Submitted to: The Science of Bee Culture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A Interpretive Summary: Russian honey bee colonies can be managed in the southern United States through autumn and winter to produce colonies which average more than ten frames of bees in February. Colonies that are fed both sucrose syrup and pollen-enriched protein supplement continually from November to February are much more likely to grow to a large size. A mixture of pollen and pollen substitute fed as a patty is likely to produce larger colonies with more brood and also more N. ceranae. The benefits of larger colonies in February may justify the expense of treating the colonies for N. ceranae control. The treatment for N. ceranae is prudent for both colonies with low infections in the autumn and colonies with higher infection levels in early spring.
Technical Abstract: This study determined the effects of feeding a pollen substitute enriched with pollen and feeding protein in plastic frames placed directly in the brood nest on the growth of Russian honey bee colonies through the winter. Colonies were fed: 1) a mixture of 1/2 pollen and 1/2 commercial pollen substitute as a patty (P/PS/P), 2) a mixture 1/2 pollen and 1/2 commercial pollen substitute pressed into a plastic frame and inserted into the brood nest (P/PS/F), 3), commercial pollen substitute as a patty (PS/P), or 4) commercial pollen substitute fed in a plastic frame (PS/F). All colonies were fed sugar syrup as a slow drip from a pail. Feeding began November 30, 2010 and the experiment ended February 15, 2011. Feeding P/PS/P resulted in colonies that averaged 10.4 frames of bees, grew by 2.3 frames of bees, and had 4.0 frames of brood in mid-Febuary. The same diet fed in a frame (P/PS/F) inserted into the brood nest produced colonies that were numerically, but not statistically, smaller. Feeding pollen substitute not enriched with natural pollen (PS/P and PS/F) produced significantly smaller colonies. Overall, there was a significant positive relationship between the final size of colonies and the amount of protein diet they consumed. Colonies fed P/PS/P had comparatively elevated levels of N. ceranae (1.8 x 107 spores per bee). Although this number is below the operational economic threshold for treatment of some beekeepers, the costs of producing larger colonies of bees may include treating the colonies for the control of N. ceranae. Treatment for the control of N. ceranae should be in autumn, since colonies that began the experiment with low but comparatively elevated infections of N. ceranae (7.1 x 105spores per bee) died prior to February while surviving colonies started the experiment with lower (4.1 x 105 spores per bee) infection levels.