I’m passionate about bees. For most of my adult life, I’ve worked with bees either as a beekeeper or as a scientist studying bees or both. Through the years, I’ve always seen it as part of my job to educate people on the importance of bees to our survival and underscore they are the very foundation upon which most of agriculture is built. Unfortunately to so many, these fascinating and important insects are at best unseen – and at worst – viewed as pests.
Recently, a disease syndrome called colony collapse disorder (CCD) has become a threat to economically sustainable beekeeping worldwide, which is a real problem for food production.
Though small in size, honey bees are the workhorse of the agriculture world. In fact, one mouthful in three of the foods we eat directly or indirectly depends on pollination from these amazing creatures. Crops from nuts to vegetables, alfalfa to apples, and cantaloupes to cranberries all require pollinating by honey bees. Cornell University values the impact of honey bees to U.S. as more than $14 billion annually. That’s lots of value in a small package.
The attention CCD brought was needed, and the heightened concern on bee health is warranted. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some landmark discoveries pushing us forward towards a solution. Remebee®, a product I had a hand in developing, which is designed to help bees and their colonies avoid infection from viruses that may cause CCD, is going through the approval process at the FDA. We’ve made significant progress and we’re moving through the final trials and studies needed before we can bring to market this product to beekeepers.
As a scientist, this can sometimes mark the end of the path; discover something scientifically interesting, prove it works and then move on to new research. But as a beekeeper, I know the next step – bringing an approved product to market – is essential in putting the science to work and realizing its full potential.
It’s one of the reasons why the purchase of Beeologics by Monsanto is coming at a good time. Monsanto is a global leader in agricultural sciences and has a proven track record of shepherding products from discovery through the regulatory process and to broad commercialization in the field. I can tell you that their leadership team and scientists are just as passionate about helping growers and agriculture as we are.
As a scientist, it’s gratifying that research we’ve been working on may have an opportunity to be tapped for much broader use in agriculture; potentially helping growers around the world meet the ever increasing demands being placed on agriculture worldwide.
By Nitzan Paldi
Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, Beeologics