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Researcher finds answers to food security with honeybees


Stephany Alvarez-Ventura ’09, MS ’11 is finding answers to food security by studying honeybees.

Colony collapse disorder, a serious issue in agriculture and food security, occurs when worker bees abruptly disappear from a beehive. Alvarez-Ventura examined the effectiveness of different methods for controlling Varroa destructor mites, the honebybee parasite that is responsible for spreading viruses in the colony that causes the bees to disappear.

Crops like broccoli, carrots, apples, almonds, alfalfa and onions depend solely on insect pollination. Without the honeybees needed to pollinate these crops, Alvarez-Ventura explains, growing human populations will have less access to these fundamental fruits and vegetables, and prices to buy them at local stores will increase.

Alvarez-Ventura will use her findings to recommend sound farming and beekeeping practices and policies to better ensure long-term food security.

Alvarez-Ventura graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s in environmental studies from the Department of Earth and Environment in the College of Arts & Sciences. She is currently the program coordinator for the Agroecology Program.