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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Baton Rouge, Louisiana » Honey Bee Lab » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366107

Research Project: Genetics and Breeding in Support of Honey Bee Health

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Title: Factors influencing colony survival in migratory beekeeping based on honey bee resistance traits

item Simone-Finstrom, Michael
item O'SHEA-WHELLER, THOMAS - Louisiana State University Agcenter
item PENN, HANNAH - Louisiana State University Agcenter
item Rinkevich, Frank
item Danka, Robert
item HEALY, KRISTEN - Louisiana State University Agcenter

Submitted to: University of California Publications in Entomology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/18/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Commercial beekeeping in the United States and Canada accounts for the majority of colonies in circulation, with migratory pollination comprising <75% of the industry. Notably, this system experiences high overwinter losses on a yearly basis. Crucially, without substantial improvements in bee health, large-scale migratory pollination is likely to become both biologically unsustainable, and commercially infeasible in its current form. Consequently, our research aims to identify the key predictors of colony loss, and their relative weightings and importance through a targeted multi-year longitudinal study of honeybee health in migratory beekeeping. As such, we analyse pathogens, agrochemicals, nutrition, and parasites, at a large spatiotemporal scale, in a real commercial pollination operation. Moreover, the study incorporates a test of Pol-Line bees, a stock bred for resistance to Varroa destructor, which our current data indicate to account for up to 70% of observed mortality across regions. Pol-Line bees are unique in their combination of mite resistant traits paired with favourable beekeeping characteristics, and thus represent a viable integrated solution to ongoing and intense parasite pressure. Further work showing differential responses to viral infection and how this may impact field results will be discussed. In sum, our research aims to parsimoniously quantify the relative impacts of key stressors, allowing for more effective management and predictive modelling. Furthermore, we evaluate a mite resistant commercial bee stock, providing a potentially integrated solution to the ongoing V. destructor pandemic.