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Tornado Destroys Years of Beekeeping Research_October 2010
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Tornado Destroys Years of Beekeeping Research

ABF Member Dr. James Tew Loses Bee Lab

WOOSTER, September 25, 2010 - The tornado created a path of destruction throughout Wayne County.

Trees, roofs, houses, barns, cars...you name it, it was destroyed. Much may be restored with a new roof, planted trees and replaced windows, but what cannot be replaced are the years and years of research and experiments that were lost.

James Tew, a beekeeping specialist with Ohio State University Extension, is still trying to accept the loss of his bee barn stung by the tornado Sept. 16.

Tew's lab, located on Gossard Drive at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, didn't have much space, he said, so the majority of his data and research was housed in the barn. The depth of equipment supplies from the beekeeping program represented all research in the state and it is secondary to nationwide research.

"Everything is utterly destroyed...you can pick up odds and ends, but it's 99 percent gone," said Tew in disbelief.

"The damage has a crippling effect on the projects we were setting up," he added. The program received several grants to fund new experiments and everything was OK and ready to go, but "now it's gone."

He compared the bee barn to a library that's been blown away.

"I don't know what (this all) means, but I've never experienced anything like this before," Tew said.

He understands that much can be replaced, but the 60-70 years of beekeeping paraphernalia will never be fully recovered.

He is starting to realize instead of recovering everything, it will be more like a new start. A lot of the data and research was backed up and archived in the lab, however, every time it rains the data is getting more and more ruined he said.

The mess has yet to be cleaned up since the barn is still not a safe place to be. Once he figures out what needs to be done Tew plans to restructure his project and propose a new grant for assistance.

Tew had plans to develop a plan for bee enthusiasts who support native and honey bees. Equipment new and old is all gone, however the bee hives are all OK.

"Plenty of bees here, but there's nothing to manipulate them with," he said.

Tew said he's trying to be positive and said they plan to recover the bee barn, which will be more modern and new.

"I just didn't plan on spending all this time and effort," said Tew.

Tomatoes covered the sidewalks at the OARDC the evening of the tornado and Esther van der Knaap, associate professor of horticulture and crop science, explained the loss.

Although some of the larger plants and seeds were recovered from the tornado damage, a large amount of experiments going on in the now flattened greenhouse were destroyed. The damage has set back experiments and research in the greenhouses roughly three to five months.

Knaap said research and experiments that were ongoing for about 10 months are completely gone. She continued to work with tomatoes in hopes of finding out more about fruit development. Her research will hopefully start again Monday with the planting of new seeds.

Fortunately, there are back-up seeds in the lab, which was not destroyed. The plants that were recovered will be placed in a temporary greenhouse that is supposed to be set up soon.

"Right now we're just babying the plants hoping they'll come out of shock," Knaap said.

The damage affected a lot of people, she said, including students who have to graduate soon, which for them is a huge setback.

Steven Slack, director at the OARDC, said the amount of damage to the greenhouses and buildings will be expensive. The greenhouses have been secured and groups are working to recover what's left of the plants.

"There's no question we've had losses, research will be delayed and set back," Slack said.

The setbacks, however, are yet to be determined. The obvious problem is that losing a growing season, is like losing as much as a whole year, he added. Researchers are in the process of creating an inventory of all the saved material.

"The whole process will be ongoing," said Slack.

Source: The-Daily-Record.com

posted October 2010

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