Steve Troxler is a big guy, but sometimes he sweats the small stuff.

Honey bees, for example. Troxler is a farmer. He’s also commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

So he knows we need bees to pollinate plants. He knows that one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat was made possible by bee pollination. Grain. Fruit. Tree nuts. Bees carry that magic fairy dust around on all of ’em.

That’s why Troxler proclaimed this “an important day for agriculture, for North Carolina and the world.”

Invited Crowd Tours New Facility

He was among the dozens of Bayer CropScience employees, public officials and media gathered Tuesday at the official opening of the company’s North American Bee Care Center on its Research Triangle Park campus.

Bayer built the 6,000-square-foot building to promote honey bee health and well-being through public education exhibits for visitors, a conference room and a research lab. The vision is to have students mingle with company scientists and other bee experts to study ways to reverse the decline in the important pollinators’ populations.

The RTP facility mirrors a center built in 2012 at the joint headquarters campus of Bayer CropScience and Bayer Animal Health in Monheim, Germany.

Several others addressed the audience besides Troxler, including Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience CEO and president.

President Cites Continued Investment Plans

Blome announced a planned $12 million investment this year alone in bee health personnel, infrastructure and research to support its continued commitment to the protection of honey bees and other pollinators.

“We have assembled an impressive team of bee health experts who will help guide our ongoing research and stewardship commitment in support of pollinator protection and sustainable agriculture,” Blome said. They include new scientists, postdoctoral researchers and field research associates, as well as visiting graduate students specializing in bee health.

Although the North American Bee Care Center will have its own honey bee colonies for teaching and demonstration purposes, the facility will be supported by other area facilities, including North Carolina State University and Bayer’s newly opened Clayton research apiary, known as “Beesboro.”

Clayton Facility’s Smaller, Different

The 1,200-square-foot Clayton facility includes an office, a wintering cold room, extraction area, bee hive maintenance area and storage areas.

Troxler told the audience he expects data to be compiled in May will show a record $80 billion economic impact for North Carolina’s agricultural industry. And he said ag is also growing more diverse, as dependence on tobacco continues to give way to new specialty crops that are highly dependent on bees for pollination.

Editor’s note: Jim Shamp is director of public relations for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center

(C) NC Biotechnology Center