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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Evaluate Honey Bee Exposure to Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Associated Colony Health in Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Areas

Location: Southern Horticultural Research

Project Number: 6062-21430-002-07-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 9, 2013
End Date: Sep 9, 2018

The objective is to survey neonicotinoid concentrations and assess corresponding colony health in apiaries across in intensive row-crops production areas, commercial vegetable production areas, urban areas, and areas where neonicotinoid exposure is unlikely. The goal is to correlate hive health with exposure levels of neonicotinoid insecticides, incidence of Varroa mites, and availability of food sources.

A survey of apiaries will be done across a broad geography in Tennessee that will represent areas of intensive row-crop production, areas of commercial cucurbit vegetable production where honey bees are used for pollination purposes (squash, pumpkin, etc.), urban areas, and areas where honey bee exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides is unlikely. A minimum of four apiaries for each of the above scenarios will be evaluated. Satellite imagery and other land-use databases will be used to assess potential food sources around each apiary. • We intend to do a one-time of sample of 16-32 commercial and hobbyist bee apiaries for concentration levels of neonicotinoid insecticides of foraging bees from each apiary. Several hives (minimum of four) will be sampled and composited from each apiary. More samples will be made if alternative funding can be secured. • Pollen samples will also be collected (trapped) from returning foragers and from bee bread stored in the hive from each apiary during July-September to evaluate primary food sources in storage and determine of neonicotinoid insecticide levels. • For each apiary, colony health/strength will be assessed at a minimum of two times that will include the spring and fall. These assessments will include: o Bee coverage of frames (adult population). o Brood counts (capped and uncapped). o Food stores (amounts of pollen, nectar and honey). o Varroa mite infestation levels and incidence of bee disease pathogens. o Electronic, continuous hive monitoring equipment may be used to evaluate colony strength (if available) to validate these data with traditional colony health metrics. Bee samples will be stored frozen for subsequent analyses of neonicotinoid insecticide concentrations. All samples will be analyzed at the USDA, AMS, National Science Laboratory, Gastonia, NC, at a level of detection = 1 PPB.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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