CREVE COEUR, MO - June 19th through the 25th marks pollinator week, bringing attention to the roles agriculture and society play in protecting pollinators like bees.
Dr. Jerry Hayes wants to improve the health of Honey Bees. Monday afternoon, he asked Patrick Clark to join him at the hive.
“Oh bees, I`m allergic to them, I`m scared of them. And some people are but only one to two percent of the population is truly allergic. When you get stung and you swell up that`s not an allergic reaction. That`s just your body`s reaction to a protein being squirted into your body.”
Dr. Hayes has been buzzing around bees for 35 years, and is eager to answer questions about colony collapse.
Monday, June 19th kicked off Pollinator Week, and the Monsanto scientist who first witnessed colony collapse in Florida in the 1990’s made it his mission to help keep the bees and our human food supply continue in a symbiotic relationship.
“Bees have these wax glands on their abdomen and they bees put the cap on it. So, this is stored food and these bees are tempered insects. So, they learned how to live through a cold hard European winter. And they learned how to do it because they store food.”
But a number of factors have led to a decline in the health of Honey Bees, like a lack of forage and nutrition, a lack of genetic diversity in breeding, pesticide exposure and something called the varroa mite.
“Honeybees produce their own RNA to affect Varroa Mites. But because they`re so small and can`t make enough. So, we`ve copied it and if we can make more of it. Then feed it in sugar syrup and have them uptake it and then when Varroa feeds on the honeybee it`ll help hopefully kill hurt or damage it.”
Monsanto is working to help fight the Varroa Mite, a parasite massive in proportion to the body of a Honey Bee that is spreading disease and diminishing bee colonies nationwide.
Hayes says you can tell a Honey Bee because they`re covered with fur, to help in the transfer of pollen, which helps keep our food supply going.