White House Invests in Vital Honey Bee Conservation Efforts

Pollinators such as the common honey bee contribute as much as $15 billion to the United States agricultural market. With bee populations experiencing a staggering decline, the U.S. government is taking steps to try and save them.

What's the Latest?


The United States Department of Agriculture will be investing $8 million for five states to expand honey bee habitats, Reuters reports. The investment is part of a push to help support dwindling populations of crop pollinators across the country. Nearly a quarter of the country's managed honey bee colonies were lost this past winter, a continuation of a staggering yearly trend. From the Reuters wire: 

The recent increased loss of honey bee colonies is thought to be caused by factors including a loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases, loss of genetic diversity, and exposure to certain pesticides.

What's the Big Idea?

The effort to revitalize honey bee populations isn't just a goal of conservationists, it's an economic imperative:

"Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States," the White House said.

That's right: $15 billion with a b(ee). Each year, honey bees pollinate plants that produce about 25% of all food consumed by Americans. These include apples, watermelons, beans, and almonds. 

The bee crisis isn't merely an American one; European governments have reported similar declines. The heightened rate at which honey bees are dying could imperil the global food market and entire agricultural industries. If pollinator populations continue to shrink, food supplies would be cut and prices would rise to dangerous levels. This has been a fear for many years now and scientists have made many attempts to stave off colony collapse, including the production of genetically modified bees.  

It's relieving that the U.S. government recognizes the importance of pollinators to our food supply and economy. It remains to be seen whether their strategies churn out positive results.

Read more at Reuters

Photo credit: szefei / Shutterstock

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less