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Museum hosts talk on honeybee crisis

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Honeybees are the primary insect pollinators of U.S. crops, which are valued at $17 billion annually, but their population is in significant decline. Michelle Flenniken, Montana State University microbiologist and co-director of MSU’s Pollinator Health Center, will discuss the honeybee crisis and ways to address the global challenge in the third presentation of the winter/spring Science Inquiry Series.

The talk will be presented at the Museum of the Rockies on Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Hager Auditorium.

The series, sponsored by the Gallatin Valley Friends of the Sciences, explores cutting edge science topics, their latest developments, and their relevance to society through speaker presentations followed by conversations between speaker and audience. The talks are free to the public.

In her presentation, entitled “What’s Killing the Bees? A look at the Research,” Flenniken will discuss honeybee losses of more than 30 percent per year over the past decade, factors affecting honeybee colony health, and the importance of both basic and applied science in addressing the problem.

Flenniken, an assistant professor in the Planet Sciences Department at MSU, holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from MSU, with postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research currently focuses on investigating honeybee host–pathogen interactions and studying honeybee threats through the Pollinator Health Center.

The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for audience members to engage in conversation with Flenniken in the museum lobby with light refreshments served.

The speaker presentation and audience participation segments together will last approximately an hour.

For more information about the Science Inquiry Series, contact James Manning at or (406) 585-2672.

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