23 December 2013

Plan Bee

A recent piece of student-led research from the University of Oregon should have people buzzing.

Declines in bee populations have at least brought the details of our relationship with these insects into the spotlight, and as this announcement of the Oregon study shows, much can be done with our new knowledge to improve the human-bee connection. The study looks at the role bumblebees play in pollination. After showing that bumblebees pollinate at a rate three times faster than European honeybees, the study lays out plans farmers can use to attract more bumblebees to their land.

The study is exciting for several reasons. First, it gives us greater insight into our interactions with bees. Second, the practical ideas it produces are beneficial to both agriculture and native species of plants and bees. Finally, it represents what can happen when people collaborate to find solutions to problems.

Fostering ideas is crucial when we are confronted with challenges. In the case of Oregon's bee study, the university empowered its students to find ideas, the students responded with research that yielded results and gave them applied experience, and the local farmers embraced the findings.

That sounds like a plan that would benefit the whole planet.

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