The grant, from CoBank and American AgCredit, will fund research that will provide growers with healthier bees resulting in better pollination and increased crop yields.
The research is being conducted by Project Apis m., a non-profit organization that serves as a conduit between bee industry researchers and funding sources, which will use the donation to fund research into potentially new and innovative ways to control the Varroa mite. The pest, which weakens honey bees, reproduces quickly, and is capable of quickly spreading viruses within a bee colony, has grown to be a formidable threat to the bee industry since its discovery in the U.S. in 1987.
CoBank provides loans and other financial services to agricultural cooperatives and other agribusiness providers across the United States, including many in California. It is also the funding bank for Santa Rosa-based American AgCredit and other Farm Credit associations serving farmers, ranchers and growers throughout the state.
“We’re delighted to partner with American AgCredit in search of a solution to this major problem,” said Leili Ghazi, Western Region president for CoBank. “The mission of Farm Credit is to stand behind agriculture and the U.S. rural economy, and we hope the knowledge and insight gained from this research will reduce the threat to bee colonies on which so many producers depend.”
“For this project, we’re not only going to solicit scientists within our normal honey bee research institutions, but we’re going to approach entomologists who might be working on other pests, particularly mites in other agricultural or livestock areas,” says Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m.
“The health of our insect pollinators is crucial to our farmers and to the American public,” said Rep. Jeff Denham, co-chair of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus. “We must work to understand what’s causing the decline in health of our honey bee colonies. I look forward to seeing the funding for this research help us meet that goal.”
Project Apis m. derives its name from the scientific name for the European honey bee, Apis mellifera. Founded in 2006 and based in Paso Robles, Calif., it has steered more than $3 million into research toward improving the health of honey bees and honey bee colonies.