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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Throughout the world the "Beltsville Bee Lab," as it is often referred to, is recognized for its research on bee diseases and pests and for providing a bee disease diagnostic service for 100+ years.

  • The Beltsville Bee Laboratory is the only federal honey bee research facility located in a climate representative of the majority of beekeeping areas in the U.S.

  • The Beltsville Bee Lab spearheaded the USDA effort that gained FDA approval of the antibiotic tylosin to control American foulbrood disease of honey bees. The bacterium that causes this disease was showing resistance to the only previously approved antibiotic, and was devastating bee colonies across the nation.

  • The Beltsville Bee Lab operates a bee disease diagnostic service that receives over 2,000 samples annually from across the United States. This service provides beekeepers and bee inspectors with authoritative identification of bee diseases and pests.

  • The Beltsville Bee Lab developed new controls for parasitic mites, including an ARS-patented gel formulation of formic acid. The commercial product is environmentally-friendly and offers a 90-100% level of control.

  • The Beltsville Bee Lab developed a "screened bottom board," a hive modification that reduces the number of parasitic mites (Varroa) without the use of chemicals. The screened bottom board and various modifications based on the Beltsville design, are being offered by many bee supply companies.

  • The Beltsville Bee Lab developed non-chemical control strategies for the small hive beetle. These controls dramatically decrease or eliminate beetle damage in honey houses. The strategy that relies on reducing the humidity to below 50% (an environment that kills beetle eggs) was a result of basic research on beetle biology.

  • The Beltsville Bee Lab is the only laboratory involved in the preservation of honey bee germplasm and is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the avian and porcine germplasm research also being conducted at Beltsville.

Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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