OSU App to Save Bees… and World

SciShort_4_14_16Maybe you’ve heard that bees are dying? If you have, then you no doubt are also aware that if the bees die, we’ll likely be following them directly. Humans are basically powerless to feed ourselves without pollination support from bees. Recently, pesticides have shimmied into the crosshairs as the number one cause of the bee die-off and thus the number one target for a solution.

In steps OSU.

OSU Research Extension has released a phone app that allows beekeepers and farmers to ensure they’re not using a pesticide that will doom mankind. It’s a pretty big deal.

“It’s a smartphone world,” said Ramesh Sagili in a recent press release. Sagili is an entomologist and researcher in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Our stakeholders have been asking for an app to go along with this publication, and they’re very excited that we now have one.”

The publication Sagili refers to is How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides, first published in 2006 by OSU Extension, and expanded in 2013 to now include the app.

The guide does everything from ranking the toxicity of pesticides to estimating the residual toxicity that would be left over. It also outlines how to apply pesticides to minimize danger to bees—and not just honeybees. Though the sweet and cute honey variety is the one most oft-noted as being in danger of die out, they aren’t the only ones. Mason bees, alkali, alfalfa leafcutting, squash, long-horn, sweat bees, mining bees, and bumblebees are also on the list of lucky devils that will benefit from use of the app.

The name of the game is communication. If the scientists learning new ways to save the bees have a direct line to teach the end-users, there’s no telling how many bees could benefit.

“Pesticide use and bee protection are not mutually exclusive,” said Sagili in the same press release. “There’s a balanced way to control pests and protect bees, both. We want this guide to be a useful tool for growers and beekeepers to make informed decisions together.”

By Sidney Reilly