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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438129

Research Project: Managing Honey Bees Against Disease and Colony Stress

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

2020 Annual Report

The overarching goal of the project is to develop management strategies for bee diseases & colony health & to provide the beekeeping community with advice for best practices to build & maintain healthy bee populations for pollination. This goal will be achieved by pursuring the following specific objectives: OBJ 1: Develop diagnostic & data management tools for use in mitigating the effects of current & emerging honey bee diseases & pests & continue to operate the Agency’s Bee Disease Diagnostic Service. [NP305, Component 2, PS 2A & 2B] 1.A: Identify & characterize new & emerging pathogens that cause honey bee diseases & to develop efficient diagnostic markers to monitor disease onset & progression in honey colonies; 1.B: Develop diagnostic method for measuring stress in honey bees; 1.C: Improve diagnostic & informatic tools for bee health. OBJ 2: Develop novel & effective treatment solutions, including varroacides & natural products, that reduce the incidence & prevalence of bee diseases & disorders to help beekeepers maximize pollination services & honey production. [NP305, Component 2, PS 2A & 2B] 2.A: Develop tools & strategies for preventing & controlling honey bee pests that harm individual bees & damage hive products; 2.B: Develop RNAi based specific therapeutics for bee diseases; 2.C: Identify natural products that reduce bee diseases; 2.D: Develop novel methods to mitigate the detrimental effects associated with pesticide exposure. OBJ 3: Analyze the seasonal behavior & physiology of adult worker bees, & thus develop improved best management strategies for increasing the overwintering success of honey bee colonies in the field. [NP305, Component 2, PS 2A & 2B] 3.A: Refine our understanding of the seasonality of honey bee colonies & identify abiotic & biotic factors that disrupt the timing or occurrence of seasonal events; 3.B: Determine overwintering strategies of honey bee pests, including Varroa mites, wax moths, & small hive beetles, & develop methods & tools for their control; 3.C: Determine the effects to biological clock/seasonal physiology of honey bees from different overwintering strategies employed by beekeepers & develop successful overwintering strategies. OBJ 4: Determine the causes of queen failures & improve honey bee queen quality related to colony survivorship. [NP305, Component 2, PS 2A & 2B] 4.A: Improving queen genetic diversity & their resistance to diseases; 4.B: Compare available queen lines & stocks to determine their disease Resistance; 4.C: Define the epigenetic factors of queen fitness & develop strategies to improve queen quality. OBJ 5: Analyze the interactions between honey bee nutrition, their microbiomes, chemical stress, disease, & hive treatments, to improve bee health & performance. [NP305, Component 2, PS 2A & 2B] 5.A: Determine the effect of nutritional supplementation on honey bee behavioral development & disease immunity; 5.B: Determine the relationship between gut microbiota & nutrition on honey bee behavior & immunity to diseases & abiotic stressors; 5.C: Improve bee defenses in the face of abiotic & biotic stress.

Bee Research Laboratory scientists combine laboratory and field approaches and integrate physiology, molecular biology, toxicology, ecology, and multi-omics technologies (genome, metagenome, transcriptome, epigenome, metabolome, and microbiome) into an interdisciplinary research program to generate new knowledge, technologies, and tools for 1) diagnosing, treating, and mitigating bee diseases and pests, 2) creating platforms that provide data sources and analytic applications to advance bee research and to broaden the range of our custom services, 3) improving colonies' overwintering success, 4) developing strategies for improving queen quality, and 5) discovering nutrition-based approaches for disease prevention and health promotion and protecting bees from pesticides and other toxins present in the environment. BRL scientists work with industry leaders and stakeholders to help license and develop products that will be useful for beekeepers and customers.

Progress Report
This is a newly approved 305 project. Please see 8042-21000-290-00D for FY2020 annual report details.