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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystems Research » Research » Research Project #445645

Research Project: Pollinator Health and Interactions with Nutrition in Southern Crop Ecosystems

Location: Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystems Research

Project Number: 6066-21000-001-029-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 7, 2024
End Date: Feb 6, 2026

1. Develop collaborative research efforts to improve overall pollinator health, with an emphasis on bee nutrition, and increase pollination services for higher crop yields. 2. To determine how nutrition and other stressors in agricultural environments interact to affect pollinator health in collaboration with USDA scientists. In particular, the goals are to 1) examine the impacts of field-relevant sublethal doses of pesticides on honey bee physiology and colony health, 2) examine the impacts of macro and micronutrients on honey bee physiology, gut microbiome and colony health, 3) create datasets for palynology and phenology for the Southeast region and eventually expand this to the rest of the United States, and 4) examine the impacts of important diseases vis-à-vis pesticides and poor nutrition in honey bees.

The agency location is engaged in research addressing crop production (NP #305) component 2 (bees and pollination). The USDA Pollinator Health in Southern Crop Ecosystems Research Unit will continue collaborations with Mississippi State University's bee lab in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology, on different projects aimed at improving bee health and performance. The cooperator experimental protocols to assess bee health performance will be shared and consulted with USDA scientists in the unit. Methods to determine the impacts of poor nutrition and interactions with stressors found in the agricultural environment on bee health will be developed and the efforts will ensure that both parties are able to depend on each other and bolster lab performance when personnel are limiting. Collecting, processing and analyzing pollen samples from cooperator apiaries will be completed collaboratively. USDA researchers and Mississippi State University collaborators will work jointly to develop protocols to assess plant resource nutrition (pollen and nectar) and bee health at the individual and colony level. Together research personnel, support staff, and cooperators will develop and standardize protocols for assessing pollen and nectar nutritional profiles and bee physiology and markers linked to bee health. Outcomes will include peer-reviewed publications, which will be evaluated in cooperation between the cooperator and agency research unit scientists. Program enhancements will thus be directly transferred to end-users as the program advances through direct application and assessment.