Bees are known as some of the hardest-working insects in the animal world, but they are facing serious challenges around the planet, including a mite that has been wiping out many colonies.
However, there is some hope for these insects and it comes from a surprising source: beer.
Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman is a research leader at Tucson's Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, which studies on bee nutrition, the insects' impact on agriculture, and the parasitic and deadly Varroa destructor, a mite that can kill off the insects.
However, she says representatives from a company that processes hops for beer approached scientists and asked them to take a look at a by-product that might be used to control the Varroa mites since the product was already working on plant mites.
Researchers tested the compounds in the by-product and found it to be effective.
"And consequently last year a product came out called HopGuard and beekeepers can put it in their colonies to control mites and the product is there specifically because of the production of beer throughout the world," DeGrandi-Hoffman says. "So when people drink beer they're also helping to save bees."
DeGrandi-Hoffman says the world of bees is full of amazing details and information and she encourages people to learn more about these small, industrious creatures since they are so valuable to human beings.
For example, experts estimate that bees provide an economic impact worth billions of dollars every year by pollinating essential fruits and vegetables consumed by people around the world.
"They are the linchpins of United States agriculture," she says.