2008 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The primary objective is to demonstrate that mite-resistant honey bee stocks (Russian bees and varroa sensitive hygiene bees) reduce beekeeping management costs and increase colony survivorship. This objective builds on earlier results of the value of resistant bees by now focusing on bees used in migratory pollination of almonds and other crops. Additional objectives will be to improve management of resistant stocks to enhance profitability in pollination beekeeping, and to investigate molecular aspects of mite resistance and stress associated with moving bees.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Resistant stocks will be established in commercial operations of cooperating beekeepers and monitored through annual cycles of movement to crops, and to sites of honey production and overwintering. Infestations of varroa and tracheal mites will be monitored in these colonies as they remain untreated with miticides. Colonies of unselected stock will be included and treated as is usual for the commercial management.
Management variations such as feeding regimes and hive conformation will be tested and implemented to increase bee populations in advance of crop pollination, especially early season almond pollination. These treatments will be modified as information develops in other segments of the Areawide Program. Once factors that regulate migratory stress, early season development or mite resistance are identified, molecular analyses using gene expression will be initiated to identify candidate genes that ultimately will support marker-assisted selection for desirable traits.
Honey Bee Stock Research--The project addresses the goal of testing the commercial performance of honey bee stock products developed at the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, LA.
Varroa-resistant honey bees developed by the Unit were tested in a commercial migratory beekeeping operation focused on crop pollination. Colonies of Russian stock and outcrossed VSH bees were compared to a control (non-selected Italian) stock; some of the control colonies were treated against varroa as usual by the beekeeping cooperator and some were not treated. Beginning in Feb 2008, all colonies were moved in a sequence that included almond pollination in California, spring management in Louisiana, apple pollination in New York, lowbush blueberry pollination in Maine, cranberry pollination in Massachusetts, and late summer honey production in New York. They will return to Louisiana in autumn. Through the pollination rentals, the four test groups generally performed similarly regarding mortality of colonies and queens, populations of bees and brood, and varroa infestation. The test will be replicated for another season. In addition, a second test is being initiated to measure response of colonies used in a migratory route that includes honey production in the midwest (Montana), then overwintering in California followed by almond pollination.
Colony Management Objectives--Project addresses the goal of identifying honey bee management procedures that will foster colony development of Russian and other colonies in late winter and early spring to produce large colonies for early pollination and early queen production.
MegaBee protein diet for honey bees developed under a CRADA between ARS Carl Hayden Honey Bee Laboratory in Tucson, AZ and S.A.F.E. Research and Development was compared with other commercially available pollen substitute diets, pollen cake and a pollen-free diet of high fructose corn syrup for consumption and colony growth (brood and adult populations). Colonies fed MegaBee patty produced significantly more brood than those fed pollen cake or any other diet. There was a significant relationship between the amount of diet consumed and the change in brood area and adult population size.
A preliminary experiment compared the early spring growth of Russian colonies fed MegaBee and one of two concentrations of sucrose syrup, fed only MegaBee and fed nothing. The combination of feeding MegaBee and syrup produced larger colonies. The methods of delivering the food to colonies require improvement.
A preliminary experiment compared the effects of hive size and late fall feeding on the size of colonies in early February Colonies were in double brood boxes having one of two box sizes (8 or 10 frames) and fed one of two feeding regimes (MegaBee and syrup or nothing) were tested. In February, 10 frame colonies not fed averaged 8 frames of bees, 8 frame colonies not fed averaged 9 frames of bees, 10 frame colonies that were fed averaged 10 frames of bees and 8 frame colonies that were fed averaged 11 frames of bees. A similar experiment with larger sample sizes will be done this year. NP 305.Comp.2.Prob.A-1;A-3.