2009 Annual Report
The Russian honey bees (RHB), developed by this unit, are resistant to varroa and tracheal mites, harbor fewer SHB, are excellent honey producers and overwinter well. This research is focused on further improving RHB to increase the stock’s usefulness, especially for early season pollination via stock selection and the development of management procedures. Increasing the commercial acceptability of this mite-resistant stock may mitigate colony losses since commercial beekeepers who use RHB stock for almond pollination report only modest winter loss of colonies. Relevance to Action Plan: Breeding marker assisted selection is a tool being developed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This work will be accelerated through additional funding for Russian bees. The problem to be addressed is relevant to the NP 305 Action Plan, Component 2 Bees and Pollination (Honey Bees) Problem Problem Statement 2A.3 Developing and Using New Research Tools: Genomics, Genetics, Physiology, Germplasm Preservation, and Cell Culture.
Management research on Russian honey bees has determined that Russian colonies will grow larger in smaller 8-frame hives, especially when fed a continual supply of protein and sugar syrup. Longevity of worker bees from individual colonies produced in the autumn is correlated to the survival of workers in winter clusters, providing a useful estimate of colony longevity. The bee diet developed at the ARS lab in Tucson produced larger colonies than other diets in feeding trials with colonies overwintered in California prior to almond pollination.
General varroa mite related research indicates that the feral population of honey bees in Louisiana has resurged owing to one or more of several explanations. In Italian colonies, higher levels of varroa mite infestation which are still below thresholds suggested for treatment cause the loss or the early supersedure of introduced queens.
Small Hive Beetle (SHB) research has found that Russian honey bees are more resistant to SHB than Italian colonies and that SHB populations develop well even in apiaries having heavy clay soils.
CCD research has shown that Russian and VSH varroa-mite-resistant colonies survived as well as treated Italian controls on a multi-location commercial pollination circuit. Overall, the mite resistant stocks were as effective as pollinators as the control stock.
A molecular genetic procedure to detect and quantify Nosema apis and N. ceranae was perfected to monitor this disease in selection programs.
5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Presentations about various aspects of the project were delivered by several staff to the two major national beekeeping organizations (American Honey Producers Association and Apiary Inspectors of America jointly and American Beekeeping Federation) annual meetings.
A laboratory field day was held on Saturday, October 18, 2008, for about 100 beekeepers from the region. Beekeeping and research activities were shown ranging from simple for beginners to complex for commercial operators and specialized hobbyists.
Villa, J.D., Rinderer, T.E. 2008. Inheritance of Resistance to Acarapis woodi (Acari: Tarsonemidae) in Crosses Between Selected Resistant Russian and Selected Susceptible U.S. Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 101(6):1756-1759(4). Degrandi-Hoffman, G., Wardell, G., Ahumada-Segura, F., Rinderer, T.E., Danka, R.G., Pettis, J. 2008. Comparisons of pollen substitute diets for honey bees: consumption rates by colonies and effects on brood and adult populations. Journal of Apicultural Research 47(4):265-270 De Guzman, L.I., Prudente, J.A., Rinderer, T.E., Frake, A.M., Tubbs, H. Population of small hive beetles (Aethina tumida Murray) in two apiaries having different soil textures in Mississippi. Science of Bee Culture 1(1):4-8; supplement to Bee Culture 137(2). 2009 Cargel, R.A., Rinderer, T.E. 2009. Effects of Varroa destructor Infestation on Honey Bee Queen Introduction. Science of Bee Culture 1(1):8-13; supplement to Bee Culture 137(2). 2009 Frake, A.M., De Guzman, L.I., Rinderer, T.E. 2009. Comparative resistance of Russian and Italian honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) against small hive beetles (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 120(1):13-19 Bourgeois, A.L., Rinderer, T.E. 2009. Genetic characterization of Russian honey bee stock selected for improved resistance to Varroa destructor. Journal of Economic Entomology 102(3):1233-1238. Villa, J.D., Rinderer, T.E., Bigalk, M. 2009. Overwintering of Russian Honey Bees in Northeastern Iowa. Science of Bee Culture 1(2):19-21; supplement to Bee Culture 137(2). Danka, R.G., Beaman, G.D. 2009. Preliminary observations of autumn feeding of USDA-ARS Russian honey bees to enhance flight performance during almond pollination. Science of Bee Culture 1(2):27-30; supplement to Bee Culture 137(2).