Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: THE COSTS OF FOLLOWING THE BLOOM-NUTRIENT PROCESSING, MICROBIAL DYNAMICS, AND COLONY HEALTH IN A MIGRATORY BEEKEEPING OPERATION
2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Evaluate the performance of selected colonies during pollination of different crops in a migratory beekeeping operation. 2. Examine colony nutrient processing of forage collected from crops of varying nutritive value. 3. Compare levels of known beneficial and pathogenic colony microbes during pollination of different crops. 4. Determine exposure of commercial colonies to chemical treatments encountered during pollination. 5. Characterize the microbial communities associated with colonies during pollination of different crops in a migratory beekeeping operation.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Examine nutrient processing, pesticide exposure, microbial communities, and colony performance in selected colonies over an entire migratory pollination season.


3.Progress Report

Migratory honey bee colonies are exposed to various stresses during pollination and movement between different crops. Changes in food nutrients, exposure to chemical treatments and microbes may affect honey bee nutrition and colony health. Crop conditions also may alter honey bee health by impacting beneficial colony microbes involved in digestion and suppression of honey bee pathogens. From February to October 2010, we followed 24 selected migratory bee colonies as they progressed through six different crop environments during a single pollination season. Colony food stores (stored pollen, nectar) and honey bee developmental stages (larvae, emerging adult worker bees, adult nurse bees, adult forager bees) critical to honey bee nutrition were sampled from each colony during 13 time intervals. The total amount of colony space dedicated to rearing young bees and storing food changed considerably as colonies moved through successive crop environments as estimated from photographic analysis of colony bee frames. We are currently examining how these changes in colony performance relate to changes in colony nutrition, pesticide exposure, molecular and biochemical indictors of physiological stress in individual bees, and colony microbial communities. Monitoring of progress on this project is accomplished by conference calls, laboratory meetings, annual reports, and presentations to the National Honey Board.


Last Modified: 12/18/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page