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Medtech Impact on Wellness

Pesticides, poor nutrition, pests, and parasites: these are the four factors influencing bee health around the world, and the amount of information we have about each—how exactly they impact bees, whether each relates to the others, and what can be done about them—is constantly growing.

Press play to learn:

  • How a particular fungicide may be altering the bioavailability of a critical micronutrient for bees
  • Where bees are kept during commercial pollination, and how this may be contributing to poor nutrition
  • What indicates health within a bee colony, and what metrics are used to measure the health of a bee colony

Priyadarshini Chakrabarti Basu is a postdoctoral research associate at Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab, and for over a decade now, she’s been studying environmental impacts on bee populations.

Basu’s current work focuses on two specific areas within this field of research: pesticides and poor nutrition. She’s not only investigating each individually, but exploring the ways in which they may be interconnected.

When it comes to nutrition, she explains that most research to date has looked into the macronutrients required by bees, which are primarily carbohydrates and proteins. Only recently have a couple of research groups—including hers—put their focus on the importance of micronutrients required by bees.

Phytosterols are a group of molecules similar to cholesterol that are a required micronutrient for bees, as they fulfill several functions, including the production of important hormones and the maintenance of cell membrane integrity. Bees source phytosterols naturally from plant pollens, so Basu and the OSU Honey Bee Lab team is trying to collect as many types of pollen as possible in order to look at the phytosterol spectrum available to bees, and determine how they might be able to add this critical micronutrient to the diet of bees that are lacking it.

Basu is also involved in a project which is being carried out in collaboration with growers and beekeepers with the goal of following hives across multiple cropping systems in order to evaluate colony health and growth, as well as assess individual bee physiology.

The ins and outs of the research being done at the OSU Honey Bee Lab are brought to light in today’s episode, along with many other informative and interesting aspects of bee health, types of apiculture (beekeeping), commercial crop production, methods of pollination (including cross-pollination and self-pollination), and more.

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