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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » Honey Bee Research » Research » Research Project #434729

Research Project: The Role of Viral Infection and Nutritional Stress on the Migration of Varroa Mites on Foraging Bees

Location: Honey Bee Research

Project Number: 2022-21000-018-33-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2017
End Date: Sep 30, 2018

Objective:
1) Determine the relationship between mite populations and titers of viruses transmitted by Varroa throughout the year in colonies with and without nutritional stress. 2) Determine the effects of parasitism and virus titers on the frequency of foragers entering or leaving hives with Varroa on their bodies in colonies with and without nutritional stress. 3) Determine the molecular, neurological and behavioral effects on adult bees of parasitism and virus infection during development in colonies with and without nutritional stress.

Approach:
The Varroa mite is the leading cause of colony losses worldwide. Our previous studies have revealed that population growth of Varroa is accelerated by the migration of mites into colonies on foragers. Through a series of colony-level physiological, neurological and behavioral assays, we will determine if nutritional stress contributes to: the frequency that Varroa attach to foragers, rates of increase in titers of viruses that affect cognitive function, and the effects that parasitism and virus transmission have on brain chemistry and behavior of adult worker bees. Whether alleviating nutritional stress can reduce virus titers and reduce the rates that mites attach to foragers and are transported to other colonies also will be investigated.