The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) and Project Apis m. (PAm) have a long history of partnership. Since 2012 PAm has deeply supported the BIP Tech Transfer Teams (TTTs), who are the “boots on the ground” to survey honey bee health, and often acting as liaisons between research, and beekeepers. Their unique position not only allows them to share research developments and management practices with commercial beekeepers, but they also understand the most current beekeeping needs and trends and can help inform researchers about what is going on in the beekeeping industry that needs to be addressed.
Commercial beekeepers who work with the Tech Transfer Teams on average lose 30% fewer colonies each year than beekeepers who do not. That is significant! Quite a few participating beekeepers have also reported saving money by working with TTTs - some very major losses have been avoided, and many beekeepers report overall improved condition of their bees as well.
Hawaii is a chain of many islands, and of the seven inhabited by people and bees, only two have Varroa mites. I know, in beekeeper minds, that quickly conjures an image of paradise and perfectly healthy booming colonies with no Varroa! Having worked with bees on all those islands since 2010, I can report with confidence that the bees on these mite-free islands fall far short of this fantasy. Although there are no Varroa, these bees are a great example of how the many years of breeding and selection have provided us with the important traits beekeepers rely on, like gentle temperament, large populations and brood nests, reduced swarm tendencies, large honey stores and winter survival. Although they were abundant and successful in Hawaii’s conditions, the bees throughout the Hawaiian Islands were not, on average, large, gentle, productive colonies. They were mostly small, mean colonies of A. mellifera mellifera, brought by ship in 1850’s, and then naturalized in the jungle without beekeeper selection or improvement. The first time I met with a beekeeper as the Hawaii state apiarist, a bee met me over 50 yards from the undisturbed colony and immediately stung me in the face! This was a hobbyist, whose colonies were captured from the jungle. He likely didn’t know any different, but his bees had traits in stark contrast to the selected stocks I was used to throughout the USA and Canada. To be fair, they were also very different than the bees kept by Hawaii’s queen producers, which were painstakingly selected and improved by breeders such as Gus Rouse at Kona Queen. (See old ABJ article).
Dr. Kaira Wagoner is a post-doctoral fellow in the Social Insect Lab at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. In 2013, Kaira was one of the first PAm/Costco Scholarship award recipients. In alignment with PAm’s values, Kaira is dedicated to developing practical and sustainable solutions to honey bee health threats.
Kaira has been working towards a better understanding of the mechanisms behind hygienic behavior in honey bees. Hygienic behavior is a trait that all honey bee colonies possess to some degree. It involves the ability of nurse bees in a colony to sense a health problem in capped brood cells and remove the compromised brood, effectively slowing the spread of pathogens and parasites in the colony. This behavioral trait can be an advantage to the overall health and survival of the colony.
Cameron Jack Grew up watching his grandfather work 150 hives in southern Nevada. This was his gateway-bee experience. Learning and watching – being taught about honey bees. Today, Cameron is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Cameron received a one-year Costco/PAm fellowship award in 2016 to conduct research at the University of Florida where he is completing his graduate work. The subject of his research: Varroa. More specifically, his focus has been on breeding Varroa in vitro in the laboratory.
Project Apis m. and the National Honey Board Announce a Request for
Research Proposals to Support and Enhance Honey Bee Health.
Salt Lake City, Utah, October 4th, 2018 – Scientific research provides us with the foundation of knowledge we rely on in order to understand honey bee health threats and address them.
Project Apis m. and the National Honey Board are requesting research proposals to support and enhance honey bee health. Proposals will be accepted between October 4th, 2018 and November 10th, 2018. Please Click Here to view the full RFP or visit ProjectApism.org/rfps.
“Pollen metabarcoding is a way that we can enable larger questions to be answered, and larger scientific studies to be conducted more cost efficiently.” – Rodney Richardson, PhD Candidate, Ohio State University
"Pesticide risk assessment has not kept pace with new generations of crop protection products, but biologists, veterinarians, and farmers can all work together to understand the bigger picture... with pesticides, ultimately the dose makes the poison. If we can keep doses in a safe range, it’s ok for pesticides and beekeeping to co-exist. We just need to manage the dose.” - PhD Scholar Sarah Wood. Wood's research is helping to pave the way for better understanding and better practices.
Project Apis m.'s executive director Danielle Downey has been involved in groundbreaking research breeding and developing varroa resistant bees in Hawaii since 2010.
One of PAm's key partners in this project is beekeeper David Thomas, the owner of Hawaii Island Honey Company, who joined the effort in 2012, offering staff, resources, and even building a lab for the project! David's apiaries have been displaced by the Kilauea eruption and his business is being effected.
Follow the link here to read and see video about what's happening at the Hawaii Island Honey Company, and stay posted for the current status of breeding Varroa resistant bees in Hawaii.