Coordinated Research Aims To Improve Honey Bee
February 1, 2008
In response to a fast-spreading
syndrome called colony collapse disorder (CCD) that's striking honey bees
nationwide, scientists at Agricultural Research Service (ARS) bee laboratories across the country are
pooling their expertise. They want to learn whats causing the
disappearance of the honey bees that add about $15 billion a year to the value
of U.S. crops by pollinating fruit, vegetable, tree nut and berry crops. Some
beekeepers have already lost one-half to two-thirds of their colonies to CCD.
Pettis, research leader at the
Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., is a coordinator of the newly
established five-year Areawide Program to Improve Honey Bee Health,
Survivorship and Pollination Availability. Entomologist
Adamczyk at the
Beneficial Insects Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas, helps Pettis coordinate
the program, along with
DeGrandi-Hoffman at Tucson, Ariz., and
Rinderer at Baton Rouge, La. This is the first such initiative to bring
various components of all of the federal bee laboratories together to solve a
Researchers at Beltsville are attempting to improve the longevity of honey
bee queens, find effective controls for Nosema protozoa and varroa
mites, and reduce migratory colony stress. In Weslaco, work also focuses on
controlling varroa mites and Nosema, reducing migratory stress and
developing disease-control measures.
Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Laboratory in Baton
Rouge, Rinderer and colleagues are looking into bee stock evaluation and
improvement, with a view toward using genetic selection and colony size to
improve early spring buildup.
In Tucson, Degrandi-Hoffman is leading scientists at the
Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in studying carbohydrate and protein
supplements, Africanized bee stock improvements and varroa mite controls.
The new bee-focused areawide program will also incorporate university
partners, apiculturists and many others. By the end of this coordinated
five-year effort, researchers hope to have specific recommendations ready for
beekeepers to use to manage their bees more efficiently and improve colony
survival, especially during long-range transport.
more about this research in the February 2008 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.