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Grant given to study bee preservation in 5 states

October 17, 2011

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AMHERST, Mass.—Researchers in five eastern U.S. states are getting federal support to study the decline in native bee populations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's $3.3 million grant is intended to help researchers find ways to maintain a diverse community of wild bees. They're needed to keep pollinating apples, low-bush blueberries, pumpkins and other important crops.

The USDA awarded the grant to a University of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher last week.

She will work with more than a dozen scientists at the University of Maine; Cornell University in New York; the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station; and the University of Tennessee.

Researchers plan to study how the bees' diversity is affected by factors such as landscapes, farm size and pesticide use. They will also study whether the bees are vulnerable to certain pathogens and parasites.