What would the world look like without honeybees? In theory, if there were no honeybees, it could drastically change our lives. Bjorn Lagerman, though, never wants to know the actual answer to that question. but the honeybees current worst foe, Varroa Destructor, is killing off honeybee hives at intense rates. Bjorn’s in the middle of a machine learning project to save the bees from the vampirish Varroa.
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Bjorn Lagerman: “My name is Bjorn Lagerman. I live in the middle of Sweden. When I look back in my younger days, I remember, I sat in school, looked outside the window and decided I wanted to be outside. You know, I was raised in a stone desert in the middle of Stockholm in the old town; that’s a medieval town. And inside the blocks, there were sort of an oasis of water and fountains and green in this stone desert, but the streets were very old streets. And then the contrast was that in the summertime, I spent that in the countryside, and that was total freedom—you kow, lakes, rivers, forests, and my parents let us do what we wished during all the days, just come home for dinner. So when I was 22, I thought bees might be a reason to spend more time in nature. So I went to the nearest beekeeper, . . . and he sold me my first colony, and from there on, I was really hooked.”
Ginette: “I’m Ginette.”
Curtis: “And I’m Curtis.”
Ginette: “And you are listening to Data Crunch.”
Curtis: “A podcast about how data and prediction shape our world.”
Ginette: “A Vault Analytics production.”
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Ginette: “Imagine for a minute what the world would look like without bees. The image is potentially pretty bleak: we’d have much less guacamole, fruit smoothies, chocolate everything, various vegetables, pumpkin pie, peach cobbler, almond butter, cashews, watermelons, coconuts, lemon, limes, and many more food products. Let’s not forget the obvious—we wouldn’t have honey, which man can’t replicate well.
“But fruits, vegetables, and chocolate aren’t the only food stuffs that would be affected. Bees support other animal life. They pollinate alfalfa, which helps feed dairy cows and boost their milk production, and on a more limited basis, alfalfa helps feed beef cows, sheep, and goats. Statistics vary, but bee pollination affects somewhere between one to two thirds of food on American’s plates. Beyond food, bees help grow cotton, so without bees, we’d have to rely more on synthetics for our cloth.
“Honeybees in particular are incredibly hard workers. They pollinate 85 percent of all flowering plants.