Pollination Security for Fruit and Vegetable Crops in the Northeast
Researchers work to make crop pollination sustainable in the Northeast
Editor:Philip Moore, The University of Tennessee
Last Edited: November 25, 2013
The pollinator security project was initiated in 2011 to address a gap in knowledge with respect to pollinator communities in northeastern cropland.
Reports of declining native pollinators, decreased availability of honey bee rental colonies, and general public misunderstanding led to the creation of this working group to produce a sustainable pollination strategy for stakeholders.
The goal is to contribute to long-term profitability of fruit and vegetable production and the outcome is this webpage along with other farm training and publications to increase knowledge and adoption of practices that protect pollinator communities.
One component of this project is video segments which highlight aspects of fruit or vegetable production in the Northeast. The first in this series focuses on commercial blueberry production in Maine and comes to you in seven parts.
Part One: Commercial Blueberry Pollination in Maine's Blueberry Barrens
Video Segments (titles without links are yet to be released):
Part 1: Commercial Blueberry Pollination in Maine's Blueberry Barrens
Part 2: Lowbush Blueberry in Maine, Native Plants and Native Bees in a Modern System
Part 3: Pollinator Plantings (The Bee Module) for Maine Lowbush Blueberry
Part 4: Landscape Ecology in Maine's Blueberry Growing Region
Part 5: Grower Interviews and the Economics of Lowbush Blueberry in Maine
Part 6: Research Topics in Lowbush Blueberry Pollination
Part 7: How to Estimate Native Bee Abundance in the Field
Specific objectives of this project are to :
1. Determine the contributions of pollinator communities and identify which site characteristics have the greatest influence on pollinator effectiveness in apple, lowbush blueberry, cranberry, and cucurbit.
2. Develop hypotheis-driven model based on factors shown to affect pollination deficits.
3. Quantify pesticide residues in pollen and relate to crop and management strategies, and estimated risk to the bee community.
4. Assess shared parasite load between introduced and native pollinator communities.
5. Analyze the economics of pollination services and determine the value of pollination service.
6. Heighten our understanding of the grower community to understand why farmers accept innovation and to increase adoption of pollinator conservation measures.
7. Facilitate knowledge transfer allowing growers to both assess and improve pollination security.
This content is produced by a group of researchers from across the northeast:
Frank Drummond, The University of Maine
Kimberly Stoner, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
John Burand, The University of Massachusetts
Brian Eitzer, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Tom Stevens, The University of Massachusetts
John Skinner, The University of Tennessee
Dave Yarborough, The University of Maine
Tracy Zarrillo, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Kalyn Bickerman, The University of Maine
Shannon Chapin, The University of Maine
Eric Venturini, The University of Maine
Michael Wilson, The University of Tennessee
2014 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series Begins Feb. 7
The eXtension All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar series is set to begin Feb. 7. Dr. Kathy Flanders, an entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says the series is a continuation of the Don’t Bug Me Webinar series with an emphasis on good and bad insects that affect people every day.
“This webinar series will feature insects that affect homeowners and gardeners,” says Flanders. “These insects fall into two categories and we hope to provide information that is beneficial when treating your gardens or crops and pest-proofing your home, yard, family and pets.”
Webinars will be held the first Friday of each month at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The first webinar in the 2014 series will highlight pollinators, which are good bugs. “If Flowers are Restaurants to Bees, then What Are Bees to Flowers?” will be Friday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m.Honeybee on flower. Photo courtesy of Jerry A. Payne, bugwood.org.
Dani Carroll, a region Extension home grounds agent, will be moderating the Feb. 7 webinar. She says it is imperative to know the importance of the role pollinators play in the world around us.
“Bees and other pollinators are essential in production of more than two-thirds of the world’s food crop species,” Carroll says. “The necessity extends beyond things we grow in our back yard, like squash and apples. Alfalfa is instrumental in the meat and dairy industries and its growth depends on pollination.”
Upcoming webinar topics include pollinators, termites, ticks, spiders and fire ants.
Flanders says The All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar series is designed to provide useful tips for those interested in solid, research-based information.
More information can be found at All Bugs Good and Bad 2014 Webinar Series including how to connect to the webinars. On Feb. 7, participants can use this link to connect to the webinar. Webinars will be archived and can be found on the All Bugs Good and Bad 2014 Webinar Series page.
All Bugs Good and Bad webinars are an extension of the seven webinars in The Don’t Bug Me Webinar Series, which spanned most of 2013, and included five webinars discussing fire ants, tramp ants, bed bugs and insects that invade homes. Links to view these archived webinars can be found here.
The webinars are sponsored by eXtension and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. They are coordinated by the Imported Fire Ant eXtension Community of Practice, Urban IPM, Bee Health, Invasive Species, Gardens, Lawns and Landscapes, & Disasters.
"BioEnergy - Biomass to Biofuels course", 2014 Spring Semester, University of Vermont
~~Want to make a difference in realizing Renewable Alternatives to Fossil Fuels - learn from experts, understand real-life situations firsthand from on-site operations, and tons of hands-on experience working with experts (variable credits) -
"BioEnergy - Biomass to Biofuels course", 2014 Spring Semester, University of Vermont
~~January 16, 2014 to April 30, 2014 (Thursdays & Fridays 9:00AM - 12:00PM;
no classes during the regular breaks/holidays, plus 2 weeks self-study for the course project; final exam in May) ;
Location: UVM campus & throughout Vermont for field trips/hands on experience
COURSE WEBSITE: http://go.uvm.edu/fo6ay
4 Credit through ENSC, NR & TRC (3 & 2 credits only through ENSC) - for registration see links below.
CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT: awarded for successfully completing the 4 credit.
DETAILS: Experts in following areas will provide hands-on instruction in wide range of topics including: LIQUID BIOFUELS (seed-based biodiesel; bioethanol; conversion of waste oil to biodiesel; advanced biofuels including algae-biofuel & microbial biofuel); SOLID BIOFUELS (wood & grass energy, pelletization), BIOGAS & BIO-ELECTRICITY (the farm-based energy); BIOHEAT, BIOMASS CONVERSION TECHNOLOGIES FOR BIOFUEL, BIOFUELS/ENERGY RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMICS, & SOCIAL ISSUES; OTHER wide-range of Biofuels related science & technology topics, background & literature. This course is designed to provide hands on experience in all possible Bio-Renewable Energy areas to prepare the participants of diverse backgrounds for jobs in BioEnergy / Biofuels industry, or higher education in the field, or related entrepreneurial endeavors in bioenergy / biofuels areas.
CONTACTS: For syllabus related questions contact the Lead Instructor Anju Dahiya at email@example.com (For registering email (http://learn.uvm.edu/contact/ ) or call 800-639-3210 or 802-656-2085 to make a phone or in-person appointment with a Continuing Education Adviser to discuss your options)
INSTRUCTORS: UVM FACULTY MEMBERS and EXPERTS from VT-based Biomass/biofuels businesses (see the list at course website)
All welcome: Degree and non-degree seeking students, budding entrepreneurs, teachers (interested in developing curriculum, or projects at school or college levels), farmers and others.
MEANS OF INSTRUCTION
A.ON CAMPUS CLASSES: BY UVM FACULTY MEMBERS and EXPERTS from VT-based
B.HANDS ON FIELD WORK & SERVICE LEARNING PROJECTS involving tours to Farms/Biofuel facilities & related projects.
C.TALKS by guest-speakers/experts from businesses;
D.BIOFUELS EQUIPMENT DEMONSTRATIONS by professionals;
E.ONLINE CLASSES: supplementary classes/information including video
clips and discussions.
Three course listings to register from:
Credits (note that 3 & 2 credits only through ENSC 285):
4 credits (Certificate of Achievement) : on-campus lecture w/access to Blackboard materials, hands on in-lab & field trip sessions, service learning project in partnership with a community leader, Certificate of Achievement awarded.
3 credits: on-campus lecture with access to blackboard materials hands on in-lab & field trip sessions (without the service learning project).
2 credits: on-campus lectures with access to blackboard materials, (without in-lab & field trips & service learning project).
All Bugs Good and Bad 2014 Webinar Series
Please join us for this webinar series for information you can use about good and bad insects. Topics will include how you can help good insects like bee pollinators and how to control insects we think of as bad, like fire ants, termites, and new invasive insects. Spiders and ticks aren't actually insects, but we will talk about them too. Webinars will be on the first Friday of each month at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Click on the title for information on how to connect to the webinar.
2014 Webinar Series: All Bugs Good and Bad
FEBRUARY 7, 2014
If Flowers are Restaurants to Bees, then What Are Bees to Flowers?
Presented by Dr. John Skinner
Moderated by Danielle Carroll
MARCH 7, 2014
APRIL 4, 2014
MAY 2, 2014
JUNE 6, 2014
AUGUST 1, 2014
SEPTEMBER 5, 2014
OCTOBER 3, 2014
Alien Invasions, Zombies Under Foot, and Billions of Decapitated Fire Ants
Presented by Dr. Sanford Porter
Moderated by Nelson Wynn
NOVEMBER 7, 2014
Where Have All the Honey Bees Gone? Hope for the Future
Presented by Dr. John Skinner
Moderated by Sallie Lee
The 2014 Webinars are brought to you by the following eXtension Communities of Practice: Imported Fire Ants, Urban IPM, Bee Health, Invasive Species, Gardens, Lawns and Landscapes, and Disasters and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Looking for 2013 Webinars? Click here!
Varroa Sensitive Hygiene and Mite Reproduction
The USDA-ARS Baton Rouge Bee Lab has bred bees that hygienically remove mite-infested pupae from capped worker brood. This ability is called varroa sensitive hygiene, and bees expressing high levels of this behavior are called VSH bees. To select for the VSH trait in your bees, also see Selecting for Varroa Sensitive Hygiene
VSH is an important mechanism of resistance to varroa mites. The best resistance is found in pure VSH bees. However, hybrid VSH bees (e.g. VSH queens open mated to non-resistant drones) also have significant resistance to varroa mites.
VSH is very similar or the same as hygienic behavior that honey bees use to combat American foulbrood, chalkbrood, and the eggs and larvae of wax moths and small hive beetles. All colonies probably have individuals that perform VSH, and we do not yet understand how our selective breeding has resulted in colonies with greatly improved performance. Hygiene is performed by nest cleaning bees aged 15-18 days old. Removal of a mite-infested pupae begins when an uncapper smells the infested brood and chews a pinhole through the cell cap. Subsequently, removers enlarge the hole and either eat the infested pupa or pull it from the brood cell (Fig. 1).
VSH bees do not respond to all mite-infested pupae with equal intensity (Fig. 2). They are more likely to remove mite-infested pupae that are not pigmented or only lightly pigmented (stages 2–4) than prepupae (stage 1) or more darkly pigmented pupae (stages 5-8). Additionally, they are much less hygienic towards mite-infested drone brood than worker brood. Reasons for these trends are unclear.
Removal of mite-infested brood is probably triggered by unusual odors that penetrate the cell cap to the outside where hygienic bees patrol the comb surface. We have observed that VSH bees respond vigorously to highly infested brood (e.g. 15–25 mites per 100 capped cells) that is transferred into the colony (Fig. 3). They uncap and remove many mite-infested pupae quickly. They respond with much less intensity to brood with low infestation rates (1–5 mites per 100 capped cells), probably because the chemical signals that trigger removal are less concentrated and harder to detect.
Figure 3. Comparison of mite-infested brood that had been exposed to VSH bees or controls for 24 hours. Uncapped pupae appear as white dots in this photo.
More characteristics of VSH bees
Figure 4. Pie charts showing the proportion of mites that are reproductive in VSH and control colonies. Figure 5. Cell caps from normal (upper right) and recapped (lower two) brood cells. The three cell caps have been removed and flipped ov
Another characteristic of VSH bees is a reduced fertility of mites, when compared to non-VSH bees. In a colony, mite fertility is reduced several weeks after introduction of VSH queens into non-selected colonies. This led to the original name of the trait, Suppressed Mite Reproduction (SMR). This name describes the trait (or traits) selected in the experimental population of bees. The name of the trait was later replaced by Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH). This is due to the finding that the primary mechanism of the trait is the removal of infested pupae from capped brood cells.
The VSH bees shown in Fig. 4 have about 30% reproductive mites (a normal family capable of producing a mature daughter). About 55% are infertile or non-laying mites (blue slice), and there are mites that die without producing offspring (red slice). There are also mites that produce a family, but their daughters do not mature before the bee emerges (yellow slice). These are fertile because they laid some eggs, but they are also considered non-reproductive because they will not produce even 1 mature daughter.
Sometimes, uncapped cells are recapped. VSH bees will exhibit this recapping more then non-hygienic bees , as seen in the following data (Villa et al 2010)
- Recapped cells (%)
- VSH: 38 ± 0.3 a
- Hybrid: 19 ± 0.8 ab
- Control: 17 ± 0.3 b
It is possible that uncapping and recapping interferes with mite reproduction. Caps from normal and recapped brood cells can look alike when viewed from outside (as when you look at a brood comb, see Fig. 5). However, when the caps are gently removed and flipped over the silk lining of the cap becomes visible. In normally capped cells (upper right Fig. 5) the silk lines the entire inner surface of the cap. The recapped cells on the bottom row (Fig. 5) show granular wax without a silk lining where holes that were used by hygienic bees to inspect cells are repaired by nest bees. The holes can vary in diameter from pinholes to the size of the entire cap.
Jeff Harris presents: Varroa sensitive hygiene and mite reproduction. Jeff Harris and Bob Danka: USDA-ARS, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. American Bee Research Conference. Orlando, Fl. January 15th, 2010.
- also see Selecting for Varroa Sensitive Hygiene
- Page authors: Jeffrey Harris, Robert Danka and José Villa, USDA-ARS
Chronology of References with Open Access Links
- 2010. Hygienic responses to Varroa destructor by commercial and feral honey bees from the Big Island of Hawaii before exposure to mites. Danka, R. G., Harris, Jeffrey W., and Villa, J. D. 2010. Science of bee culture. Mar., v. 2, no. 1, p. 11-14. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/43776
- 2010. Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) with the Trait of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene Remove Brood with All Reproductive Stages of Varroa Mites (Mesostigmata: Varroidae). Harris, J. W., Danka, R. G., and Villa, Jose D. 2010. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. Mar., v. 103, issue 2, p. 146-152. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/39368
- 2010. Breeding for resistance to Varroa destructor in North America. Rinderer, T. E., Harris, J. W., Hunt, G. J., and de Guzman, L. I. 2010. Apidologie. May-June, v. 41, no. 3, p. 409-424. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/43844
- 2009. Responses to Varroa by honey bees with different levels of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene. Harbo, J. R. and Harris, J. W. 2009. Journal of apicultural research. v. 48, no. 3, p. 156-161. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/32516
- 2009. Simplified methods of evaluating colonies for levels of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH). Villa, J. D., Danka, R. G., and Harris, J. W. 2009. Journal of apicultural research. v. 48, no. 3, p. 162-167. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/32517
- 2008. Effect of Brood Type on Varroa-Sensitive Hygiene by Worker Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Harris, J. W. 2008. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. Nov., v. 101, issue 6, p. 1137-1144. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/21494
- 2008. Comparative Performance of Two Mite-Resistant Stocks of Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Alabama Beekeeping Operations. Ward, K., Danka, R., and Ward, R. 2008. Journal of economic entomology. June, v. 101, no. 3, p. 654-659. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/17348
- 2007. Bees with Varroa Sensitive Hygiene preferentially remove mite infested pupae aged less than or equal to five days post capping. Harris, J.W. 2007. Journal of apicultural research. v. 46, no. 3, p. 134-139. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/8497
- 2006. Ibrahim, A. and Spivak, M. The relationship between hygienic behavior and suppression of mite reproduction as honey bee mechanisms of resistance to Varroa destructor. 2006. Apidologie. 37: 31-40. http://www.extension.umn.edu/honeybees/components/pubs.htm Direct link: http://www.extension.umn.edu/honeybees/components/pdfs/Apidologie_37_2006.pdf
- 2005. Suppressed mite reproduction explained by the behaviour of adult bees. Harbo, J.R. and Harris, J.W. 2005. Journal of apicultural research. v. 44, no. 1, p. 21-23. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/38194
- 2001. Resistance to Varroa destructor (Mesostigmata: Varroidae) when mite-resistant queen honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) were free-mated with unselected drones. Harbo, J.R. and Harris, J.W. 2001. Journal of economic entomology. Dec. v. 94 (6), p. 1319-1323. http://hdl.handle.net/10113/22462
- 2000. Changes in reproduction of Varroa destructor after honey bee queens were exchanged between resistant and susceptible colonies. Harris, J. W. and Harbo, J. R. 2000. Apidologie 31. 689-699. apidologie.org
- 1999. Selecting honey bees for resistance to Varroa jacobsoni. Harbo, J. R. and Harris, J. W. 1999. Apidologie 30. 183-196.apidologie.org
- Recapped cells (%)
Kalyn Bickerman - The University of Maine
Kalyn Bickerman is a Ph.D. student at the University of Maine under the supervision of Dr. Frank Drummond and works on investigating the health of native bumblebees in Maine's lowbush blueberry fields. Before arriving at UMaine, Kalyn completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Conservation Biology at Columbia University in the City of New York.
Although her Master's work focused on the health of loggerhead sea turtles in the Pacific, Kalyn has been able to transfer her knowledge of, and her interest in, pathology and disease ecology to doing her Ph.D. work with Maine's bumblebees. Beyond looking for common parasites and pathogens in the bees, Kalyn also has done some work looking at pesticides and how they affect colony development, along with how well individual bees are able to detoxify themselves when faced with pesticide exposure.
Lowbush blueberries are one of Maine's most important exports and bumblebees are instrumental in their pollination for successful fruit production. Therefore, it is vital to protect our native pollinators, particularly in a time when our managed pollinator, the honeybee, is facing such grave declines. Although she traveled and has lived in different cities since graduating college, Kalyn (a Maine native) always knew she wanted to return to Maine to begin her professional career. She is very happy that her work not only helps protect the bees, but also the agricultural economy of her home State.
Contact Informationmobile: 207-441-1355
Shannon Chapin - The University of Maine
Shannon Chapin is currently a graduate research assistant working towards a Master of Science in Ecology and Environmental Science at the University of Maine, under Drs. Cynthia Loftin and Frank Drummond. Shannon’s research focuses on using spatial modeling tools to assess the effects of landscape characteristics on Maine’s native bees.
She received a BS in Geography, with minors in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and Climatology from The Pennsylvania State University, and a graduate certificate in Geospatial Sciences from Humboldt State University. Prior to graduate school, Shannon worked for 5 years as a field ecologist and GIS specialist for various federal agencies located across the country.
Shannon’s career goals are to continue to combine her interests, education, and work experiences in the fields of Geospatial Sciences and Ecology. Post graduate school, Shannon hopes to contribute to the federal, state or local government, or a non-profit agency with a focus on conservation planning, wildlife monitoring, analyzing agricultural resource issues, and/or automation and optimization of ecological data collection and processing.
Tracy Zarrillo - Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
I have worked at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station since 1992, and over the course of my career have provided assistance on a variety of projects, including insect pest management on organic farms and apple orchards in Connecticut. Recent projects focus on pumpkin/squash pollination and wild bee diversity on farms, and also surveying the state for exotic and invasive insect pests.
My interest in pollination and documenting wild bee diversity began about five years ago while working on a project that looked at beneficial insects visiting ornamental flowers. I was amazed to see so many different types of bees! At that point, I began to work with various bee experts around the country to learn bee taxonomy. I have taken a Northeastern Bee Identification Workshop given by Dr. John Ascher; a Dialictus (sub-genera in the genus Lasioglossum aka sweat-bee) workshop given by Dr. Jason Gibbs; Native Bee Identification, Ecology, Research and Monitoring Course given by Sam Droege and Dr. Jason Gibbs; and the Pollinator Short Course given by Xerces Society. I have also spent many hours being personally mentored by Sam Droege of the USGS down at his lab in Maryland. This has enabled me to be able to do species-level identifications for our northeastern fauna, which is critical to ecological studies.
The bee species that visit pumpkin and squash in Connecticut are very limited in scope, and so my taxonomic role in this project is very easy. However, I also assist with pollen and nectar collection from pumpkin and squash flowers on farms, as well as stigma (female flower parts) processing back at our lab. The stigmas are processed with a base to remove the pollen that bees have deposited in a given morning. This will help us know how many pollen grains the bees are transferring from the male flowers to the female flowers.
Presently, I am attending Southern Connecticut State University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Biology. My thesis project is a two year faunal survey of the bee communities found at a coastal preserve in Guilford, Connecticut.
David Yarborough - The University of Maine
David E. Yarborough is the wild blueberry specialist with Cooperative Extension and professor of horticulture in the School of Food and Agriculture at the University of Maine, where he has worked for the past 34 years. He attended the University of Maine where he received a B.S. degree in wildlife management in 1975 and an M.S. degree in resource utilization 1978. He received his Ph.D. degree in Plant and Soil Science in 1991 from the University of Massachusetts.
His research subject dealt with weed-crop competition and shifts in species distributions in Maine's wild blueberry fields with the use of herbicides. He now does research on developing chemical and cultural strategies for controlling weeds, and works with wild blueberry growers in Maine and Canada to educate them on best management practices that will enable them to increase their efficiency of production and their profitability, so that this industry may continue to remain competitive in the world marketplace. He has published well over 200 research and Extension publications dealing with wild blueberries and with weeds. He was recognized by the IR-4 program when he received the Meritorious Service Award in 2006 and 30 year service award from the University of Maine in 2009.
Eric Venturini - The University of Maine
Eric Venturini has a diverse background in resource management, research, and agriculture. His experience includes over two years of work on organic farms and over 200 days at-sea helping to manage long-line and trawl fisheries in Pacific. He is now studying at the University of Maine and expects to receive his Masters of Science in May, 2014.
Eric’s role on the Pollination Security Team is to study the influence that bee pasture has on native bee communities in Maine’s lowbush blueberry fields. He is very involved in outreach, regularly speaking to any and all interested groups. If you are interested in bee pasture wildflower mixes, native bee habitat enhancement, farming and gardening using bee friendly practices, or sustainable crop pollination Eric would be excited to hear from you.
If you can’t find Eric studying bees in a blueberry field, he is probably gardening, fishing, hunting, hiking, walking his redbone coonhound, or chopping wood in the backyard.
John Burand - The University of Massachusetts
John Burand is an Insect Pathologist in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst working on microbes, particularly viruses that cause diseases in bees. Before joining the faculty at U-Mass Dr. Burand was a research and postdoctoral associate at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University and in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. degree at Washington State University working on insect viruses in the Department of Bacteriology and Public Health and received his M.S. degree from Miami University in the Department of Microbiology.
John’s research interests are in the area of molecular basis for pathogenesis of viruses in insects as well as factors influencing the host range of viruses. He is currently examining the epizootiology of viruses of honey bees including their transmission and replication in other bee species including bumble bees.
Michael Wilson supports USDA programs in bee health including the NIFA project “The Bee Informed Partnership” (beeinformed.org) and the USDA-SCRI, “Pollination Security in the Northeast”. These projects involve website design, database and applications programming, video production, and developing educational content in the subject of bees. Michael has been a beekeeper since 1999 and keeps a few apiaries in East Tennessee on his own. He applies his computing and beekeeping experience to bee research, education, and Extension through John Skinner’s Extension program “Bees and Beekeeping” at The University of Tennessee
Michael Wilson, M.S.
The University of Tennessee
Please use Ask an Expert web-form at http://bees.tennessee.edu/
Bee Health Contents
- Colony Collapse Disorder
- Pesticides and Bees
- Nosema Disease
- Varroa Mites
- Small Hive Beetles
- European Foulbrood
- Videos: Bee Diseases and Pests
- UGA and MAAREC
- Pollinator Security Project
- BeeMail Shelter
- Native Bee Benefits: .pdf download
- Some Native Bees
- Collecting Bees
- Identifying Bees
Community of Practice
Tom Stevens - The University of Massachusetts
Tom Stevens is a natural resource economist. He has a PhD degree from Cornell University and is currently a Professor of Resource Economics at Umass-Amherst. Tom’s work on this project focuses on using contingent valuation methods to estimate the extra amount consumers would be willing to pay, if any, for blueberries, cranberries and other crops that are pollinated by native as opposed to commercial pollination.
Brian Eitzer - Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Dr. Eitzer received a B.S. with a double major in chemistry and environmental science in 1982 from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. He went on to receive a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Indiana University in 1989. Since that time he has been employed by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He is an expert in the analysis of organic contaminants in a wide variety of matrixes. These contaminants can include industrial products such as polychlorinated biphenyls or agricultural chemicals such as pesticides. The matrixes can include soil, water, air, food products such as fruit and vegetables, and matrices related to honey bees. He has expertise in the analytical methods used to do these analyses including extraction and cleanup of samples. In addition, his expertise extends to the instrumental methods such as liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry and gas chromatography mass spectrometry used in the analysis of these samples.
Pesticides are thought to be a co-factor in many of the problems facing pollinators. In addition to acute effects such as a bee kill caused by a misapplication of pesticides they can also potentially cause longer term non-lethal effects. Therefore, in our studies of pollination security it is important to determine the pesticide exposure of the pollinators. This is done by taking samples of various matrixes such as the nectar and pollen from a plant, or bees themselves and analyzing those matrixes for pesticides. Pesticides are extracted from these matrixes by acetonitrile, the extracts are then treated to remove some interfering compounds and then the extracts are analyzed using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Using these techniques we can detect and quantify a large number of different pesticides that may potentially be present in the sample. Dr. Eitzer’s role within the pollination security project is to conduct these analyses on the samples submitted by the other collaborators and report back to them the pesticide content of the samples they submitted.
Kimberly Stoner- Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Dr. Kimberly Stoner leads the study of pumpkin and winter squash pollination for the Pollination Security Project, counting bees on flowers on 20 fields in Connecticut, and relating those bee counts to pollen deposition on the stigmas of the female flowers. In addition, she collects samples of pollen and nectar for measurement of pesticide residues and samples of bees for molecular analysis to track movement of RNA viruses and various microbes in different species of bees.
In her other bee projects, she is completing a project comparing numbers and diversity of bees on different plants grown on diversified vegetable farms – herbs, cut flowers, ornamental plants, cover crops, wildflowers, and weeds. She is also doing long-term monitoring of bee diversity in several sites around Connecticut.
Her background is in vegetable entomology, particularly breeding plants for resistance to insect pests, biological control of insect pests, and other alternatives to insecticides for managing vegetable insects. She has worked with many organic farmers and organic landscapers, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association for 20 years, and she was the lead author on the first organic standards for landscaping in the world. She is an Associate Scientist in the Entomology Department at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where she has been since 1987.
Voice: (203) 974-8480
Frank Drummond - The University of Maine
Professor of Insect Ecology and Blueberry Insect Pest and Pollination Extension Specialist
I am the director of Maine’s efforts at providing sustainable pollination for lowbush blueberry in the Northeast through the Pollination Security Project. Day to day tasks are to advise graduate students that are conducting vital research on this project (9 students) and to be the spokes person for the project, especially involving contact with blueberry growers, honey bee keepers, and Maine state and non-profit agencies. In addition, my personal research focuses on the pollination ecology of lowbush blueberry. This area of research involves bee foraging and floral handling behaviors as well as plant growth and development responses to the environment. My skills as a statistical modeler also allow me to provide the project with predictive modeling capabilities.
Tel.: 207 581-2989
Philip Moore -The University of Tennessee
Philip Moore is the current content manager for the Bee Health community of practice on eXtension.org. Prior to beginning this position he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville and studied Web Page Design and Development at Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee. Currently he is a Master of Science student in Entomology at The University of Tennessee under the supervision of Dr. John Skinner, State Apiculturist and Professor.
Philip's interest with bees sprouted during his undergraduate program. He was recruited to join the Bees and Beekeeping extension program after a fruitful internship with the U.T. Institute of Agriculture, Organic and Sustainable Crop Farm. He began by learning honey bee colony management, IPM, and honey extraction. Then he initiated the U.T. Apiaries involvement with the burgeoning U.T. Farmers Market. As the market reached more consumers and added diverse vendors, Philip's market repertoire expanded; U.T. Apiaries begun selling Ten Year Aged Honey, Cut Comb Honey, Beeswax Lip Balm, Hand and Body Salve, Gift Baskets and more!
Philip's academic interests are with the pollination services of bees rather than their honey reward. His Masters thesis is titled Pollination Ecology of Pityopsis ruthii (Ruth's Golden Aster), which is funded by a fellowship from The Garden Club of America. He is looking forward to a career in honey bee and native bee research and extension and plans to continue towards a doctorate program.
Managing Small Hive Beetles
What you can do to prevent or limit their damage
Author: Jon Zawislak, Department of Entolomogy and Plant Pathology, Mississippi State University
The small hive beetle Aethina tumida (SHB) is an invasive pest of bee hives, originally from sub-Saharan Africa. These beetles inhabit almost all honey bee colonies in their native range, but they do little damage there and are rarely considered a serious hive pest.
It is unknown how this pest found its way into the U.S., but was first discovered to be damaging honey bee colonies in Florida in the late 1990s. It has since spread to more than 30 states, being particularly prevalent in the southeast. The beetles have likely been transported with package bees and by migratory beekeepers, but the adult beetles are strong fliers and are capable of traveling several miles at a time on their own.
In the United States these beetles are usually considered to be a secondary or opportunistic pest, only causing excessive damage after bee colonies have already become stressed or weakened by other factors. Infestations of beetles can put significant stress on bee colonies, which can be compounded by the stress of varroa mites and other conditions. If large populations of beetles are allowed to build up, even strong colonies can be overwhelmed in a short time.
Honey bee colonies appear able to contend with fairly large populations of adult beetles with little effect. However, high beetle populations are able to lay enormous numbers of eggs. These eggs develop quickly and result in rapid destruction of unprotected combs in a short time. There is no established threshold number for small hive beetles, as their ability to devastate a bee colony is related to many factors of colony strength and overall health. By maintaining strong bee colonies, and keeping adult beetle populations low, beekeepers can suppress the beetles’ reproductive potential.
Fig. 1. SHB adults are often observed in the hive with their head and antennae tucked down beneath the thorax. They are oblong in shape, around 6 mm long, and with variable coloration that ranges from tan to reddish-brown, dark brown or black.
Fig. 2. SHB larvae will grow to about 1/2" in length. They possess 3 pairs of well-developed legs, and have rows of short spines projecting from their bodies.
Adult SHB are 5-7 mm (1/4”) in length, oblong or oval in shape, tan to reddish brown, dark brown or black in color, and covered in fine hairs, but their size and appearance can be highly variable within a population. The adults are usually observed in the hive with their heads tucked down beneath the thorax, so that antennae and legs are often not apparent (Fig. 1). The larvae are elongated, cream-colored to slightly golden grubs, growing to 10-12 mm (1/2”). They may be mistaken for young larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella). The two types of larvae can be differentiated by their appearance. Beetle larvae (Fig. 2) have three pairs of well-developed legs near the anterior end, while wax moth larvae have three pairs of legs near the anterior and four pairs of less-developed prolegs toward the posterior. SHB larvae also have numerous dorsal spines, which wax moth larvae are lacking. Both pests can be found simultaneously in the same hive, however.
Honey bees are not able to efficiently remove adult beetles from the hive, and their hard shells resist stinging. Rather, the bees are observed to pursue adult beetles across the combs. Beetles will seek cracks and crevices in which to escape from the bees, who in turn will imprison the beetles in these cracks, preventing them from escaping. The beetles have developed the ability to stimulate the mouth parts of worker bees with their antennae, similar to drones begging for food, and are able to trick their guards into feeding them. This behavior allows the beetles to survive in confinement for extended periods. Opening hives for inspections may free the beetles from their confinement.
Sometimes the SHB population becomes too large for the worker bees to protect against, and the beetle population can increase rapidly. This may happen due to weakening colony health or declining bee population, or due to beekeeper action. When swarming occurs, the number of bees available to patrol the interior of the hive is reduced, which may allow the beetle population to surge. When colonies are split, or nucs are created, the number of bees in the new colonies may be insufficient to protect against the beetle population. Mating nucs used in queen rearing may be particularly susceptible to SHB. Over-supering hives provides the beetles with excessive space in which to move and hide and provides additional oviposition sites, while increasing the area that the worker bees must patrol.
The use of grease patties for tracheal mite control, or the addition of protein supplement patties for spring build-up, may increase SHB infestations. Both adult and larval beetles are attracted to these patties as a food source. If patties are found to be infested with larvae, they should be removed immediately, and disposed of by wrapping them in several layers of plastic bags to prevent SHB from escaping.
The adult female beetles will lay egg masses in cracks and crevices around the hive, or directly on pollen and brood combs. Beetles may puncture the capping or wall of a brood cell and deposit eggs inside of it. A single female beetle can produce over 1000 eggs in her lifetime. Beetle eggs are similar in shape to those of honey bees, but approximately 2/3 the size. Eggs generally hatch in 2-4 days, and the larvae immediately begin to feed on pollen, honey, and bee brood. In 7-10 days, beetles complete their larval development and will exit the hive to pupate in the soil. The majority of larvae remain within about 180 cm (6’) of the hive they exit, but can crawl much longer distances if needed. Larvae will burrow up to 10 cm (4”) into the soil, where they remain 3-6 weeks to complete pupation. Within 1-2 days of emerging from the soil, adult beetles will seek out a host bee colony, which they locate by odors (Fig. 3).
The adults are strong fliers, and can disperse to other beehives easily. Beetles are also thought to travel with honey bee swarms. Individual beetles can live up to 6 months or more, and several overlapping generations of beetles can mature within in a colony in a single season. Beetle reproduction ceases during the winter, when adult beetles are able to overwinter within the bee cluster.
Fig. 3. Life Cycle of the Small Hive Beetle.
Economic damage from SHB occurs when the bee population is insufficient to protect the honey combs from the scavenging beetle larvae. When adult beetles first invade a colony, they may go unnoticed until their populations increase through reproduction or immigration. Both adult and larval beetles will prey upon honey bee eggs and brood.
When large numbers of beetle eggs hatch in weak colonies, the combs of honey can become “wormy” and take on a glistening, slimy appearance (Fig. 4). Unlike wax moths, these beetle larvae do not necessarily damage the combs themselves, and do not produce extensive webbing. Ruined honey can be washed from the combs, which may then be frozen for 24 hours to kill any beetles or eggs on them, and placed back onto a strong hive to be cleaned and repaired by the bees.
When large numbers of adult beetles defecate in the honey, they introduce yeasts, causing the honey to ferment and run out of the cells. In this case, the queen bee may cease laying, and the entire colony may abscond. Weak colonies are particularly vulnerable to attack, but even strong colonies can be overwhelmed by large populations of beetles. Nucleus colonies used for queen production or colony splits can be especially vulnerable to beetle attacks.
Beetles can create sudden problems if bee escapes are used prior to harvesting, and supers of honey are left virtually undefended by bees. If honey is removed from the hive, but not immediately extracted, beetles can invade the honey house and quickly ruin a large portion of a honey harvest. Wet cappings from recently extracted honey are also extremely attractive and vulnerable to beetle infestation. Honey contaminated by small hive beetles will be rejected by bees, is entirely unfit for human consumption, and should never be bottled or mixed with other honey for packing.
Fig. 4. Honeycombs infested with SHB larvae take on a glistening or "slimey" appearance. Honey contaminated by beetle larvae is unfit for consumption by either bees or humans.
Beetles are easily detected by visual inspection of colonies. When a hive is opened, adult beetles may be observed running across the underside of the outer cover, on either side of the inner cover, and on the top bars of frames. Also, beetles may be seen running across the surfaces of combs (Fig. 5). To detect beetles in the top hive body, open the hive and place the outer cover on the ground in a sunny spot, and place the top hive body into the cover (Fig. 6). Conduct normal colony inspection activities on the rest of the hive. If present in the top super, adult beetles will retreat from the sunlight, and after about 10 minutes you may lift the hive body and look for beetles in the cover. Beetles in the lower hive body will similarly retreat to the bottom board as the colony is disturbed.
Strips of corrugated cardboard, with the paper removed from one side, or pieces of corrugated plastic (obtained as scraps from a sign shop) can be placed on the bottom board at the rear of the hive. Adult beetles, fleeing from bees, may seek shelter in the small spaces of the corrugations, and can be easily seen. Bees may chew up and remove cardboard strips left in a hive for extended periods.
Varroa sticky boards are usually ineffective in detecting small hive beetles. Adult beetles prefer dark conditions, and will migrate toward the tops of hives that have screen bottoms, and may be more easily detected by placing corrugated strips on the top bars of the upper super or above the inner cover
Small hive beetle larvae are often found clustered together in corners of a hive or on frames. This behavior also differentiates them from wax moth larvae, which are found scattered throughout a hive. Older beetle larvae orient toward light sources, and in the honey house, a single fluorescent light near the floor may attract beetle larvae, which exit the hives when seeking a place to pupate. These larvae can be swept up and drowned in soapy water.
Surfaces of combs that appear slimy, or fermented honey bubbling from the combs, are positive signs of beetle activity. Fermented honey has an odor described as decaying oranges.
If you suspect the presence of hive beetles, you may contact your state apiary inspector to arrange a visit, or you may bring a specimen in alcohol to your local Cooperative Extension office for positive identification.
Fig. 5. Adult beetles may be seen running across the combs, often pursued by honey bees.
Fig. 6. To detect SHB in the top super of a hive, place it on the hive lid in a sunny spot for abotu 10 minutes. The bright light will drive the beetles down to the bottom. If present, adult beetles should be visible on the lid when the super is lifted.
Prevention is the most effective tactic of small hive beetle control. Chemical controls are available, but are of limited use. Good beekeeping management practices in the bee yard and in the honey house are sufficient to contain hive beetle problems in most cases. A combination of cultural and mechanical controls will usually help to maintain beetle infestations within a manageable range.
Keep bee colonies healthy and strong. Reduce stresses from diseases, mite parasitism, and other factors. Maintain and propagate bee stocks with hygienic traits that are better able to detect and remove pests and diseased brood. Eliminate, requeen, or strengthen weak colonies.
Use caution when combining colonies or exchanging combs and hive bodies, because beetles and their eggs can be introduced into other colonies, which can be overwhelmed. Making splits from heavily infested hives can cause a serious outbreak if insufficient numbers of bees remain to protect the hive. Avoid over-supering hives, which increases the area that the bees must patrol.
Maintain a clean apiary and honey house to reduce attraction to beetles. Avoid tossing burr comb onto the ground around hives, which may attract pests. Adult beetles tend to prefer shady locations. If possible, place hives where they receive direct sunlight at least part of the day. Keep hives and frames in good condition. Warped, cracked and rotten hive bodies provide beetles with many places to hide, and make them more difficult to detect by bees or beekeepers. When debris is left to accumulate on a bottom board, beetle larvae can complete pupation inside the hive. Regular cleaning or use of screen bottom boards can prevent this build-up of debris.
Honey that is removed from a colony should be extracted within 1-2 days. Wax cappings are an attractive food for beetles, and should be processed quickly or stored in sealed containers. Honey supers can be removed from weak colonies to lessen the territory of combs that the bees must patrol. If not ready for extraction, these supers can be placed on strong colonies, in a manner similar to protecting them from wax moth infestations. However, if small hive beetles or their eggs are present on the combs, the addition of these beetles can be sufficient to cause the strong colony to collapse. Honey supers can be frozen at -12°C (10°F) for 24 hours to kill all stages of beetles before transferring supers to a strong colony. Store empty supers under conditions of good air circulation and less than 50% humidity.
Pollen traps should not be left on heavily infested hives for extended periods. The unprotected pollen can serve as a substantial protein source for beetles, as well as a protected breeding site.
Utilize mechanical traps in the hive to reduce the number of adult beetles that can produce eggs, while also reducing the need for pesticides.
Mechanical Traps for eliminating Small Hive Beetles
Numerous mechanical trap designs are available for use in the hive to control the adult SHB population. Most traps kill beetles by drowning them in vegetable oil or mineral oil. The traps have small openings that allow beetles to enter, but restrict the larger honey bees. Some traps utilize a fermenting bait to attract the beetles into the trap, but beetles will enter non-baited traps to escape from the bees. By maintaining a manageable adult beetle population in the hive, beekeepers can often prevent a major infestation of beetle larvae, which cause the the most destruction.
The West Trap is placed on the bottom board, and requires a wooden shim to maintain proper space beneath the frames. It contains a shallow pool of oil, and is covered by a slatted screen that excludes bees. Adult beetles enter the trap from above, to escape from bees, and fall into the oil and drown. Hives must be kept extremely level for these traps to be effective. These traps preclude the use of screen bottom boards for ventilation.
The Hood Trap attaches to a standard bee hive frame. It has a compartment filled with apple cider vinegar as an attractant, and compartments filled with mineral oil, which drown the beetles as they enter. A potential drawback of this design is the empty space around the trap, which bees will often fill with drone comb, increasing a problem with varroa if left unattended. This area of drone comb, however, can be regularly removed and disposed of when about 50% of the drone cells are capped, which can effectively trap and remove a portion of reproducing varroa mites before they can emerge.
The Freeman Beetle Trap is similar to the West Trap in function. It replaces the bottom board with a 3 mm (1/8”) screen mesh, as used for varroa control. An oil-filled tray is inserted into a compartment below the screen. Adult beetles enter the trap to escape from bees, and fall into the oil and drown. Wandering beetle larvae may also fall into the trap as they attempt to exit the hive to pupate. These traps can passively eliminate some varroa mites as well. Hives must be kept level for these traps to work.
A variety of beetle traps, such as AJ’s Beetle Eater and Beetle Jail Jr., consist of shallow oil-filled troughs with slotted lids. These traps are suspended between frames of brood or honey. Adult beetles enter the traps to hide from bees, and are drowned in the oil. These types of traps are inexpensive and easy to use, but may need to be emptied and refilled regularly. Over time the bees may tend to propolize over some of the openings. Some manufacturers suggests placing a small sheet of vinyl across the top of the trap to prevent propolizing, but this may provide the beetles with sufficient cover without entering the trap. Similar in design and function, Cutt’s Beetle Blasters are disposable, and can be discarded when full of beetles.
Beetlejail traps are designed to prevent hive beetles from invading a bee hive, by trapping them as they seek to enter, and drowning them in oil.
Sonny-Mel traps are homemade, consisting of a small plastic sandwich box, with 3mm (1/8”) holes. The bottom of the trap contains a shallow layer or layer of mineral oil, and a smaller container (usually a small plastic jar lid or bottle cap) of liquid bait. To make a bait, combine 1 cup water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and the peel of 1 ripe banana (chopped in small pieces); allow to ferment for 1-2 days. These traps are placed on the top bars of the upper super, and require the addition of a wooden frame to provide space for the trap.
This summary is provided as a convenience for the reader. The mention of any brand name or commercial product does not constitute or imply any endorsement, nor discrimination against similar products not mentioned.
The pupal stage is a vulnerable time in the beetle life cycle. Slightly moist, loose, sandy soil is optimal for their development. Locating colonies on hard clay or rocky soil, rather than light sandy soil, can reduce the number of beetle larvae that successfully pupate. If numerous larvae are discovered in the hive, the soil around the colony can be treated with a permethrin drench to prevent the larvae from pupating, killing them in the soil. Use with caution, as permethrin is highly toxic to bees!
Prepare the site by removing fresh water sources and feeding stations. Mow vegetation around the hives to be treated, to allow the solution to directly contact the soil. Mix 5 ml (1 teaspoon) GardStar® 40% EC into 1 gallon of water (enough to treat 6 hives). To avoid contaminating the bee hive surface with pesticide drift, do not use a sprayer. Apply the solution using a sprinkler can. Thoroughly drench the area in front of the hive (and beneath it, if screen bottom boards are used), wetting an area 18-24 inches around the hive, ensuring that wandering beetle larvae will contact treated soil.
Application should be made late in the evening when few bees are flying. Do not contact any surface of the bee hive or landing board with insecticide. USDA testing indicates that permethrin binds to the soil and remains active for 30-90 days, depending on soil type, pH, and moisture content. Reapply as needed.
Permethrin is corrosive and can cause irreversible eye damage. Avoid contact with eyes, and wear proper eye protection during application. Read and follow all label instructions for the legal and appropriate use of any pesticide.
Studies have indicated that soil-dwelling entomopathogenic nematodes have potential to provide some control of pupating SHB. Some species of these nematodes are commercially available from biological suppliers for use in the soil under and around bee hives. It is not yet evident whether these nematodes are effective in all soil types, or if they can persist through drought or overwintering conditions in all areas, however, they may be useful as part of an overall integrated pest management plan.
Because of insufficient scientific evidence on the efficacy of this control method, specific recommendations for the use of nematodes cannot be made at this time.
Chemical Treatment in the Hive
The chemical coumaphos (sold as Checkmite+ for varroa control) is the only pesticide registered for in-hive treatment of small hive beetles. Consult your local Cooperative Extension office or Department of Agriculture for specific recommendations in your state.
- Use 1 strip of Checkmite+ per hive.
- Treatments should not be applied while surplus honey is being collected.
- Do not place honey supers on a hive until 14 days after Checkmite+ strip has been removed, or treat hives after honey has been harvested.
- Prepare a 4x4” piece of corrugated cardboard by removing the paper surface from one side, and cover the smooth side with duct tape or shipping tape to prevent the bees from tearing up or removing it.
- Cut a single strip of Checkmite+ in half and staple both pieces to the corrugated side of the cardboard.
- Chemical resistant gloves must be worn while handling strips – do not use leather bee gloves when handling this product!
- Insert the cardboard square, strip side down, onto the center of the bottom board, or above the inner cover if screen bottom board is used.
- Beetles will seek shelter in the corrugations and contact the strip. Bees should not be able contact the pesticide.
- Leave treatment strips in place for a minimum of 42 days, but no more than 45 days.
- Dispose of strips according to label directions.
- Do not treat the same colony with coumaphos more than 2 times in one year.
These instructions are a presented as a general guideline. Users are responsible for reading and following all label instructions for the legal and appropriate use of any pesticide.
- Cabanillas, H. E. & P. J. Elzen. 2006. Infectivity of entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae) against the small hive beetle Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae). Journal of Apicultural Research 45: 49-50.
- Ellis, J.D., C.W.W. Pirk, H.R. Hepburn, G. Kastberger & P.J. Elzen. 2002. Small hive beetles survive in honeybee prisons by behavioral mimicry. Naturwissenschaften 89: 326-328.
- Ellis, J.D., S. Spiewok, K.S. Delaplane, S. Buchholz, P. Neumann, & W.L. Tedders. 2010. Susceptibility of Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) larvae and pupae to entomopathogenic nematodes. Journal of Economic Entomology 103: 1-9.
- Hood, W.M. 2004. The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida: a review. Bee World 85: 51-59.
- Sanford, M.T. 2003. Small Hive Beetle. University of Florida IFAS Extension publication ENY-133.
- Skinner, J.A. 2002. The Small Hive Beetle: a New Pest of Honey Bees. University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service publication SP 594.
- Torto, B., R.T. Arbogast, D. Van Engelsdorp, S.D. Willms, D. Purcell, D. Boucias, J.H. Tumlinson & P.E. Teal. 2007. Trapping of Aethina tumida Murray (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) from Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) colonies with an in-hive baited trap. Environmental Entomology 36:1018-1024.
- Fig 1. (left) Division of Plant Industry Archive, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, bugwood.org; (right) Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, bugwood.org.
- Fig 2. James D. Ellis, University of Florida, bugwood.org.
- Fig 3. Jon Zawislak, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, www.uaex.edu.
- Fig 4. James D. Ellis, University of Florida, bugwood.org.
- Fig 5. James D. Ellis, University of Florida, bugwood.org.
- Fig 6. Chris Bryan.
Download a printable
fact sheet from the
University of Arkansas
Division of Agriculture
How can farmers, gardeners and applicators reduce risks of honey bee injury from pesticide applications?
Do not treat fields in bloom. Be especially careful when treating crops, such as alfalfa, sunflowers and canola, which are highly attractive to bees. Insecticide labels carry warning statements about application during bloom. Always read and follow the label. Examine fields and field margins before spraying to determine if bees are foraging on flowering weeds. Milkweed, smartweed and dandelion are examples of common weeds that are highly attractive to honey bees. Where feasible, eliminate blooming weeds by mowing or tillage prior to insecticide application. While bright and colorful flowers are highly attractive to bees, some plants with inconspicuous blossoms such as dock, lambsquarter and ragweed also are visited. When examining areas for blooming plants, consider all blooming plants. It is also important to be aware that many plants only offer pollen and nectar for a few hours each day. Fields should be scouted for bees at the same time of day as the anticipated insecticide application. Choose short residual products and low hazard formulations. If insecticides must be applied during the flowering period to save a crop, select the least hazardous option. Avoid spray drift. Give careful attention to the position of blooming crops and weeds relative to wind speed and direction. Changing spray nozzles or reducing pressure can increase droplet size and reduce spray drift. Apply insecticides when bees are not foraging. Some insecticides can be applied in late evening or early morning (i.e. from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.) with relative safety. In the case of corn, bees collect pollen from tassels in the early morning and are not present in the afternoon or evening. Short residual materials applied from late afternoon until midnight do not pose a bee hazard in corn fields if blooming weeds are not present. Adjust spray programs in relation to weather conditions. Reconsider the timing of insecticide application if unusually low temperatures are expected that night. Cool temperatures can delay the degradation process and cause residues to remain toxic to bees the following day. Stop applications when temperatures rise and bees re-enter the field in early morning. Contact local beekeepers and obtain locations of bee yards. Many state law requires that apiaries be clearly identified with the name, address and phone number of the beekeeper. Identification may appear on one or more colonies, or a separate sign may be posted in the apiary. Some state departments of agriculture maintain a list of apiary locations and can help identify the owner. If colonies are present in an area that will be sprayed with a bee-toxic insecticide, contact beekeepers in time for them to protect or move the colonies. Many pesticide applications pose minimal risk to bees, and beekeepers may choose to accept some risk rather than move colonies. Notify beekeepers as far in advance as possible. Read the pesticide label. Carefully follow listed precautions with regard to bee safety. Maintain bee forage areas. Intensive agriculture often increases bee dependence on cultivated crops for forage. Encouraging bee forage plants in wild or uncultivated areas will reduce bee dependence on crop plants that may require pesticide treatments. Plants recommended for uncultivated areas include sweet clover, white Dutch clover, alfalfa, purple vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, and partridge pea. Most trees and shrubs are beneficial to bees. The most attractive include linden, black locust, honey locust, Russian olive, wild plums, elderberries, red maples, willows, and honeysuckle. Soil conservation, natural resource and game managers usually are eager to help establish plantings that benefit bees. These areas also conserve soil and provide valuable habitat for plant and wildlife conservation programs. - Marion Ellis, University of Nebraska
Status Report on the Health of the US Honey Bee Industry
What you should know about the 'honey bee crisis'
The following white paper titled 2013 Report on the National Stakeholder Conference on Honey Bee Health was released on May 3, 2013 from the The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To view a PDF of the report visit: http://www.usda.gov/documents/ReportHoneyBeeHealth.pdf.
A press release for the 2013 Report on the National Stakeholder Conference on Honey Bee Health can be found here.
The following content is from the American Association of Professional Apicluturists publication page.
AAPA Position Statement on the Health of the US Honey Bee Industry
- Approved by the general membership at the Annual Meeting held on February 5-6, 2009 in Gainesville, FL
Honey bees provide essential pollination services to US fruit, vegetable and seed growers, adding $8-14 billion annually to farm income and ensuring a continuous supply of healthy and affordable foods for the consumer. About 2 million colonies are rented by growers each year to service over 90 crops. The almond crop alone requires 1.3 million colonies and is predicted to require 2.12 million by 2012 (about 95% of all colonies currently in the US). Increasing demand comes at a time when beekeepers are confronting the most serious challenges the industry has ever faced. A steady supply of healthy colonies remains cannot be guaranteed as parasitic mites and the rigors of migratory beekeeping continue to cause significant die-offs. A weakened beekeeping industry affects not only beekeepers, but also growers and consumers who pay higher prices for fewer goods. A weakened industry also contributes to social stress in rural America and increases our dependence on foreign sources of food. To ensure an adequate and sustainable supply of healthy honey bees, it is imperative that a new degree of cooperation be attained among researchers, beekeepers and growers, supported by elected and appointed government representatives.
Since 1984, the beekeeping industry has witnessed multiple introduction of invasive species, including the parasitic tracheal mite Acarapis woodi (identified 1984), the parasitic mite Varroa destructor (identified 1987), Africanized honey bees (1991), the small hive beetle Aethina tumida (identified 1996), and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus - IAPV (identified 2007) and Nosema ceranae (identified 2007). Several of these pests were present for varying lengths of time prior to the time that they were identified.
For the past 20 years, parasitic mites have caused extensive damage to honey bees. These mites transmit viruses to bees and cause significant colony losses each year. Mite-related losses reached catastrophic proportions during the winters of 1995/1996 and 2000/2001 when colony deaths in northern states ranged between 50 and 100% in many beekeeping operations. Even in years when losses are not catastrophic, the annual death is considerably higher than it was prior to 18984. Despite considerable research efforts at both state and federal levels, effective and sustainable controls have not yet been developed for these mites. Pesticide resistant mite populations and the inability to identify and disseminate stocks of tested and proven mite-resistant bees are major contributors to these losses.
While most of the deaths during the winters of 2006/07 and 2007/2008 can be attributed to parasitic mites, about 25% of deceased colonies exhibited symptoms inconsistent with mites or any other known disorder. Migratory beekeepers trucking bees over great distances have been especially hard hit. This suggests yet another problem has beset an already beleaguered industry. This new syndrome has been named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). However, it has not been established that all of the colony deaths ascribed to CCD are from a single causal agent (i.e. CCD may itself be an aggregation of deaths from multiple causes). A list of possible causes for CCD includes beekeeper management practices, new pesticides, pesticide use patterns, nutritional deficits associated with extensive monocultures, climate change, exotic parasites and pathogens, diminished immunity to pathogens and subtle interactions among two or more of these factors. The extent of losses are not well quantified but are reflected, in part, in rental fees for colonies used for pollination which have risen sharply over the past few years.
In the past, beekeepers have been able to recover from large losses, albeit at considerable expense. Historically, migratory beekeepers would return to a southern wintering ground in the fall, and over the next few months they would divide their remaining colonies and build back numbers in time for the following spring bloom. With CCD, beekeepers are not able to restore their numbers because colonies taken to the south continue to die off over the winter and end up inadequate worker populations. This means that the number of colonies available for pollination the following year is below normal. Hopes that CCD is an ephemeral phenomenon are rapidly vanishing. Commercial beekeepers wintering in southern states during the winter of 2007/08 reported extremely high losses with colonies exhibiting many of the same symptoms as seen during the 2006/2007 winter.
The 2007 report of the NAS NRC “Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America” offers a comprehensive review of the many problems affecting pollinators in general, and the beekeeping industry in particular. The NRC committee identified several major threats to the US bee industry. These include:
- the development of pesticide resistance in the mite population and the lack of any effective resistance management program;
- a failure of the bee industry to successfully incorporate the results of bee breeding efforts into the stock and queen production industries;
- the development of resistance to the antibiotic oxytetracycline-HCl used to prevent American foulbrood, the primary bacterial disease affecting honey bees;
- cheap, imported honey that maintains strong downward pressure on the prices paid to US honey producers; and
- the Africanized honey bee that has begun to move into regions of the country critical to the sustainability of the US beekeeping industry. These areas, primarily in the southeastern US, are the major wintering grounds for migratory beekeepers and a major source of queen and package bees purchased by northern beekeepers to replace winter losses, which are high. Africanized bees out compete our traditional European bees in these areas and make it difficult to maintain pure lines of European ancestry. If germplasm from this highly defensive race of bees becomes common in the commercial population, colonies will become less manageable and liability issues for both beekeepers and growers may become significant.
The committee’s report includes a number of specific recommendations for responding to these problems.
The current problems being experienced by beekeepers highlight several areas for improvement. First, adequate methods for accurately assessing the health of the beekeeping industry do not exist. This makes it difficult to know the severity of losses with any meaningful degree of certainty. Estimates of colony losses during the winter of 2007/2008 range from 750,000 to 1,000,000 colonies, but there is no way to substantiate those numbers. It is imperative that this informational deficit be remedied. This information deficit was highlighted in the 2007 report of the NAS NRC “Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America.” Elected representatives and appointed government officials depend on accurate information in order to justify financial decisions. It is the responsibility of the industry to ensure that this information is available. This will require increased cooperation by members of the industry with government survey groups such as the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In addition, growers should be included in any survey of colony health in order to better assess availability of colonies for pollination and pollination fees.
Second, adequate methods for defining and assessing the cause or causes of death of honey bee colonies are not well defined, universally accepted or widely implemented; and in some cases, they do not exist. This makes it difficult to ascribe annual die-offs to specific causes, and that makes it difficult for beekeepers to know what problems should be demanding their greatest attention. This also makes it difficult for researchers to know how to best allocate their efforts on behalf of the industry. A well-defined list of symptoms for each honey bee pest, parasite, pathogen and predator should be developed to allow for differential diagnosis of honey bee pathologies. Due to the difficulty in diagnosing a problem that has already killed a colony, it may be necessary to collect and archive samples of bees from commercial operations on a regular basis. These samples can then be examined in the event of subsequent loss.
Third, the bee industry has not effectively incorporated the results of research on bee breeding for mite and pathogen resistant stock into its standard operating procedures. Only a portion of bee breeders consistently monitor their stocks for levels of tracheal and varroa mite infestations and select breeder queens based on those assessments, and the effectiveness of introducing genes for hygienic behavior and other mite resistant traits into established commercial stocks remains unknown. Queen breeders still use long-standing, tried and true methods of rearing queens, and no research on new methodologies is being conducted. Finally, there is no independent stock certification program for honey bee stock; therefore, there is no way for beekeepers to know that the stock they are purchasing is truly resistant to mites and pathogens. Without such a guarantee, consumers will not pay higher prices for selected stocks;, and without an economic incentive, queen producers will not adopt more rigorous standards because they cannot count on a return on their investment.
- AAPA supports the findings and recommendations of the report from the NAS NRC “Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America” and urges government officials to use that report as a foundation for all decisions affecting their response to the current problem, especially as those decisions affect the direction of research and extension funds.
- The NRC report was issued before the current problems with CCD arose. Therefore, AAPA supports adding CCD to the list of problems identified by the NAS NRC committee. CCD should be seen as an addition to, rather than as a replacement for, the recommendations contained in the committee’s report. Research in this area should focus broadly on the effects of environmental and genetic factors on bee health, including, but not limited to, management practices, nutritional deficits associated with large monocultures and climate change, pesticides, exotic pathogens and parasites and stock selection.
- AAPA recommends that The National Agricultural Statistics Service adopt those recommendations of the NAS NRC “Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America” that pertain to the collection of information on pollinators and honey bee health. Further, AAPA recommends the US bee industry cooperate fully with all efforts to collect information on the status of honey bee health in the US.
- Reliance on pesticides alone for pest control has not proven a sustainable strategy for beekeepers. AAPA recommends that the US bee industry commit itself through its national organizations to the adoption of mite and pathogen resistant stocks of honey bees. An effective program for honey bee breeding and queen production should be developed that is based on cooperation among industry, research and extension personnel. This effort should involve an independent, third-party certification program to provide the service of testing selected honey bee stocks for incorporation of desirable traits.
- Selected importation of bees from outside of North America would provide expanded genetic resources for breeding programs, but importations may introduce stocks that are not well adapted to the climate and are susceptible to parasites and pathogens on this continent. Imports also have inherent risks of introducing additional exotic pests to the US. AAPA recommends that APHIS maintain oversight of the introduction of stocks from outside the borders of the US. Exceptions for the introduction of semen and eggs should be considered on a case by case basis.
- Low prices for honey limits the adoption of sustainable management practices by beekeepers; therefore, AAPA recommends that the letter and spirit of the law regarding the importation of honey into the US should be strictly enforced to prevent the artificial lowering of prices paid to US honey producers.
- AAPA recommends that the US bee industry commit itself through its national organizations to the adoption of IPM practices for the maintenance of honey bee colonies and the production of hive products. Several large food distributors have already expressed an interest in IPM standards for honey. Because low prices for honey provide obstacles for the adoption of sustainable management practices by beekeepers, a set of consumer-driven IPM standards for honey and other hive products should be developed along with an independent, third-party certification system to verify compliance. Products receiving certification will command a higher price in the market place and therefore, provide producers with an economic incentive for adopting these principals.
- AAPA recommends that extension activities that focus broadly on colony health be pursued with increased vigor in order to ensure that stakeholders have access to the latest and most effective information. These activities should be pursued cooperatively among programs where possible.
For more information about the American Association of Professional Apicluturists, and a .pdf of this document, see their homepage at http://aapa.cyberbee.net/
ABRC2010 Bee CAP Overview and Stationary Apiaries
The following was presented at the 2010 American Bee Research Conference in Orlando, FL.
More presentations from this conference can be found at Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference 2010
ABRC2010 Beneficial Microflora in Honey Bee Colonies
The following was presented at the 2010 American Bee Research Conference in Orlando, FL.
More presentations from this conference can be found at Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference 2010
ABRC2010 A New Assay to Measure Mite Grooming Behavior
The following was presented at the 2010 American Bee Research Conference in Orlando, FL.
3. Andinof, G.K. & G.J. Hunt - A NEW ASSAY TO MEASURE MITE GROOMING BEHAVIOR - Grooming behavior is one of the known mechanisms of defense for honey bees against parasitic mites. Varroa destructor is often considered the biggest beekeeping problem within the U.S. and around the world. Mite-grooming behavior has been described as the ability of the adult bees to remove Varroa mites during grooming and has been associated with mites that have been chewed by the bees’ mandibles, but the proportion of chewed mites is extremely tedious to measure.
We developed an easier assay to measure mite-grooming behavior that can be used for selection in breeding programs. Wood cages with screened tops and bottoms were used to hold a frame of bees collected from the brood nest. Bees were transferred to comb containing pollen and nectar but without brood. The mites removed during grooming were collected in sticky boards for three days at room temperature (22-25 °C) and then counted. The remaining mites on the adult bees were collected and counted using carbon dioxide (CO2) to anesthetize the bees and powdered sugar to remove the mites. The percentage of the mites removed was calculated.
A significant relationship (p = 0.0285) was found between the proportion of mites removed in the lab assay and the proportion of chewed mites on sticky boards from the source colonies. This relationship indicates that the colonies that removed the highest percentage of mites in the caged adult bees were also the colonies that had the highest percentage of chewed mites (Figure). These results suggest that the method used to measure mite-grooming behavior is effective. In addition, we also found a negative relationship (p = 0.0072) between the percentage of mites removed and mite infestation of adult bees, which indicates that the colonies with the highest percentage of mites removed in the cage assay, had the lowest population of mites on adult bees. These results suggest that the low population of mites present on the adult bees is due to grooming.
More presentations from this conference can be found at Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference 2010
ABRC2010 Variability and Correlations Among Five Traits Associated with American Foulbrood Resistance in a Canadian Breeding Population
The following was presented at the 2010 American Bee Research Conference in Orlando, FL.
19. Melathopoulos, A.P., S.F. Pernal, A. van Hagaf & L.J. Foster VARIABILITY AND CORRELATIONS AMONG FIVE TRAITS ASSOCIATED WITH AMERICAN FOULBROOD (AFB) RESISTANCE IN A CANADIAN BREEDING POPULATION – The demonstration of AFB resistance in the 1930s lead to the discovery of several resistance traits (Spivak & Gilliam, 1998 Bee World 79:124-134, 169-186). The heritability of these traits in commercial breeding populations, their correlation and their relative contribution to overall resistance, however, remains poorly understood. For this reason we compared the distribution of AFB traits within a breeding population.
We assembled colonies in a common apiary headed by queens from eight different regions (New Zealand, Chile, Hawaii, California, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario). These were tested for 1) Hyg Beh: hygienic behavior, 2) Larval AFB: the percentage of in vitro reared larva with AFB after being fed Paenibacillus larva spores, 3) Nurse Spore: the retention of spores by nurse bees fed spore-containing syrup, 4) Patch AFB: the percentage of first-instar larvae in comb developing AFB in situ after inoculation and 5) Comb AFB: the number of AFB cells in colonies following inoculation with AFB-infected comb.
There were five significant correlations among the traits (Figure), the strongest being between four related traits; Hyg Beh measured at 24h versus 48h, and Nurse Spore from whole colony tests in 2008 versus cage tests in 2009. More notable, however, were correlations among a number of seemingly unrelated traits. Principal component analysis revealed that among these later traits Hyg Beh and Patch AFB (14d after infection) loaded diagonally on the first component, while Larval AFB loaded diagonally to Patch AFB (7d after infection) on the second component. This suggests that Hyg Beh and Larval AFB may work synergistically but at different stages of disease’s development. Nurse Spore loaded strongly on the third component suggesting the trait is unrelated to the other traits.
Our next step will be to estimate quantitative genetic parameters for each trait by assessing them among an F1 generation produced through a partial diallele cross of selected colonies.