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Natural Buzz: How To Make Bee-Friendly Farms

One of the biggest challenges we have in
the century, maybe the biggest one is how to feed ourselves, 7 billion plus, without wrecking the ecosystems that support that food supply in the first place. That
big challenge is one of the reasons that we study bees in pollination. About 2/3
of the most important crops in the world require bees and other pollinators to
produce the food we grow them for. Pollination is incredibly valuable to
our farmers and to our societies and to our food supplies. It’s worth billions of
dollars every year. The problem is that a bunch of these pollinator populations
and bee species are in decline, so we really need to figure out how to keep
them healthy in our landscapes. We’re working with local farmers and we’re working with them to study wild bees. Wild bees are our native species that
are naturally occurring given the right habitat. We’re interested in which
species pollinate what crops as well as what sort of landscape support bees and
how to accurately calculate how bees improve crop yield. So what we really
want to do with this research is help farmers understand how they can manage their land to not only conserve bees and other pollinators, but also do it in a
way that helps them with their bottom line. Some ways that have been shown to
promote wild bees on farms are maintaining wildflower strips delaying
or limiting pesticide use and general organic farming practices. So what we’re
trying to do here and in a lot of projects with collaborators around the
world there’s line up to things that aren’t typically aligned, and that’s
economics and the conservation of nature. And if we can do that, if we can find
ways to do both in the same landscapes, these working landscapes, and we have a
chance of ensuring a sustainable food supply, but also conserving biodiversity
in the natural world while we do it.

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