Bee Decline Threatens U.S. Crop Production

First U.S. wild bee map reveals 139 pollination ‘trouble zones’

By Basil Waugh and Joshua Brown

The first-ever study to map U.S. wild bees suggests they are disappearing in the country’s most important farmlands—from California’s Central Valley to the Midwest’s corn belt and the Mississippi River valley.

If wild bee declines continue, it could hurt U.S. crop production and farmers’ costs, said Taylor Ricketts, a conservation ecologist at the University of Vermont, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting panel, Plan Bee: Pollinators, Food Production and U.S. Policy on Feb. 19.

“This study provides the first national picture of wild bees and their impacts on pollination,” said Ricketts, Director of UVM’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, noting that each year $3 billion of the U.S. economy depends on pollination from native pollinators like wild bees.

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A UVM study of wild bees identifies 139 counties in key agricultural regions of California, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, west Texas and the Mississippi River valley that face a worrisome mismatch between falling wild bee supply and rising crop pollination demand.

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Mastering the Basics and Cooking with Confidence

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Maria Carabello wants people to feel empowered in the kitchen. That’s easier said than done, especially since home cooking is on the decline. Less than 60 percent of the suppers served at home were cooked at home in 2014, according to the Washington Post. Back in the 1980s, the percentage was closer to 75 percent.

Still, Maria believes some key instructional approaches to cooking can help improve cooking competency and help people feel more comfortable when preparing a meal.

The UVM alumna’s research focuses on the skills, strategies, and knowledge sets required to cook a meal on any given occasion. She also examines the capacity that separates those who cook with ease from those who struggle to incorporate cooking into their daily routines.

After studying nutrition, food science and anthropology at UVM, the Dublin, N.H. native went on to earn her master’s degree in Food Systems from UVM in 2015. Maria is currently working with Amy Trubek, PhD, on further developing and disseminating an instructional approach for students in the Foods Lab Kitchen at UVM.

We talked to Maria about cooking skills, the media’s influence over our modern cooking culture, and overcoming barriers to home cooking.

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Flickr/Moyan Brenn
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UVM Graduate Student Examines the Economic Impact of Food Hubs

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How exactly food hubs contribute to the local economy is a question UVM graduate student Hannah Harrington ’15 is hoping to answer in her research.

Vermont is home to about 20 food hubs, and there are an estimated 400 food hubs around the country. By definition, a food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. A food hub can include businesses that perform all or a range of these services.

While food hubs are a relatively new concept, some food hubs in Vermont have been around for a decade. We talked to Hannah, who graduated from UVM with a degree in Community and International Development, about how food hubs are making their mark on the Vermont economy.

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Ecological Agriculture Student Leads ‘Bee Campus’ Effort

Peter Chlebowski is eager for pollinators to find a home at UVM. The Pennsylvania native, who grew up on a small, seven-acre homestead where his family raises poultry and pigs while growing fruits and vegetables, helped launch the UVM Beekeepers club in April 2016.

The club currently has five honeybee colonies set up in UVM’s Horticulture Farm in South Burlington and plans to transfer the hives to UVM’s Athletic Campus by the end of the academic year. Peter, president of UVM Beekeepers, has plans beyond setting up a permanent home for bees on campus. He and the club helped make UVM a certified “Bee Campus” this winter. Bee Campus USA offers a certification program to eligible campuses to create a habitat for and promote the health of pollinators. UVM is one of 18 Bee Campuses and the only one in New England.

We talked to Peter, an Ecological Agriculture major, about beekeeping in Vermont, plans for farmsteading in the future, and the joy of fungi.

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Farmer-in-Chief: David Zuckerman UVM’ 95

david-zuckermanVermont’s new Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman is the first active farmer to occupy either the governor’s or lieutenant governor’s office in the state in more than 75 years. The UVM alumnus, who earned a degree in Environmental Studies in 1995, is the founder of Full Moon Farm, an organic farm in Hinesburg.

Zuckerman is featured in a Feb. 7 piece in Civil Eats titled, “Vermont’s New Lieutenant Governor is a Veggie-Growing Progressive” by Steve Holt.

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