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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » Carl Hayden Bee Research Center » Research » Research Project #437922

Research Project: Developing Best Management Practices for Overwintering Honey Bee Colonies

Location: Carl Hayden Bee Research Center

Project Number: 2022-21000-020-11-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2020

Objective:
In September, randomly select 50 hives (40 focal hives with room to account for colony failure) that will remain outdoors until November for both the ND and TX locations. - In September, October, and November, collect ~30 bees from brood area or winter cluster in each colony. - November through April: Analyze samples from 40 colonies for dry weight, protein and lipid levels. In September, select hives in apiaries in North Dakota and southern Texas that have a > 0.5 chance of reaching populations of > 6 frames of bees in February (using our decision matrix) based on colony size and mite populations. - Measure colony size in February before almond pollination and in March after bloom and compare proportions of colonies that survive and colony sizes between those selected from northern and southern latitudes. Make similar comparisons between colonies from northern latitudes put into CS in October vs. November

Approach:
We hypothesize that bees from colonies in southern and northern latitudes will exhibit different physiologies in late summer and fall in preparation for overwintering, and could be in different physiological states when placed in cold storage (CS). To test this, we will sample bees from colonies in ND and TX in early September, mid-October and November just prior to the colonies being placed in CS facilities. Approximately 30 bees from the brood area or winter cluster will be collected during each sampling period, and shipped on ice packs to the CHBRC for physiological analysis of lipid and protein stores. Colony measurements and mite numbers estimated in September will be used to select hives to put into CS in October and November. Our previous study indicates that the chances of a colony reaching suitable size for almond pollination in February can be predicted by their size and mites per 100 bees in September. From our colony measurements, we will select those with the > 0.5 chance of having > 6 frames of bees in January. Colonies in ND and TX selected for CS will be measured for size and mites per 100 bees just before putting them in CS. Colonies will be removed from CS in late January and shipped to California for almond pollination. We will record colony survival and sizes for all treatment groups before and after almond pollination.