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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Breeding, Genetics, Stock Improvement and Management of Russian Honey Bees for Mite and Small Hive Beetle Control and Pollination

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Title: The Effects of Hive Size, Feeding, and Nosema Ceranae on the Size of Winter Clusters of Russian Honey Bee Colonies

Authors
item Rinderer, Thomas
item De Guzman, Lilia
item Bourgeois, Lanie
item Frake, Amanda

Submitted to: Bee Culture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 18, 2009
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Citation: Rinderer, T.E., De Guzman, L.I., Bourgeois, A.L., Frake, A.M. 2010. The Effects of Hive Size, Feeding, and Nosema Ceranae on the Size of Winter Clusters of Russian Honey Bee Colonies. Science of Bee Culture. 2(1):1-6. Supplement to Bee Culture. 138(3).

Interpretive Summary: In a first experiment, from August 2007 to February 2008, colonies of Russian honey bees were housed in 8- or 10-frame hives and fed or not fed sugar syrup and protein supplement patties. From August to November when a natural nectar and pollen flow occurred, the colonies were not fed. From August to November colonies in 8-frame hives grew significantly more than colonies housed in 10-frame hives. Colonies that were in 8-frame hives or were fed three pounds (1.36 Kg) of protein supplement for three weeks in November were larger in late January in comparison to their size in November. In a second experiment, colonies were housed in 8- or 10-frame hives and fed or not fed sugar syrup and protein supplement patties from November 2008 to early February 2009. Colonies in 8-frame hives grew more than colonies in 10-frame hives. Colonies that were fed grew significantly more than colonies that were not fed. In the second experiment, smaller colonies grew significantly more than larger colonies. Nearly all colonies were tracheal mite-free with the exception of two colonies that had high tracheal mite infestations. Although most colonies did have Nosema ceranae infestations, about 80% of the colonies had spore count averages below the commonly accepted treatment level of 1 x 10 to the sixth spores/bee. Nevertheless, differences among colonies in numbers of N. ceranae spores were not associated with different hive sizes, different feeding treatments or different colony growths.

Technical Abstract: USDA-ARS Russian honey bees are naturally inclined to produce smaller colonies during winter than Italian honey bees. Consequently, fewer of them are likely to meet the size standards necessary for almond pollination in February. Management procedures may result in more Russian colonies grading well in February. In these experiments Russian colonies housed in smaller hives holding 8 frames per box were bigger in February than colonies housed in larger hives holding 10 frames per box. Also, two different regiments of protein and sugar feeding both produced larger Russian colonies. In combination, using a smaller hive size and feeding colonies produced Russian colonies that averaged well about the size required for almond pollination.

Last Modified: 10/26/2014
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