ORONO – Scientists with the University of Maine say they have developed a new tool to allow blueberry growers to get a handle on how many bees they can expect to see around their fields.

The tool is called “BeeMapper.” The university plans to unveil it on Wednesday at Blueberry Hill Farm in Jonesboro as part of the UMaine Cooperative Extension’s annual Wild Blueberry Summer Field Day.

UMaine doctoral candidate Brianne Du Clos led development of BeeMapper. She says it will give farmers a better understanding of predicted abundance of wild bees in the landscapes that surround their crop fields.

The university says farmers can better budget for honeybee hives if they know the numbers and types of wild bees in the areas around their fields.

A recent depression in the price of blueberries has made growing the crop a riskier way to earn a living.

A fact sheet published by the cooperative extension says that from 1990 to 2004, managed populations of honeybees have decreased by 25 percent.

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