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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PWA AREAWIDE PROGRAM FOR IMPROVING HONEY BEE HEALTH
2009 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. To increase colony strength for pollination of almonds and subsequent crops; 2. To demonstrate that resistant stocks reduce costs and increase survivorship; 3. To demonstrate improved parasitic mite control with proper timing of management applications; 4. To improve the content and delivery methods for carbohydrate and protein diets to improve nutrition; 5. To improve the integrated use of controls for pests and pathogens, including non-chemical beekeeping techniques; 6. To decrease the level of pesticide contamination within bee hives; 7. To determine the economics of areawide IPM techniques utilized in the Program; 8. To communicate findings of the program to stakeholders in a timely fashion; 9. To protect the purity of honey; and 10. To increase beekeeping profitability.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
An Areawide Oversight (CORE) Team comprised of representatives from the National Program Staff, the Center/Location management staff, ARS key scientists, Federal and State agencies, and when appropriate, commodity group, beekeepers and university representatives. The program is comprised of four key components within a framework of the temperal-spatial scale and three phased implementation. The four key components are operations, assessment, research and education.


3.Progress Report
The MegaBee diet developed in our Laboratory under a CRADA was fed in either liquid or patty form to colonies that were being prepared for almond pollination. Pollen was not available to the colonies, so the diet was the sole protein source. Colonies fed the diet in the patty form had greater brood production and population growth than those fed the diet as a liquid.

Cranberry pollination is highly stressful to colonies. The objective of the study was to determine if supplemental feeding with protein diet could mitigate colony losses and improve colony population growth. The diet was fed in either a concentrated patty form or in a dilute sugar mixture formed into a hard candy (i.e., candy board). Colonies that were fed protein supplement grew more than those that were not fed. Colonies fed the diet in either patty form or as a candy board grew equally as well. The study indicated that even a relatively small addition of protein to colonies during cranberry pollination improves their growth and survival.

A laboratory study was conducted comparing protein levels, hypopharyngeal gland development and immune response in adult worker bees fed the MegaBee protein supplement, pollen, or high fructose corn syrup. Worker bees fed pollen or protein supplement had similar hypopharyngeal development and protein levels. Bees that were fed only high fructose corn syrup had significantly lower protein concentrations and smaller hypopharyngeal glands compared with those fed a diet with protein especially as the bees aged. The greater nutritional value of the pollen and protein supplement might also have contributed to the workers’ immune response. Virus titers decreased in bees fed pollen or protein supplement but increased in those fed high fructose corn syrup. Monitoring of progress on this project is accomplished by conference calls, Laboratory meetings, and annual reports.


4.Accomplishments
1. Candy Board method used for Megabee Feeding. It is necessary to find improved methods for feeding bees when their natual food sources are unavailable. A new way to feed the MegaBee diet as a candy board was tested by ARS researchers in Tuscan, AZ for palatability and the effects on colony growth. The candy board formulation is less expensive to feed to bees compared with the patty formulation, and can stimulate brood production and colony growth to levels comparable to the Megabee patty. The research will impact beekeepers by reducing the cost of supplemental protein feeding while still maintainting colony growth and survival during times of low pollen availability or poor foraging weather.


Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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