Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Shutdown is trouble for beekeepers

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BATON ROUGE - The government stalemate is creating trouble for beekeepers, since an important research station here is closed due to the shutdown.

The United States Department of Agriculture Honey Bee Breeding Laboratory is federally funded and has been closed for about two weeks.

Beekeeper Elizabeth Holloway says bees and bee research are important to human survival.

"To put it in perspective, every third bite you put in your mouth has been pollinated by honey bees," said Holloway.

Beekeepers fear the multi-billion dollar industry is in jeopardy. USDA labs all over the county are not open, making months of science experiments obsolete.

"The experiments that are affected this year could affect what's happening next year," said Holloway.

Scientists at the USDA bee lab in Baton Rouge are experimenting with a bee virus called Varroa, a mite that attacks the body of the bee and weakens them. The virus spreads and can kill off entire colonies. Many of the experiments can no longer be used after scientists have been furloughed for two weeks.

Holloway explains the shutdown could ultimately rise grocery prices into next year.

This month, the USDA holds a beekeepers field day to teach new and veteran beekeepers about breeding techniques. The training session was canceled this year due to the shutdown and will not be rescheduled. Beekeepers fear this will hurt the growth of beekeepers as an occupation and honey bees themselves.



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