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Virginia Tech to hire beekeeping specialist

Virginia Tech to hire beekeeping specialist

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A honeybee forages on dry-land cress flowers in Montgomery County.

Later this year, beekeepers across Virginia will again have an apiculture expert to help them keep their honeybee hives healthy.

Virginia Tech’s entomology department is in the process of hiring a non-tenure track apiculturist, who will provide extension services, teach courses related to beekeeping and do research, department head Tim Kring wrote in an email.

The new hire will “work directly with county agents, beekeepers, homeowners, producers and the general public,” Kring wrote. The new hire also will teach general entomology and beekeeping courses, he added.

Richard Fell, a professor and researcher specializing in honeybees, provided extension support for beekeepers until his retirement in 2010.

Fell, who came to Tech in the late 1970s, continues to do research in the department, and is one of four collaborators on a five-year, $1.4 million project through the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to search for major factors in colony deaths.

Beekeepers across the commonwealth lost 46 percent of their hives in 2015, according to state figures. Virginia officials are working on a state-wide pollinator protection plan to help boost survival rates.

“This position is critical as pollinator health protection plans develop and are implemented,” Kring wrote.

The position is expected to be filled by fall.

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