This pilot study was conducted to 1) validate and trouble shoot the sample collection process we proposed to use for a national survey effort, 2) assess the infrastructures related to shipping, storing and analyzing the specimens, and 3) gather baseline data for a broader survey of honey bee pests and pathogens that was initiated in 2010. The participating states were California, Florida, and Hawaii and a total of 87 samples were collected. We found that our collection protocol worked well, and found that shipping live bees is a good and viable alternative to collecting and shipping bees on dry ice; however, the rate of surviving bees decreases dramatically with transit times longer than 5 days. In all, samples from 13 different organisms with known associations with managed honey bees were examined. We found three viruses, Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV) and Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV) in all surveyed states. Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) were found in both California and Florida, but not in Hawaii. Slow Paralysis Virus (SPV) was not found in any samples. While N. ceranae was ubiquitous in all samples, N. apis was notably absent, none being detected in any samples. Tracheal mites and Tropilaelaps mites were also not found in any samples. Varroa mites were found in all states, and were found particularly abundantly in some Hawaii samples. This survey was not designed to be comprehensive representation of the country, and the results should not be interpreted to mean the absence of certain pathogens in the US or in any one particular state.
Honey bee colonies that have become queenless and develop laying workers are considered lost by beekeepers since they can rarely be requeened by introducing an adult queen. We tested the hypothesis that such colonies could be successfully requeened with queen cells. The results showed that both Russian and Italian colonies could be requeened with queen cells. Overall, about 60% of colonies were successfully requeened with equal success for Russian and Italian colonies.
High bee colony losses in the United States this past year can be attributed in part to an unresolved syndrome termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). An extensive genetic survey found one virus, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), to be strongly associated with CCD. Using DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analyses, we provide evidence that IAPV was present in U.S. bees collected several years prior to CCD, and prior to the recent importation into the U.S. of honey bees from Australia and New Zealand. While downplaying the importance of bee importation for the appearance of CCD, these results indicate an urgent need to test specific strains of IAPV for their disease impacts. Honey bees are of great agricultural importance in the U.S. and worldwide (Morse and Calderone, 2000), and are continually threatened by parasites and pathogens. During the winter of 2006-2007, a rare and extreme syndrome of honey bee losses was observed. This syndrome, labeled Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is defined by a rapid depopulation of adult bees in colonies, often leaving a substantial standing brood of healthy larvae (http://www.ento.psu.edu/MAAREC/ColonyCollapseDisorder.html). Survey evidence suggests that roughly 25% of beekeepers have suffered the effects of CCD, as defined by characteristic traits and colony losses of >50% (van Engelsdorp et al., 2007). Many beekeepers lost substantially more than 50% of their operations. While events similar to CCD have occurred in past decades (Wilson and Menapace, 1979), the severity of this event has caused appropriate concern nationally and internationally. Recently, an unprecedented 'metagenomic' approach was used to detect parasites and pathogens in bees associated with CCD and controls (Cox-Foster et al., 2007). This study described numerous microbes from bees, some known as pathogens and others that had not been seen prior in honey bees. One striking result was the tight correlation
The response of Russian honey bees to adult small hive beetles (SHB) and their effect on colony survival were compared with Italian honey bees. In a study conducted near Titusville, FL using observation hives, both stocks removed significantly more dead beetles (Russian = 67%, Italian = 57%) than live beetles (Russian = 13%, Italian = 0). Russian honey bees also removed live beetles (4.01 ± 1.96 min) as fast as the Italian bees removed dead beetles (4.30 ± 1.11 min) suggesting height- ened aggressiveness toward SHB adults by Russian bees. This behav- ior may have played an important role in the survival of field colonies monitored for five months near Lula, Mississippi. Results from this experiment showed that Italian bees were more susceptible to small hive beetle infestation, having significantly higher colony mortality (41%) observed in October (five months after colony establishment). Russian colonies suffered lower mortality (10%) during this time, which was similar to the colony loss recorded for Italian bees in June, one month after the colonies were made. It is possible that aggression to invading SHB by Russian bees may have prevented oviposition of beetles in the colonies. Studies should be done to further assess beetle removal or aggression to beetles as a potential mechanism of resist- ance to SHB by this mite-resistant stock.
In 1990, a honey bee swarm unlike any before found in the United States was identified just outside the small south Texas town of Hidalgo. With that identification, Africanized honey bees were no longer a problem we would have some day. Africanized honey bees had arrived.
In cold-winter locales, the temperature becomes too cool for workers to forage, and there is no nectar or pollen to be had anyway. In response, the European honey bee superorganism goes into a sort of "hibernation," in order to conserve its food reserves until better times.
Yesterday afternoon, driving over the pass from Nevada to Lake Tahoe, we encountered rain and strong gusty winds. It felt like navigating the honey market of the last few years. The current international honey market is characterized by crisis, conflict and chaos. However, we are hopefully in a transition from a crisis of supply to stability. To understand the future directions it may be helpful to review the past.
Early spring and early fall are likely the most appropriate times to sample, or during winter if you're going to almonds. No need to look for nosema in July or August, as it normally "disappears" during that time.
You may have noticed that I'm doing a sort of "about face" in my assessment of the impact of Nosema ceranae upon colony health. I feel that I owe the reader an explanation. I just get this nagging feeling that there's more to the invasion of this new parasite into the U.S. bee population than meets the eye. To truly understand the potential impact of nosema, we must look beyond its effects upon individual bees, and rather focus on its impact upon the superorganism that we call the honey bee colony.
How do pesticides relate to colony collapse? That sounds like a simple question, but as I said in the last installment, it's complicated (there are rarely simple answers in biology). In order to begin to understand the effects of manmade pesticides upon bee health, we must first back up and understand some of the complex biology involved in natural bee/plant/toxin interactions.
At the height of the British Empire, Prince Albert, the German-born husband of Queen Victoria, conceived the idea of a major exhibition of all things British. The event would showcase the political might and ingenuity of the Industrial Revolution, and inspire and thrill the 6.2 million visitors a who would, attend. An elaborate glass structure, the Crystal Palace, was built to house the, event. Of the 13,006 exhibits, the 60 displays on beekeeping were among the most popular, and, like the rest of the exhibition, the beekeeping displays documented a time of innovation and experimentation.