By Cheryl Toomey, University Relations Graduate Student

As the push for local, organic produce grows, the humble bee is being recognized as an important participant in farming rather than a pesky stinger.

John Skinner

Dr. John Skinner

Honey bees pollinate numerous crops in the United States valued annually in excess of $14.6 billion. The value of crops benefiting from pollination exceeds $119 million annually in Tennessee. However, the use of pesticides have a significant effect on these pollinators and their ability to contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

“Pollinators and Pesticides,” an information session discussing the vexing issue of chemical pesticides and their effects on pollinators, will be presented by Dr. John Skinner. The presentation will be on June 9, from 6 – 8 p.m. in the Raccoon Mountain Room in the UTC University Center. This event is free and open to the public.

The Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones and The University of Tennessee Chattanooga Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences are sponsoring this event.

The presentation will cover current research related to bees and the use of pesticides in agricultural and non-agricultural applications. Skinner will discuss the connection between pesticide use and bee decline.

While Skinner’s expertise is primarily in bee ecology, he will also review the effects that pesticides may have on other beneficial organisms.

Skinner, professor in the University of Tennessee’s Entomology and Plant Pathology Department, conducts honey bee research and serves as extension specialist in apiculture at the University of Tennessee.

He is the Tennessee State Apiculturist, whose responsibilities include education, research, extension, and treatment recommendations regarding bees. He also teaches beekeeping classes at the University of Tennessee, is an avid beekeeper, and has hands-on experience caring for honeybees.

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