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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystems Research » Research » Research Project #438628

Research Project: Sustainable Conservation of Pollinators

Location: Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystems Research

Project Number: 6066-21000-001-006-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

Bees and other pollinators are critical to the productivity of various fruit and vegetable crops such as peaches. Honey bees are plagued by various pests including the small hive beetle. The overall objective is to develop sustainable methods to protect honey bees from small hive beetle attack. Specific objectives include: 1. Screen commercially available entomopathogenic nematode species for virulence to the hive beetle. 2. Test approaches to improve entomopathogenic nematode persistence in controlling hive beetle including formulations and mulching.

In a systems approach involving fundamental and applied components, Fort Valley State University will assist ARS in conducting research to develop or enhance microbial control technology for suppression of key insect pests for the purpose of protecting pollinators. The main pests of interest will be the small hive beetle. Microbial control will focus on the use of entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes as natural bio-pesticides. Specifically, the Fort Valley State University will assist ARS in the following approaches: 1) Screening a diverse array of nematode species for virulence against the hive beetle, 2) Optimization of protective gel formulations or other formulations and mulching for enhancing the persistence of entomopathogenic nematodes. The research will begin with laboratory-based studies in soil microcosms to compare relative virulence among nematodes. Formulation comparisons will also initially be made by conducting in microcosms to determine relative ability to withstand UV and desiccation. Subsequently, the most promising nematode strains and formulations will be tested under field conditions in replicated trials. The results of the various research components will be published in refereed journals, trade magazines, or extension articles, presented at professional and grower meetings. Information from the research will be integrated and formulated into improved pest management strategies that lead to conservation of pollinators.