SBE Professor Frank Drummond Receives Grant for Studying Loss of Native Bees

bee on flowersInsect Ecologist Frank Drummond has received $3.3 million as part of a larger $6.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to further his study of native bees in fruit and berry pollination. Native bees are critical for pollination in the Northeast and have been declining due to parasites, pesticides and lack of wildflower habitat. Some farmers in the northeast have been forced to depend on rental hives and commercial bees to pollinate their crops.

Drummond’s research project will determine ways to reduce dependence on commercial bees by relying more on native bees. To do this, he will study how to improve environments for sustainable bee populations and provide recommendations for pesticide use.

The project will take place over the next five years and will assess the role of native bees in the pollination of low-bush blueberries in Maine, cranberries in Massachusetts, squash in Connecticut and apples in New York. Along with UMaine, the project will involve four other research institutions, University of Massachusetts, Cornell University, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and the University of Tennessee. The project is among the most extensive of its kind in the U.S.

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Photo taken by SBE student Minna Mathiasson.