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7th grader successfully finds way to save honeybee populations

Posted at 5:34 PM, May 31, 2023

A 7th grader is the winner of a $10,000 dollar national science competition prize for discovering how to save bee populations.

Rory Hu says her love for honey inspired her to better understand the global decline of the honeybee population.

While there are many things that negatively affect bees, Hu says exposure to pesticides prevents them from feeding and sustaining the colony.

"The pesticides may prevent the bees from being able to do the daily functions of the hive," Hu said. "So, for example, they might get lost on their way to finding food, or they might not be able to remember where the sites that they found food were and not be able to communicate to the other bees where the food was."

At 11 years old, Hu found that tea polyphenols and caffeine could repair the honeybee's learning and memory. Polyphenols are compounds that stimulate the brain. Hu is now 13 years old.

"And this is extremely important because beekeepers can add tea polyphenols and caffeine to their sucrose, which could potentially save many honeybee lives," Hu said.

Sucrose is what honeybees eat.

Hu's science experiment earned her the $10,000 dollar STEM Talent Award from the Department of Defense in the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge.

Hu says she plans to continue spearheading conservation efforts and educating youth about bees through a nonprofit educational organization she co-owns called the Bee Initiative.