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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Tucson, Arizona » Carl Hayden Bee Research Center » Research » Research Project #440085

Research Project: Toward a more Comprehensive Assessment of Honey Bee Pollen Substitutes

Location: Carl Hayden Bee Research Center

Project Number: 2022-21000-022-020-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2021
End Date: Dec 31, 2021

The objective of this project is to field test (in Texas) different commercial pollen substitutes and compare how these substitutes influence hive health.

This field portion of this project will take place in Blue Ridge, Texas, at Desert Creek Honey using their commercial hives. We will test five diets. In addition to these five supplemental diets, another set of hives will receive natural corbicular pollen patty. There is no negative control, as hives deprived of any protein source often die. The diets will be prepared at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) lab in Tucson, Arizona, and shipped to Desert Creek Honey in ziploc bags. Each treatment group (A-F) will contain 66 replicate hives, yielding 396 colonies total. These hives will be distributed across 4 apiaries/yards, with 16 of each treatment in two yards and 17 of each treatment in two yards. The employees at Desert Creek Honey (Texas crew) will evaluate 396 hives of similar age and queen source for strength and health in August (“pre-feed”). Healthy, non-diseased hives will be randomly assigned to one of the six diets (A-F) described above. The Texas crew will receive the pre-labeled patties from Tucson and will apply one pound of diet every 10 days. Hives will receive diet from mid-August through mid-October (approximately 8 weeks), according to the typical fall feeding schedule at Desert Creek Honey. Through this feeding period, any patty remaining on the hive after 10 days will be weighed and recorded. The measurements will include an assessment of general hive health (scale of 1 to 10) and adult population (frames of bees or on a scale of 1-10). The identity of any failed hives will be noted, as will any hives showing disease patterns at the “post-feed”, “pre-almond”, and “post-almond” time points. The Texas crew will take these coarse measurements.