Researcher aims to help beekeepers improve pollinator health

Arming Colorado’s beekeepers with new knowledge to improve pollinator health is the goal of Arathi Seshadri, a Colorado State University assistant professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.

Seshadri and her team of CSU researchers have received a $488,000 Pollinator Health Fund grant awarded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, to study the impact of phytochemicals and nutritional diversity on stress resilience and colony health of honey bees.

Seshadri will study the impact of nutrition and metabolic capacity on honeybee health.

“Our project will examine the different phytochemicals available in pollen and determine their role in honey bee stress resilience and Varroa mite tolerance,” said Seshadri. “The results generated will promote the development of nutritive plant species mixes for pollinator habitats and provide the knowledge required to develop dietary supplements to sustain healthy honey bee colonies.”

FFAR established its Pollinator Health Fund in response to the agricultural threat posed by declining pollinator health. Crops that rely on insect pollinators contribute an estimated $24 billion to the United States economy annually.

“Managed and native pollinators are vital to many crop production systems and the ecological resources that support them,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research congratulates Arathi Seshadri and Colorado State University and looks forward to results that will inform science-based approaches to improving pollinator health.”

The grant from FFAR is being matched by Colorado Professional Beekeeping Association, donations from beekeepers in the state of Colorado and Colorado State University.

Colorado State University is one of 16 grantee organizations who received a total of $7 million in FFAR funding toward research and technology development addressing the social and economic challenges faced by beekeepers, farmers, ranchers, private businesses and others to contribute to a healthy pollinator population that supports crop yields and agricultural ecosystems.

To learn more about the FFAR Pollinator Health Fund and these research projects, visit