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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Honey Bee Research

2010 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
We conducted studies using colonies of a commercial migratory beekeeper that had significant colony losses (> 30%) from colony collapse disorder in 2009. We tested our new miticide developed under the CRADA with J.I. Haas in the beekeeper’s colonies. The product was first used in January and has kept Varroa populations well below levels that require treatment (i.e., <1 mite / 300 bees) through July. We are following a set of colonies representative of those used by the beekeeper for pollination. The colonies are used to pollinate several crops throughout the spring and summer. The colonies are exposed to fungicides in each crop that they pollinate. In addition, the bees are exposed to streptomycin when used to pollinate apples. The almond pollen collected by the colonies was analyzed and found to be contaminated with 4 different fungicides. Together the fungicide concentration in the pollen was about 20,000ppb. We are examining the effects of feeding on pollen contaminated with fungicides on the diversity of microbes in the honey stomach and bee bread throughout the year. Complementary studies are being conducted in our controlled flight area where bees are fed exclusively on pollen collected in the orchards where colonies were placed for pollination.Physiological measurements associated with food digestion and metabolism (i.e., hypopharyngeal gland development, protein content, nutrient value of brood food produced by workers, and incidence of disease) also are being made along with measurement of colony growth and survival. Monitoring of progress on this project is accomplished by conference calls, Laboratory meetings, and annual reports.

4. Accomplishments
1. Improving honey bee health. Colonies fed pollen contaminated with fungicides had a lower diversity of microbes in their stored pollen than those fed pollen without fungicides. Workers bees from colonies with fungicide contaminated pollen had a lower protein content compared with those fed uncontaminated pollen. Reduced protein content is a symptom of poor digestion and causes colonies to reduce brood their rearing. Adult workers with low protein titers have reduced immune response and longevity. ARS Scientists in Tucson, Arizona's, research findings suggest that fungicides might compromise the ability of workers to process pollen and this could affect colony growth and survival.

Last Modified: 05/23/2017
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