Haagen-Dazs makes second gift for honeybee research and education

February 25, 2009

University Park, Pa. — Last year, Penn State and all-natural, superpremium ice cream manufacturer Haagen-Dazs teamed up to investigate Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious ailment that has decimated honeybee colonies across the United States. This year, Haagen-Dazs has expanded that partnership with a second gift of $125,000 to support ongoing and additional research and educational programs related to honeybees.

The new funds will support the following projects:

• Two Haagen-Dazs Graduate Fellowships in Pollinator Health will be created, each offering $25,000 stipends. One will be awarded to a current graduate student and the other will be used to recruit an additional graduate student, both of whom will be working on topics such as pathogens of bees and native pollinators, the role of pesticides in declining bee health, parasites of bees, effects of infectious disease on bee physiology, and ecology and manipulation of native bees.

• The Citizen-Based Native Bee Survey, an ongoing effort to determine the species and population sizes of native pollinators in Pennsylvania, will receive $15,000.

"The information from this survey is key to helping understand the full impact of declines in honeybee and other native pollinator populations," said Dennis vanEnglesdorp, Penn State senior extension associate and acting state apiarist for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

• The purchase of high-pressure liquid chromatography equipment for pesticide analysis will be supported with $45,000. According to Diana Cox-Foster, professor of entomology and co-chair of a national working group of CCD researchers, this equipment more easily separates and allows for detection of chemicals in a sample — for example, individual pesticides in pollen, wax, and bee samples — that are potentially harmful to honeybees and other pollinators. Initial screenings can be performed using this equipment before more expensive analyses are undertaken.

"We anticipate that this piece of equipment will greatly facilitate the determination of how pesticides are impacting honeybees and other pollinators," said Cox-Foster.

• The Master Gardener Program at Penn State will receive $15,000 to support the Pollinator Education Program, a statewide initiative established with last year's gift from the Haagen-Dazs brand.

Through the program, Master Gardeners teach homeowners and gardeners how to establish local, pollinator-friendly plantings and habitats. The new funding will enable expansion of the program by which homeowners can have their own gardens certified as pollinator friendly.

In addition, demonstration gardens across Pennsylvania are being developed and maintained by local Master Gardeners. A portion of the funds will provide graduate assistantship support during the summer for the program's ongoing survey of the preference of pollinators for different cultivars of flowers at extensive demonstration gardens in Landisville, currently being undertaken by Robert Berghage, professor of horticulture.

For more information on honeybee research at Penn State, visit http://www.ento.psu.edu/HoneyBeeResearch.html.

  • A honeybee pollinating a flower at Penn State's University Park campus.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz
Last Updated November 18, 2010