Narrator: On average, one out of every three
bites of food you eat is directly related to them. They’re responsible for more than 100
crops in the U.S., including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. And their work adds up to some $20 billion to $30
billion in U.S. agricultural production each year. They are honey bees. They are big business… and in big trouble. Whole colonies are dying in record numbers.
Why is a mystery. Penn State, one of the country’s leading honey
bee research facilities has been investigating the problem. Both in the lab and in the field,
an effort being lead by Dr. Christina Grozinger. Grozinger: Losses in the winter
are very high, so about a third of colonies that beekeepers have are lost. Narrator: Her team, made of up faculty and
students, is a unique collaboration of researchers from different disciplines looking at a number
of different systems: honey bee genomics, bioinformatics and insect physiology. All
with one goal in mind–to help the honeybee grow and thrive in the face of this crisis. In the U.S., honey bees account for about 80 percent of all insect pollination. Fewer bees could lead to smaller harvests… and higher food
prices. The stakes are high. Grozinger: Honey bees are really
critical pollinators and if we can understand how they’re responding to these different
stressors and find ways to make them respond better and buffer them, then I think we’ve
done something really important for not only agriculture, but also for our ecosystems. Narrator: Penn State, Inspiring Research.