professor Kathie Jenni, director of the Human-Animal Studies program at the University of Redlands. “Roughly one-third of our food is pollinated by honey bees, including the majority of our fruit and vegetable supply. Something is killing bees at an increasingly alarming rate, and researchers suggest that this winter will mark the highest death rate they've ever documented.” 

To continue this important conversation, Jenni has invited Keith Delaplane, professor of entomology and director of the honey bee program at the University of Georgia, to present, “The Pollinator/Human Interface: Managing Backyards and other Ecosystems for Bee Conservation,”  as the first of three lectures offered this fall by the Human-Animal Studies program. 

Delaplane, who studies social insect evolution, honey bee epidemiology and crop pollination, served as national director of the USDA's Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project, a 17-institution consortium dedicated to understanding causes of large-scale pollinator die-offs. 

“Bee die-offs mean higher prices for many foods, in the short run, and danger to our food supply in the long run. Thus pure self-interest would indicate that we need to get clear on what is causing die-off and do what we can to arrest it,” Jenni says. “But ethics are involved here, too, as with all human-caused extinctions. The extinction of bees is an impending tragedy—not just because of how it will affect humans, but the harm that their loss will bring to many other species, and the damage to ecosystems that will result from their demise.”