More than $4 million will be awarded to the University of Georgia to study the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder and other diseases affecting bee populations, whose pollination is valued at $15 billion annually to U.S. agriculture.

“Bees are an extremely valuable contributor to the overall productivity of American agriculture, but invasive pests, diseases and environmental stresses are putting U.S. bees at serious risk,” Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said. “This research will help beekeepers meet the pollination demand for the nation’s food supply.”

The Protection of Managed Bees Coordinated Agricultural Project, funded through a four-year grant from USDA, aims to improve the health of managed bee populations in agricultural systems. The research will address genomics, breeding, pathology, immunology and applied ecology to explain the causes behind dwindling bee populations.

Researchers will work with the Extension community and other stakeholders to develop and implement mitigation strategies for Colony Collapse Disorder and other significant problems.

Colony Collapse Disorder became a matter of concern in the winter of 2006-2007 when an estimated 25 percent of the beekeepers in the United States reported major losses of adult bees from their hives.

Background information about Colony Collapse Disorder is available at www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd.