Bee Ready vol. 78

Dale K. Pollet  |  5/8/2008 1:49:36 AM

By Dale K. Pollet 78th Edition

Professor-Dept. of Entomology, May 2008

Over the last two years we have continually heard about CCD, (Colony Collapse Disorder), and thankfully we have not had to deal with this problem directly. There continues to be speculation as to the cause, and several committees have been developed to evaluate potential causes. We continue to feel that the primary cause is stress on the colonies created by the splitting of colonies by loading them up and moving them across the country for pollination services on several commodities. This process changes environmental conditions and food sources plus feeding, wear and tear on the bees with loading and unloading and honey removal, and the movement on trucks across the country. All of these things make the minor problems common to a hive much larger and more damaging due to the stress on the hives. No matter what we think, several research and extension activities across the United States hopefully will shed some light on the situation. Here is a listing of these programs and where they are being conducted.

Honey Bee Research Progress at Land Grant Universities 2007-2008

Action and Outcomes from the Hatch (Multi-State Research) NC-508 rapid response committee [Sustainable Solutions to Problems Affecting Honey Bee Health]: An early response of Land Grant Universities to the USDA-sponsored organizing workshop on Colony Collapse Disorder.

The rapid response project NC-508 Sustainable Solutions to Problems Affecting Honey Bee Health was formed to address the current Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) beginning in July of 2007. An initial meeting was held in Chicago, Ill., in mid-August with representation from Land Grant Universities, Federal Agencies and State Departments of Agriculture participating. During this meeting a number of activities were initiated. A series of white papers were assigned for development to summarize the current state of knowledge in areas important to understanding and responding to the current honey bee declines. A working sub-group was also established to begin the development of a National outreach (Extension) effort to educate stakeholders and the general public. Goals for the research agenda were broadly discussed by participants and project objectives were established.

This committee also began preparations to submit a proposal to a newly established grant opportunity for a CSREES National Research Initiative Coordinated Agriculture Project addressing managed bees. The committee met at Purdue University in late October to organize and begin to write a multi-state group proposal for submission to the CAP request for proposals. Significant to this effort was the completion of the assigned white papers. These were finalized prior to the Purdue meeting and were used as a foundation for the proposed CAP project. For this brief report NC-508 members were polled for updates on early progress toward goals of the project and toward solutions to management of honey bees. Most of this information is related to the Multi-state project, but some pertains to the larger issue of pollinator decline and some is based on efforts that have been ongoing at participating institutions.

  • White Papers Developed and Posted on the NC-508 web page
    1. Region-specific economic thresholds and standardization of sampling
    2. Best management practices
    3. Biotic Threats to Honey Bee Health
    4. Effects of Environmental Chemicals and Miticides on Colony Health
    5. Honey bee genetics and breeding
    6. Coordination of Efforts – Role of Extension and eXtension

  • Leveraged funding for research (funded 2007-8)
    1. Additional Hatch funds for MI, PA, SC, IN, CN and other institutions.
    2. New Evans-Allen grant (TN State).
    3. Critical Issues grants for pathogen and pesticide-related honey bee research at Penn State, Illinois, Clemson and Georgia.
    4. SARE grants for non-Apis pollinator research/extension (IN, OR,DE, WV)
    5. NRI funding to NC,IL, IN, MD, NY

  • Extension and Outreach efforts initiated or enhanced
    1. An Extension honey bee diagnostic service pilot project in Oregon has been established in conjunction with the OSU Insect ID Clinic using Smith-Lever support $36,000 for 2 years. Screening services are now available for the following pathogens and pests: American Foulbrood, European Foulbrood, Chalkbrood, Stonebrood, Nosema (Species ID NOT available at this time), Varroa mites, Tracheal mites, Insect pests (wax moth, hive beetles, bee louse, etc.).

    1. An eXtension working group was established to develop a Honey Bee Health Community of Practice and eXtension web site. Extension Apiculture Specialists at the University of Tennessee, Michigan State University and Purdue University are leading this effort.

    1. A web site at University of Illinois, called BeeSpotter, is a partnership between citizen-scientists and the professional science community designed to educate the public about pollinators by engaging them in a data collection effort of importance to the nation. It is a web-based portal at the University of Illinois for learning about honey bees and bumble bees and for contributing data to a nationwide effort to baseline information on population status of these insects.

    1. Many Extension apiculture information web pages have expanded or developed comprehensive information for the public on the importance of pollinators and the Colony Collapse Disorder issue.

    2. A recent survey of 741 beekeepers in the Mid-Atlantic region showed strong support for research leading to IPM and/or non-chemical approaches to honey bee mite control. Beekeeper were given a list of possible research topics and asked to rank the top three items in order of importance to them. Of those responding, 26% identified IMP control of mites and non-chemical control methods for mites (two topics combined) as their number one priority. Other top ranked priorities included other bee diseases (23%) and honey bee viruses (19%). Only 13% identified new chemical miticides as their number one research priority.

    1. Beekeepers were given a list of possible information transfer techniques used by extension specialists to deliver information. The surveyed beekeepers were asked to rank the top three extension activities on which MAAREC should focus, in order of importance to them. Of those that responded to this question, 28% identified producing printed material on disease (and mite) diagnosis/control and bee management, and producing free extension pamphlets (two choices combined) as their number one extension activity. Other top choices included writing articles for local, state and regional newsletters (14%) and giving talks at local, state and regional beekeeper meetings (11%).

  • Initiated Studies and Preliminary Outcome Examples


· During the past year, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has initiated a project aimed at learning more about the background level of exposure of honey bees to a wide variety of pesticides by analyzing pollen trapped from four hives on a weekly basis throughout the honey bee foraging year. These hives are at urban, suburban and rural locations so that we can look at differences in pesticide exposure by time and location.

· Results to date show that the honey bees are exposed to a wide variety of pesticidal chemicals and that their concentrations can vary by a large amount over a relatively short time period.

· This study has been supported by approximately $120,000 of state funds, mostly in the form of salary paid to personnel while working on this project.


· University of Florida is testing how Amitraz and imidacloprid affect honey bee susceptibility to varroa infestations. In particular, they are looking at how the chemotherapeutic history of bee larvae affects their attractiveness to varroa and their ability to withstand varroa pressures.

· Florida has finished year 1 of a two year collaborative project (with the University of Georgia and Clemson University) where they are testing the efficacy of non-chemical control methods (resistant stock, trapping, nematodes) at reducing small hive beetle populations.

· Kentucky State University and Florida are almost finished collecting data for a migratory beekeeping study. In this study, they measured varroa mite, tracheal mite, and nosmea levels in colonies prior to the colonies being moved to California and after they returned. They are attempting to determine if any of these parameters allow us to predict the health of the colonies when they return to Florida.


· The University of Georgia seeks to increase understanding of honey bee disorders, develop sustainable methods for their management, and optimize honey bee pollination performance. University of Georgia research/extension delivers this information through a stream of annual Extension outreach events, chief of which is the annual Young Harris College / University of Georgia Beekeeping Institute.

· IPM on small hive beetles (SHB), a nest invader of honey bees. SHB are a pest of growing regional virulence in the Southeast. The beetles consume bee brood and stored pollen and honey. Uncontrolled populations cause reduced performance of honey bee colonies and eventual nest abandonment. The University of Georgia has focused on controlling SHB non-chemically with genetically resistant bee stocks, traps, and exclusion devices.

· This research constitutes the basis of the UGA IPM recommendations for small hive beetle and will be included in a Best Management Practices guide under construction by a committee of the American Association of Professional Apiculturalists.

· Research in Georgia has confirmed the utility of honey bees as pollinators of rabbiteye blueberry in the Southeast. It has shown that the pollinating efficacy of honey bees is not measurably impacted by sub-lethal levels of mites or small hive beetles. This reinforces that research invested in sustainable honey bee management is a matter of public interest.

· The University of Georgia is co-founder and organizer of the annual Young Harris College / University of Georgia Beekeeping Institute. Since its inception in 1992 the Institute has become the largest and most comprehensive bee educational event in the Southeast. Annual attendance is about 100, drawing from Georgia and many states throughout the East. The Institute is home to the Georgia Master Beekeeper Program, a graded program in which participants advance from lower to advanced grades based on experience, exam results, collaborative research, and public service.


· There is considerable variability in gut gene expression among colony collapse disorder bees from different colonies, apiaries and geographical regions.

· Despite this variability, immune response genes show decreased expression in colony collapse disorder bees.


· Selecting for resistance to Varroa mites with $80K in Hatch funds and $24K National Honey Board funds. Indiana has also received NC SARE funds (118K) that support this effort.

· Currently performing genomic studies with funded NRI project to identify genes involved in resistance to Varroa and genes involved in aggressive behavior of Africanized honey bees.


The Agricultural Experiment Station at Michigan State University has funded
a research project ($113,000 for two years) to study honey bee. An MSU Apiculture specialist is studying the effect of high fructose corn syrup on honey bee health, and how varroa mites, nosema and other factors contribute to winter colony mortality in Michigan.

· The MSU researcher has been working with Mite Zapper LLC to produce and market the Mitezapper. Mitezapper is a device that makes "drone brood trapping" easier
because it uses electricity to heat a frame of drone comb inside a bee
colony, so no drone frame removal and freezing is needed. The product
should be in the market some time during the summer of 2008.

Michigan State University, in collaboration with the USDA Beltsville Bee Lab is currently collecting data for a study to determine the effect of hive migration on honey bee physiology. Honey bees migrated from CA to FL, or from GA to MI and back to GA were sampled for juvenile hormone titers (as a proxy for stress since foragers have higher JH levels) and protein content.

· The MSU web receives about 5 million hits per year and
updated CCD related information was posted and linked there. MSU’s apiculture specialist has also given about 10 CCD related talks to various organizations in Michigan.


· Scientists at the University of Nebraska have developed techniques
for combining oxalic acid treatment with requeening colonies in late
summer to effectively reduce varroa populations in colonies preparing
for winter. Requeening colonies with queen cells creates an
artificial break in brood rearing and makes all mites in the colony
vulnerable to treatment, and young queens in all colonies increase
colony vigor. They are currently investigating the effect of oxalic
acid treatment on queen survival and semen viability in reproductive
members of the colony.


· OSU Extension has provided $36,120 for startup funds 2 years of .10 FTE for a Honey Diagnostic Service to be established and run in conjunction with the OSU Insect ID Clinic. Information on the services available can be found here.

· A survey is being distributed to Apiculturalists in Oregon to establish what diseases & pests are impacting their hives and what practices are being used (chemical & cultural). A copy of the survey can be found on the Honey Diagnostic Service web page.


· A bioinformatics tool known as BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) made it possible to rapidly search and compare nucleotide and protein databases and eventually identify the foreign organisms present in the affected colonies. By the time this work was finished, researchers had identified 18 pathogens in bees from CCD colonies.

· In the October 12, 2007, issue of Science, researchers reported that one pathogen in particular, Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), appeared in almost every case, making it a prime suspect as the cause of the collapse, as a marker for some other cause, or perhaps as the last straw that broke the back of already highly stressed colonies.

· Managing hives for disease: Penn State also has begun to integrate emerging knowledge about CCD into extension programs and classroom teaching to make sure the industry and the public have as much current and usable information as possible. One new recommendation is changing how beekeepers use and reuse combs in their hives.

· Samples were collected from seven US states in cooperation with the CCD Working Group.

· LC/MS-MS and GC/MS were used to analyze pollen, nectar, honey, brood, adult bees, wax and royal jelly samples from a broad sampling of CCD and other beehives using a modified QuEChERS method.

· Unprecedented levels of the acaricides fluvalinate (up to 204 ppm) and coumaphos were found in all comb and foundation wax samples, while lower levels of 47 other pesticides and metabolites including 8 pyrethroids, 5 organophosphates, 5 carbamates, 3 neonicotinoids, 3 chlorinated cyclodienes, 3 insect growth regulators, 2 organochlorines, 14 fungicides, and 6 herbicides prevailed in pollen and bees.

· In a total of 108 pollen samples analyzed, 46 different pesticides including six of their metabolites were identified. Up to 17 different pesticide detections at an average of five residues per sample were found. Fluvalinate, coumaphos and chlorpyrifos were the most commonly detected pesticides. Only three samples from 2007 lacked detections.

· In a total of 88 wax samples analyzed, 20 different pesticides including two of their metabolites were identified. Up to 13 different pesticide detections at an average of five residues per sample were found. As in the case of pollen, fluvalinate, coumaphos and chlorpyrifos were the most commonly detected pesticides with fluvalinate and coumaphos being found in 100% of samples from 2007.

· In a total of 45 bee and brood samples analyzed, 13 different pesticides including two of their metabolites were identified. Up to 6 different pesticide detections at an average of three residues per sample were found. As in the case of pollen and wax, fluvalinate and coumaphos were the most commonly detected pesticides being found in 100% of samples from 2007.

· Two common surfactants/pesticide adjuvants were highly toxic to adult honey bees at an oral dose of 1% in artificial nectar.

· A 25 kGy dose from 27Co60 reduced over 50% of wax acaricide residues.

· Exposure of honey bees to pesticides is a combination of both in-hive and out-of-hive pesticides. The large numbers and multiple kinds of pesticides that have been found could result in potentially toxic interactions. These chronic levels of pesticides in pollen, wax, bees and brood at potentially acute levels need to be further investigated in regards to their causative role in CCD.

· Analysis of lineages of IAPV found in US and elsewhere: Collaborative research with Columbia, USDA, and PSU. Diagnostic real time polymerase chain reaction assays for IAPV detection were established and sequences for IAPV were obtained from additional bees in the United States, Canada, Australia and Israel. A phylogenetic analysis of the data indicates the existence of at least three distinct IAPV lineages, two of them circulating in the United States. Analysis of representatives from each proposed lineage suggests the possibility of recombination events and reveals differences in coding sequence that may have implications for virulence.
The three lineages of IAPV include the following; 1) Group with Israeli sequences (original Sela sequence and recent Israeli samples from colonies exhibiting CCD like symptoms), 2) An East coast lineage group, including samples from British Columbia and New Brunswick Canada and 3) A West coast lineage group, including two separate samples of Australian imports. Sequences from multiple regions of Australian IAPV are very similar to the sequences from several west coast operations having CCD which suggests that indeed Australian packages have introduced IAPV into the US. The East-coast lineage is not linked to Australian packages; one sample from 2002 had this lineage of IAPV; however, the IAPV was not widely distributed in 2004 and not detected samples from across PA, LA, AZ, and GA in 2004.

· Routes of Entry of IAPV: Two additional potential routes of entry need to be further studied. Royal jelly from China may have been a source of introduction. Another potential introduction route may be the small hive beetle; two separate samples of SHB from CCD operations had IAPV in both adults and larvae, with sequences matching the East coast lineage.

· Observed spread of IAPV between colonies at PSU: New packages bought through normal channels were found to have IAPV in 2007. These packages were installed in apiaries containing splits of long-term survivor colonies that may have resistance since they have survived multiple years of varroa infestation and virus infection. Within two weeks after installing the packages, the long-term survivor colonies were found to have detectable IAPV. Infected colonies were moved to remote location (separate from research colonies lacking IAPV) and monitored. Over a two-month period, the IAPV was cleared from detection in the long-term survivor colonies, suggesting that genotypes resistant for IAPV and other viruses to exist in the US.

· Pathogenesis of IAPV in healthy colonies: Introduction of IAPV into small colonies from Hawaii was done in greenhouse experiments, with artificial feeding (sugar syrup and MegaBee artificial pollen). Bees lacked varroa mites; treated with Fumagillan B to remove nosema; no KBV detected; Bees did have DWV infections on arrival. Colonies were allowed to establish and to go through one complete brood cycle. Colonies feed IAPV from US operations via sugar water. Within one week after giving the virus, dramatic bee mortality observed, with bees dying outside the colonies across the room in the green house. (Floor was gridded and distribution of dead bees did not correspond with hive openings or windows in green house.) Bees found on floor with paralytic type movements; guard bees were observed to be removing paralytic bees from colonies and flying across the room; majority of “twitcher” bees had IAPV detected by PCR and confirmed by sequencing. Colonies declined with 1 month to small clusters with loss of queens seen later in colony; half of colonies had queens still laying eggs. Currently, quantitative PCR analyses being done on samples of bees and eggs taken from each colony. To date, these data indicate that IAPV is a highly pathogenic virus; similar findings have been made recently in Israel. These data do NOT yet support IAPV being the only cause of CCD. We still suspect that additional stresses are needed to trigger CCD. Experiment is being repeated.

· Host specificity of IAPV and other bee viruses - otential impact on native pollinators:
Research at PSU has found that pollination itself allows for viral transmission; pollen balls on incoming foragers has detectable bee viruses without the forager herself being infected. Native hymenopteran pollinators have viral infections with “normal” honey bee viruses (DWV, BQCV, SBV, KBV); sequence analysis indicates that the lineages of these DWV and BQCV are not separable from those present in bees. Native hymenopteran pollinators collected nearby non-CCD apiaries do not have IAPV, like the honey bees in these apiaries. Native hymenopteran pollinators collected nearby or in CCD apiary do have IAPV and the sequences correspond to those of the honey bees from the CCD apiary. These data indicate that the ‘honey bee viruses’ are not infecting honey bees but also native species; impacts of IAPV on native bee species needs to be investigated to determine what role it has on survivorship
These data are included in a manuscript that will be submitted shortly for review and publication (multiple authors from PSU, PDA, Columbia, USDA)

South Carolina

· South Carolina has a Master Beekeeper Program and "News for South Carolina Beekeepers" a newsletter (distributed to 2,050 beekeepers) that provides excellent avenues to publish and make presentations on the latest news on colony collapse disorder. A Clemson Apiculture Specialist/ Professor, presented up-to-date information on "Colony Collapse Disorder" at the at the South Carolina
Beekeepers Association spring meeting.


· Research efforts include:

Small Hive Beetle: testing an effective small hive beetle bait to be used in a trap placed inside the honey bee colony.

· Dogwood Pollination and Breeding: to determine the native pollinator for several cultivars of flowering dogwood, Cornus spp. and improve methods to pollinate resistant cultivars in cages. A molecular method is also being developed to identify pollen species from corbicular pollen.

· Crop pollination: Improving crop pollination using supplemental companion plantings of bee food plants.

· Extension efforts include:

· Tennessee Beemaster Program: Continuing the Tennessee Beemaster Program classes for beekeepers (700 plus participants have attended and passed the “Beeginner/Hobbyist” level).

· eXtension: Developing a Community of Practice for Improved Pollinator Health in eXtension. The application is nearing completion and a core group of experts to contribute has been identified (90%).

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