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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Develop improved understanding of factors weakening hive vigor and foraging efficiency, and provide economically sound integrated pest management (IPM) approaches to lessen the effects of these factors. Improve IPM tactics for control of key pests of honey bees, including Varroa mites, and the small hive beetle. Develop IPM strategies to lessen pesticide/antibiotic use in managed honey bee colonies, biorational compounds, and sustainable agricultural practices/IPM tactics for use in crop production that will lessen bee exposure to pesticides. 1A) Develop IPM tools and methodologies for control of key pests, and miticide resistance management programs to preserve useful chemical options. 1B) Determine the impact of the small hive beetle on colony development and longevity, and develop management systems for controlling the beetle in hives, including use of antifeedants for protection of protein supplements from small hive beetle damage. Develop effective control programs for management of small hive beetle in bee hives, with the goal to prevent contamination of bee products. 1C) Determine impacts of pesticides on foragers, both acute lethal effects and sub-lethal effects on bee behavior due to chronic exposure, and develop methods to mitigate bee losses due to pesticides, including management strategies for minimizing exposure of bees to pesticides in the field. 2) Use molecular approaches to investigate the physiological basis for bee immune responses to fungal pathogens such as chalkbrood, and develop strategies for controlling natural honey bee diseases. Identify molecular bases for honey bee physiological responses to chalkbrood. Identify and assess the role of genes that could potentially be involved in the anti-fungal activity.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Objective will be achieved through development of a combination of different IPM tactics (e.g., soft pesticides, acaricide rotation program, traps, lures) for control of pests, parasites, and diseases of the honey bee, and protection of hive products. It will also involve molecular studies to better understand the genetic basis of insect resistance to the fungal pathogen Ascosphaera apis, the causative agent of chalkbrood disease in honey bees. We will conduct a genome–wide screening of the honey bee immune cDNAs and will monitor the expression profile of larval genes by direct comparison of immune vs. pre-immune cDNAs. We will then utilize qRT-PCR approach to monitor expression profiles of the selected genes, identified through the genomic screens of bee's cDNAs, to better understand the correlation between changes in the level of gene transcripts and the progression of the disease.

3. Progress Report:
Per ARS Program Adjustment Decision Item approved 1/9/12 and implemented in early FY13, the Honey Bee Research Unit at Weslaco, TX, was redirected to bee research units at Beltsville, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; and Tucson, AZ. Activity in FY13 was in preparation of relocation of program.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Nansen, C., Stokes, B., James, J., Porter, P., Wheeler, T., Meikle, W.G. 2013. Biological control agent of larger black flour beetles (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae): A nuisance pest developing in cotton gin trash piles. Journal of Economic Entomology. 106 (2) 648:652. DOI:

Meikle, W.G., Bon, M., Cook, S.C., Gracia, C.G., Jaronski, S. 2013. Two strains of Pseudomonas fluorscens bacteria differentially affect survivorship of waxworm (Galleria mellonella) larvae exposed to an arthropod fungal pathogen, Beauveria bassiana. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 23(2): 220-233.

Meikle, W.G., Diaz, R. 2012. Factors affecting pupation success of the Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida. Journal of Insect Science. 12:118.

Meikle, W.G., Sammataro, D., Neumann, P., Pflugfelder, J. 2012. Challenges for developing biopesticides against Varroa destructor (Mesostigamata: Varroidae). Apidologie. 43: 501-514.

Aronstein, K.A., Saldivar, E., Vega, R., Westmiller, S., Douglas, A.E. 2012. How Varroa parasitism affects the immunological and nutritional status of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Insects. 3(3):601-615.

Aronstein, K.A., Saldivar, E., Webster, T. 2013. A serological method for detection of Nosema ceranae. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 114(3):621-625.

Last Modified: 04/26/2017
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