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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Research Project #437830

Research Project: Longitudinal Studies to Determine the Causes of Honey Bee Loss

Location: Invasive Species and Pollinator Health

2020 Annual Report

Pollinators, such as honey bees and other insects, are critical components of both natural ecosystems and agroecosystems, ensuring the production of many agronomic crops. Objective 1: Employing long-term, longitudinal studies of honey bee survivorship under current management conditions for honey bees used as pollinators and honey producers, elucidate honey bee forage needs and causes of mortality to serve as the basis for best management practices for pollination of specialty crops such as almond. [NP305, Component 2, Problem Statements 2A, 2B, 2C]

Honey bees are the main pollinators of crops in the United States and worldwide. Losses of honey bees due to a variety of factors are unsustainable at the current levels of over 30 percent. To mitigate these losses, it is necessary to determine their causal factors; however, long-term baseline data for colony survivorship is not available that can be used to parse the relative importance of suspected factors. It is therefore crucial to develop such a methodology, particularly as part of long-term longitudinal studies of spatial and temporal changes in bee populations exposed to a number of abiotic and biotic stresses and management practices. These longitudinal studies may incorporate research on pesticide, pathogen/pest, and nutrition/forage or other bee health effects, using hives that are stationary as well as those that follow pollination service migratory routes. The proposed longitudinal studies support ARS National Program on Production (NP305) Action Plan research objectives; Component 2: Bee Health; Problem Statements 2A: Bee Management—Improving Bee Nutrition and Performance, 2B: Bee Health—Mitigating the Impacts of Pathogens, Pests, and Pesticides, and 2C: Maximizing Bee Pollination and Quantifying Bee Forage Requirements of the Action Plan.

Progress Report
This report documents progress for bridging project 2030-21000-053-00D, which started February 2020 and continues research from project 2030-21000-001-00D, which is undergoing NP 305 Ad Hoc Office of Scientific Quality Review. The two scientists hired in 2019 concentrated much of 2020 on developing the program’s five-year project plan. In addition, recruitment efforts are currently underway for support scientists, post-doctoral scholars and technicians. The fourth mobile facility purchased in 2019 for additional office and research space for the growing program was delivered in June 2020 and is currently being furnished and prepared for occupancy. In April 2020, a research apiary was set up with 30 honey bee hives installed from packages. These hives are currently being used for new experiments addressing the effects of nutrition and agrochemical stresses on honey bee health.


Review Publications
Fine, J.D. 2020. Evaluation and comparison of the effects of three insect growth regulators on honey bee queen oviposition and egg eclosion. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. 205.