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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: IMPROVING HONEY BEE HEALTH, SURVIVORSHIP, AND POLLINATION AVAILABILITY

Location: Bee Research

2009 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this program is to improve overall colony survival and availability for pollination by bringing together recent ARS research findings on mite-resistant bee stocks, improved diets, mite and disease control alternatives and general colony management techniques into a comprehensive bee management system. The overarching goal of this Areawide program is to increase colony survival and availability for pollination and thus increase the profitability of beekeeping in the U.S.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The Program will focus on bringing together recent ARS research including:.
1)two ARS bee stock improvements, Russian bees and the Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) trait (Baton Rouge);.
2)improvements in nutrition, Mega Bee® (Tucson), HFCS research results (Weslaco);.
3)parasitic mite management techniques including new chemical controls 2-heptanone (Tucson), Hivastan® (Weslaco) and non-chemical controls plastic drone comb (Beltsville) and screen bottom boards (Beltsville); and.
4)management practices including the use of antibiotics, Tylosin® (Beltsville) and Nosema controls (Weslaco and Beltsville). A year-round management scheme will be tested in large migratory and smaller non-migratory beekeeping operations with an emphasis on the larger migratory beekeepers that supply bees to almonds (almost half of all managed bees in the U.S.) The country will be divided into geographic regions as follows; East, Mid-West & West. It is imperative to tests in many geographic regions as bees and bee pests and diseases grow at different rates in different parts of the country.


3.Progress Report
Surveys were conducted to determine the rate of honey bee colony losses in the U.S. in the fall and winter of 2007 and 2008. The overall losses, due to a variety of causes, were 36% and 29% for 2007 and 2008 respectively. Individual beekeepers reported that queen failure was their number one reason for colony losses while Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) symptoms were reported as the number three cause. Beekeepers reporting CCD-like symptoms reported higher losses than those that did not report CCD-like symptoms. The overall rate of colony losses has remained steady for three years at approximately 30% and is unsustainable. Scientists at the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville Maryland are currently testing means to limit the negative effects of queen loss, transportation and other stress factors to provide solutions for beekeepers who must move bees to meet pollination demands of U.S. agriculture. A survey of 12 commercial beekeeping operations was conducted in advance of almond pollination in California. Colony strength and disease levels were monitored leading into the almond pollination season. Increasing colony strength for pollination was correlated with decreasing levels of pests and diseases but no single factor was consistently shown to negatively impact colony strength. Scientists at the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland are currently testing means to limit the negative effects of pests and pathogens on colony survival with the goal of providing solutions for beekeepers trying to meet the ever expanding pollination demands of U.S. agriculture. An extension Web site was launched in July 2008 to provide a platform for information exchange on honey bee issues. The Web site provides an avenue to disperse up to date information and research findings to stakeholders. Publications will be made available on the site along with a more user friendly synopsis of each publication. An “ask the experts” section will allow stakeholders to pose specific questions to scientists who are supporting the site.


4.Accomplishments
1. Documentation of the annual U.S. honey bee colony losses during 2007 and 2008. Surveys were conducted to determine the rate of honey bee colony losses in the U.S. in the fall and winter of 2007 and 2008. The overall losses, due to a variety of causes, were 36% and 29% for 2007 and 2008 respectively. Individual beekeepers reported that queen failure was there number one reason for colony losses while Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) symptoms were reported as the number three cause. Beekeepers reporting CCD-like symptoms reported higher losses than those that did not report CCD-like symptoms. The overall rate of colony losses has remained steady for three years at approximately 30% and is unsustainable. Scientists at the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland are currently testing means to limit the negative effects of queen loss, transportation and other stress factors to provide solutions for beekeepers who must move bees to meet pollination demands of U.S. agriculture.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of Web Sites Managed1

Review Publications
Lopez, M., Pettis, J.S., Smith Jr., I.B., Pak-Sin, C. 2008. Multi-class determination and confirmation of antibiotic residues in honey using LC-MS/MS. Journal of Food Chemistry. 56(5):1553-1559.

Vanengelsdorp, D., Evans, J.D., Donovall, L., Mullin, C., Frazier, M., Frazier, J., Pettis, J.S., Hayes, J. 2009. Entombed pollen: A new condition in honey bee colonies associated with increased risk of colony mortality. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 101:147-149.

Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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