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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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

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2008 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The Areawide Program will bring together recent improvements in mite-resistant bee stocks, nutrition, and pest and disease management techniques into a comprehensive management strategy to improve honey bee health in the U.S. The objective of this 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 ARS research from Beltsville, MD; Tucson, AZ; Baton Rouge, LA and Weslaco, TX. Specific objecives include: 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);.
4)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 test in many geographic regions as bees, bee pests and diseases grow at different rates in different parts of the country.


3.Progress Report
Two large-scale feeding trials were conducted that examined the best time to begin the fall feeding of honey bee colonies in preparation for almond pollination. Near Escondido and Modesto, California, we randomly assigned colonies (n=30) to monthly start times. Beginning with September 2007, (for Escondido and Modesto, we started in early October) colonies were fed BeePro+4% pollen patties weekly or as needed. Additional groups of 30 colonies received feedings starting in October, November, and December 2007, and January 2008. Once they were started, colonies received continuous feeding until almond bloom (mid-February 2008). In both trials, colonies fed earlier had larger adult bee populations and a higher percentage of colonies that made an 8-frame minimum size standard for almond pollination. In Escondido, only 50% of the January-fed group met the size requirement, while about 86-89% of the September and October groups did so. Only 19% of unfed control colonies met this size criterion. This project will be extended to 9/30/2009. (NP-305, Component 2)


4.Accomplishments
1. Feeding timing study: Two large-scale feeding trials were conducted that examined the best time to begin the fall feeding of honey bee colonies in preparation for almond pollination. Colonies located near Escondido and Modesto, CA, were fed BeePro+4% pollen patties at different starting times. In both cases, colonies fed earlier (starting in October) had larger adult bee populations and a higher percentage of colonies that made an 8-frame minimum size standard for almond pollination. Colonies with larger adult bee populations (colony strength) send out larger numbers of nectar and pollen foragers. That is, they will pollinate far more flowers than smaller colonies. That makes them more valuable to almond growers and other farmers who rent colonies to pollinate their crops. Colonies below certain sizes are not acceptable to growers and they get rejected. (NP 305, Component 2)


6.Technology Transfer

None

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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