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Lawrence University to expand bee research with nearly $200,000 grant

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Bee research will be expanding at Lawrence University after the school announced it’s receiving a grant of almost $200,000 from the National Science Foundation.

Throughout the past five years, a lab at Lawrence University has focused on bee research - specifically, how to make bees more comfortable living in urban areas like Appleton.

Now, a major grant is expected to intensify that effort.

Assistant Professor of Biology Israel Del Toro says “What this grant allows us to do is basically look under the hood of a bee and look inside of a bee to try and understand what it’s role in the eco-system is.”

The effort to learn more about bees also benefits the food chain as growing depends on pollination.

Del Toro added, “Bees are responsible for about a third of the food we consume. In Wisconsin, they’re important in pollinating cherries, blueberries, cranberries, or even veggies you might grow in your backyard. Things like tomatoes or chili peppers.”

The first year of research will focus entirely on the honey bee, and then the second year will expand to examine one hundred different native species of bees all found in the Fox Valley.

Students like Maggie McGlenn will be among those behind a microscope.

“I think this grant is really cool because it gives the Appleton community the ability to interact with bees and understand for themselves what is really cool about them,” she said.

The grant will also cover the cost of a new pollinator education center on campus that will host public events.

“That’s going to be an opportunity for members of our community to come by due interactive activities and learn all about the bees in your backyard,” Del Toro said, adding, “The more we learn about our bees and how to protect them, the more we can benefit from them as well or their eco-system service.”

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