Scientists with UT Institute of Agriculture Investigate Pollinator Health

MILAN, Tenn. – For the past decade, pollinator populations, particularly honeybee populations, have been in decline. Researchers say this phenomenon of global honeybee loss, called Colony Collapse Disorder, represents a major challenge for the scientific and agricultural communities.

“Honeybees are by far the most important commercial pollinating agents in the world,” says Mohamed Alburaki, postdoctoral research associate with the University of Tennessee’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. “The pollination effect of just the honeybee species on only U.S. food crops was estimated to be $15 billion in food crop value.”

Alburaki also added this: “We should also keep in mind that if the bees disappear on a large scale, 80 percent of the vegetables and fruits we enjoy eating would no longer be available.”

Alburaki is contributing to numerous studies on pollinator health taking place at the UT AgResearch and Education Center at Milan, as well as farms across the region. While the focus of Alburaki’s research is the impact of agricultural pesticides on honeybee health, he says there are many other factors that are known to contribute to pollinator decline. Those factors include loss of habitat, climate change, honeybee industrialization, pests and diseases.

“These studies are important so we can close the knowledge gaps concerning pesticides and other factors and their impact on pollinators,” says Alburaki. “Global sustainable plans and strategies capable of enhancing pollinator diversity and survival are strongly needed.”

Alburaki will present his research findings on pollinator heath and cover ways farmers can minimize the adverse effects of agricultural practices at the Milan No-Till Field Day. The event is scheduled for Thursday, July 28, 2016. Alburaki is part of a tour titled, “Opportunities to Protect and Promote Pollinators in Agricultural Landscapes.” The tour also features presentations from biologists on pollinator species and establishment and maintenance of pollinator habitats. Presentations begin at 7 a.m. and repeat until 2 p.m.

For more information on the 40 research presentations offered at the Milan No-Till Field Day, go to or call 731-686-7362.

Contacts: Mohamed Alburaki Ginger Rowsey
(731)-425-4759 (731) 425-4768