Vol. 16 No. 1 March 2005
Editor: Jennifer Berry, Agricultural Research Coordinator
The 2005 YHC / UGA Beekeeping Institute
will be held May 19-21 at
Special guest instructors include
Dr. Eric Mussen, extension apiculturist at the
UGA PhD Student, Amanda
Ellis, To Study Effects of Parasitism on Honey Bee Pollination Efficacy
Amanda's research will attempt to quantify the secondary effects of parasites on pollination efficacy and foraging energetics of honey bees. Varroa mites and small hive beetles will serve as the model parasites, and canola and blueberry as the study plants.
Both varroa mites and small hive beetles have been identified as major honey bee pests within the past 20 years. Varroa mites have been found to decrease honey yield (De Jong et al. 1982) and reduce the number of pollen foragers (Janmaat et al. 2000). Concerning individual bees, varroa mites promote weight loss, shortened life span, reduced size of mandibular glands, reduced flight activity, reduced insecticide tolerance, and smaller sperm loads in drones (Schmid-Hempel 1998). Adult small hive beetles also have been found to negatively affect honey bee colonies by lowering bee populations, brood area, and average flight activity (Ellis et al. 2003).
In these studies, Amanda will determine if direct effects of both parasites on honey bees limit the bees' efficacy as pollinators. Both blueberry and canola require insect pollination (Delaplane and Mayer 2000, Westcott and Nelson 2001). For blueberry, the rabbiteye variety "Climax" that is self-sterile and requires cross-pollination will be used (Delaplane and Mayer 2000). Canola is 70% self-pollinated but many researchers have concluded that insect pollination provides higher seed set and yield, higher numbers of seeds per pod and higher numbers of pods, earlier pod formation, and faster and more uniform seed maturation (Westcott and Nelson 2001). Hence, the two target crops differ in their degree of dependence on insect pollination, thus allowing one to make more general conclusions on parasite/host-pollinator/plant fitness dynamics.
The effects of parasites on honey
bee foraging energetics will also be considered. For example, the
equations involved in calculating net energy gain take into account
bee mass and nectar ingestion rate, both of which could be affected
by parasites. It already has been demonstrated that varroa mites
can reduce bee weight, which could, in turn, affect the bee's net
This year's Georgia Beekeepers Association
spring meeting was held in
Management Calendar: March
- May in
Colonies are quickly building up for the upcoming nectar flow. It's an exciting time of year, however, it is also a critical time for your bees. Brood is being reared and stores of honey and pollen being consumed rapidly. It is imperative that you check your colonies this month for honey and pollen supplies. If colonies are in need of food, feed a 1 : 1 sugar syrup solution. This is important and should not be delayed. Here at the UGA honey bee lab we receive numerous calls this time of year about colonies that have died. Upon inspection, it is often simple starvation.
Medications for disease prevention along with varroa and tracheal mite treatments should be completed. If you haven't already treated, now would be the time. However, varroa mite treatments may be unnecessary if your colony mite level is below the economic threshold of 60-190 mites in a 24-hour sticky sheet test. Sticky sheet insertion for twenty-four hours without chemical treatments is an effective way to determine mite levels within your colony. Also, I have heard disturbing reports about colony losses up to 50% in some locations. Samples from these colonies tested positive for tracheal mites. Don't forget to treat with grease patties! These mites pose a serious threat to your colonies. Treatments are chemical free and can be left in the hive even during a nectar flow. Don't delay! Get those patties in today!
On warm days, check your colony for poorly performing queens. Little to no brood or a patchy pattern is a sign of a bad queen. Re-queen her as soon as queens become available. The longer you wait to re-queen the weaker the colony will become.
Swarm season is rapidly approaching. Swarm prevention is easy in theory but difficult in practice. The colonies' urge to swarm is intense this time of year. Besides foraging for nectar, swarming is top on their list for activities during the spring months. However, one of the primary goals of any beekeeper is to keep this from happening. If a colony swarms, the beekeeper loses precious bees within minutes. Cutting out queen cells, re-queening, and equalizing colonies are good ways to reduce swarming.
Hopefully this year, we will have
a record breaking spring and summer nectar flow, so get those colonies
healthy and strong and ready for production.
If you are thinking about employing your colonies for almond pollination or other crop pollination services make sure you do your homework and understand what you and your bees are getting into. Also, have a written contract with the grower. This will help prevent any misunderstandings in the future. This year's Young Harris Bee Institute will include lectures for beekeepers considering running their bees for almond and other commercial crops.
The US Environmental Protection Agency
1. The unregistered product, Api-Life VAR containing 74.08% thymol, 16.0% eucalyptus oil, and 3.7% L-menthol (currently there is no EPA Registration number), manufactured by Chemicals LAIF, Italy, may be used. Except as stipulated in this authorization, applicable directions, restrictions, and precautions on the proposed product label submitted by the state must be followed.
2. A maximum of 300,000 Api-Life VAR tablets may be used.
3. Applications can be made in any season (spring, summer, fall, winter) in which all applicable restrictions, precautions and directions for use can be followed. Do not use when surplus honey supers are in place. Use when average daily temperatures are between 59o F and 69o F. Do not use Api-Life VAR at temperatures above 90o F.
4. Two treatments per year may be made. A treatment (3 tablets) consists of the following: Take one tablet and break into four equal pieces. Place pieces on the top corners of the hive body. Avoid placing pieces directly above the brood nest. After 7-10 days, replace with a fresh tablet broken into pieces as above. Repeat procedure again, 7-10 days later and leave last tablet for 12 days. After 12 days, remove residuals from the colony. To prevent the bees from gnawing the tablet either enclose each piece of tablet in an envelope of screen wire (8 mesh/inch) or place the uncovered pieces above a sheet of metal screen that prevents bees from contacting it.
5. Remove Api-Life VAR tablets from hive at least 1 month (30 days) prior to harvesting the honey.
6. Do not use during honey flows.
7. Do not harvest honey from brood chambers or colony feed supers.
8. An exemption from the requirement of tolerance is in place for residues of menthol in honey and beeswax (40 CFR §180.1092).
9. The EPA Headquarters and Regional office shall be immediately informed of any adverse effects or misuse resulting from the use of this pesticide in connection with this exemption.
10. The use of Api-Life VAR in bee hives to control varroa mites is not expected to have any adverse effects on the environment since it is considered an indoor use.
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