Submitted to: Video
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: August 28, 2010
Publication Date: August 28, 2010
Citation: Afik, O., Hunter, W.B., Delaplane, K.S. 2010. Effects of varroa mites and bee diseases on pollination efficacy of honey bees. 2010 American Bee Research Conference, January 14-15, 2010, Orlando, Florida. ABRC 2010, p. 30792. http://www.extension.org/pages/30792/abrc2010-effects-of-varroa-mites-and-bee-diseases-on-pollination-efficacy-of-honey-bees
Varroa mites and viral diseases are known to affect the efficiency of crop pollination by honey. This study elucidates effects of varroa mites and bee diseases on the foraging behavior of adult bees and the consequences on successful fruit pollination. Four honey bee colonies of about 4,500 bees each were established. Two of these colonies were each infested with 1,000 varroa mites collected from other hives by sugar powdering. Two other colonies were used as non-infested control colonies. Each colony was caged in a separate enclosure containing one blueberry target plant and two potted pollen source plants. Pollination efficacy was tested by measuring percent of fruit-set and pollen deposition at flowers exposed to a single visit by an individual bee. Results indicated that bees from mite-infested colonies achieved a lower percent of fruit set and tended to deposit fewer pollen grains on the flower stigma. Bees from infested colonies performed shorter flower visits and a lower percentage of them were pollen foragers. These two behavioral differences may contribute to lower rate of fruit-set. More than 75% of the bees from both treatments were determined to be naturally infected with the viruses DWV and BQCV, but no bee was positive for Nosema spp., ABPV, IAPV or KBV. The results suggest that bees from colonies highly infested with mites are less efficient pollinators, possibly due to shorter visits to the flowers and lower tendency to collect pollen.