Preventing a Honeybee Fallout

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Manage episode 218658724 series 1951941
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What would the world look like without honeybees? In theory, if there were no honeybees, it could drastically change our lives. Bjorn Lagerman, though, never wants to know the actual answer to that question. but the honeybees current worst foe, Varroa Destructor, is killing off honeybee hives at intense rates. Bjorn's in the middle of a machine learning project to save the bees from the vampirish Varroa. Below is a partial transcript. For the full interview, listen to the podcast episode by selecting the Play button above or by selecting this link or you can also listen to the podcast through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Overcast. Bjorn Lagerman: “My name is Bjorn Lagerman. I live in the middle of Sweden. When I look back in my younger days, I remember, I sat in school, looked outside the window and decided I wanted to be outside. You know, I was raised in a stone desert in the middle of Stockholm in the old town; that's a medieval town. And inside the blocks, there were sort of an oasis of water and fountains and green in this stone desert, but the streets were very old streets. And then the contrast was that in the summertime, I spent that in the countryside, and that was total freedom—you kow, lakes, rivers, forests, and my parents let us do what we wished during all the days, just come home for dinner. So when I was 22, I thought bees might be a reason to spend more time in nature. So I went to the nearest beekeeper, . . . and he sold me my first colony, and from there on, I was really hooked.” Ginette: “I’m Ginette.” Curtis: “And I’m Curtis.” Ginette: “And you are listening to Data Crunch.” Curtis: “A podcast about how data and prediction shape our world.” Ginette: “A Vault Analytics production.” Curtis: “This episode is brought to you by data.world, the social network for data people. Discover and share cool data, connect with interesting people, and work together to solve problems faster at data.world. A complex dataset with a ton of files can quickly become scary and unwieldy, but you need not fear! Now you can use file labels and descriptions to manage and organize your many files on data.world. With file labels and descriptions, you can quickly see what type of file it is, view a short description, and also filter down by file type. Wanna see an example of how data.world users are using file labels and descriptions to keep their dataset organized? Search ‘data4democracy/drug-spending’ on data.world.” Ginette: “Imagine for a minute what the world would look like without bees. The image is potentially pretty bleak: we’d have much less guacamole, fruit smoothies, chocolate everything, various vegetables, pumpkin pie, peach cobbler, almond butter, cashews, watermelons, coconuts, lemon, limes, and many more food products. Let’s not forget the obvious—we wouldn’t have honey, which man can’t replicate well. “But fruits, vegetables, and chocolate aren’t the only food stuffs that would be affected. Bees support other animal life. They pollinate alfalfa, which helps feed dairy cows and boost their milk production, and on a more limited basis, alfalfa helps feed beef cows, sheep, and goats. Statistics vary, but bee pollination affects somewhere between one to two thirds of food on American’s plates. Beyond food, bees help grow cotton, so without bees, we’d have to rely more on synthetics for our cloth. “Honeybees in particular are incredibly hard workers. They pollinate 85 percent of all flowering plants. They collect from just one flower specie at a time, and in turn, the pollen they carry fertilizes the flower’s egg cells. One industrious honeybee worker can pollinate up to 5,000 flowers a day. One honeybee hive worth of workers can visit up to 500 million flowers a year. “With a reduced bee population, it gets harder to produce food. Let’s take an example. California grows 85 percent of the world’s almonds, and it takes at least 1.7 million hives to pollinate them,

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