DECATUR, Ill. — Dwindling bee populations should be a concern for anyone who eats, as one in every three bites of food consumed requires pollination from the honey-makers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report this year on honeybee health that found multiple factors play a role in honeybee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

The report specifically highlighted the need for additional research to determine the risks presented by pesticides, along with the need for improved collaboration and information sharing.

About the same time the USDA report was published this past May, Bayer CropScience was breaking ground on its North American Bee Care Center at Research Tri angle Park, N.C.

The Bee Care Center will house a full laboratory and teaching apiary; honey extraction and workshop space; interactive learning center; and meeting, training and presentation facilities for beekeepers, farmers and educators, as well as office space for graduate students.

Although the North American Bee Care Center will have its own honeybee colonies for teaching and demonstration purposes, the facility will be supported by other research apiaries, located nearby the Research Triangle Park area, to coordinate and extend research projects directed toward bee health.

“We take bee care quite seriously,” David Hollinrake, Bayer CropScience agricultural commercial operations marketing vice president, said at a media event during Farm Progress Show.

The 6,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building will complement an existing Bee Care Center that was established last year at the company’s global headquarters in Monheim, Germany.

“Ultimately what we’re trying to do is provide good scientific support to this epidemic and help understand why bee populations are declining and really put our money where our mouth is and enable a more scientific approach such that we can make sure the bee populations get back on the increase and continue to do our best to support U.S. agriculture,” Hollinrake said.

The Bee Care Center, a hub to promote worldwide bee health initiatives, will serve to support scientific research and help educate stakeholders and the general public about the importance of honeybees to agriculture by providing pollination of crops that help meet the growing global demand for a nutritious and abundant food supply.

In order to address food challenge issues, the center will bring together significant technological, scientific and academic resources to protect and improve honeybee health and sustainable agriculture.

“The program really formally came into existence in the spring of last year, but Bayer has actually been conducting various bee health-related activities for many, many years, and certainly we’ve been actively promoting stewardship of our products ever since they’ve been on the market,” said Robyn Kneen, North America manager of Bayer’s Bee Care Program.

“The program really consists of a number of different. Stewardship is one of them. Another is the Bee Care Center that we’re building and the research that we’re hoping to do there.

“Also a collaboration, outreach and engagement initiative, as well, where they’re bringing together the different stakeholders on bee health to engage in dialogue, also foster collaboration to help meet some of the challenges affecting bees today.

“As an agricultural company, Bayer recognizes the importance of bees to agriculture. I think the statistics say that one in every three bites of food that we eat is pollinated by honeybees.

“Bees are very important to agriculture, but obviously as an innovation crop protection company we realize that crop protection is very important to agriculture, as well. So we’re really focused on looking at how responsible use of crop protection and healthy honeybees can coexist together in the environment.”

Bayer CropScience also is expanding its Clayton, N.C., research apiary, known as “Beesboro,” to include a 1,200-square-foot building with an office, a wintering cold room, extraction area, beehive maintenance area and storage areas.