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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Objectives
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Bees are vital to agriculture.  The commercial production of more than 90 crops are accomplished through bee pollination.  The honey bee is the best known crop pollinator, but recently, honey beekeepers have been facing a bee health crisis, and significant scientific time and effort has been put into identifying the cause.  The issue can be viewed as a more general problem, one of a declining availability of pollinators for agriculture.  As such, another approach to avoiding the crises can be taken, and that is to evaluate the diversity and use of many species of bees.  Our plan addresses three main objectives:

  1. improve native bee diversity and abundance, and knowledge of their biology,
  2. deliver improved pollinator management systems, and
  3. develop effective disease management systems for non-Apis bees

Our results will develop an understanding of the causes behind pollinator declines, improve pollinator availability, improve crop quality and production for pollinated crops, and enhance the development of new cropping methods (such as covered row crops).  Our overriding goal is to provide agriculture with a tool box of pollinators, however, all bees have their own diseases and parasites and are susceptible to environmental use of pesticides and loss of habitat.  Research is needed to identify and control negative impacts of these factors.  In addition, many species of wild bees provide free pollination services for agricultural crops and maintain plant reproduction in our rangelands and other natural wild areas, and thus it is important to evaluate and protect their populations


Last Modified: 4/8/2009