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New research buzzing at Dalton State College

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The goal of a new research project at Dalton State College is to bring students and the community together through studying honeybees. The bee colonies arrived at Dalton State on April 11 and the two boxes are filled with more than 14,000 hard-working bees. Thanks to a donation of around $600 from the Dalton State Foundation, the Department of Natural Sciences can closely study the insects.

"We have a young and growing research program here for our undergraduates, and one of our primary goals is to teach them how to do science. Teach them how to engage the world around them critically," says Associate Professor, Dr. David DesRouchers.

Students will learn a lot about the bees by watching their behavior.

"Looking at foraging rate. How often the bees are going out and collecting resources," adds DesRouchers. "We can look at the different types of pollen that are coming in."

They'll be checked for parasites and diseases. It's a wealth of information which can be used to help collapsing populations recover.

"Those sort of things can help us to make some recommendations in terms of what might be affecting bees in this specific area and generating solutions from that information," explains DesRouchers.

Dr. Randall Griffus, Dean of the School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics wants the study to go beyond Dalton State and into the community, sharing knowledge and resources.

"We hope eventually to have classes on beekeeping on campus. Maybe some continuing ed type courses. People can come and see how to keep bees," says Griffus. "If we're successful here, hopefully we can start splitting the hives and provide bees to community people and other institutions."

DesRouchers can't emphasize enough the big impact these little critters have on our lives.

"So much of our agriculture depends upon successful pollination of plants. To do that, we need the honeybees," adds DesRouchers.

He and Griffus say there's no time limit on this project. They hope it continues past their retirements which are many years away.

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