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Extension > Source - Winter 2009 > Help for honeybees

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Help for honeybees


Extension entomologist Marla Spivak performs research to learn what is harming honey bees. Her research focuses on keeping bees healthy.

For Extension entomologist Marla Spivak, reaching into a hive of swarming bees is business as usual. But she's less concerned about getting stung than she is about honey bee survival.

Spivak's research counters the recent decimation of millions of honey bees. "One-third of our food depends on pollinating honey bees," she says. "Bees are vital to our nation's food supply."

Honey bees are critical to the production of many Minnesota crops, including alfalfa, clover, canola and plants commonly found in vegetable gardens, like cucumbers and carrots.

We also depend on honey bees for their production of propolis, a sticky resin with disease fighting properties. Spivak's cross-disciplinary team of medical, agricultural and entomological experts is screening propolis for the complex compounds found to combat both bacteria and viruses like HIV, which could lead to a major public health breakthrough.

For more information on Spivak's work with honey bees or Extension beekeeping classes, visit

You can help ensure research on honey bees continues into the future with a donation to University of Minnesota Extension. To support the University of Minnesota Bee Center Fund, write "Extension Bee Center Fund #7168" on the envelope included in this issue of Source, or give online by visiting

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