Project Apis m. recently called for proposals (RFP) for the Healthy Hives research initiative. Healthy Hives was created in 2015 to identify tangible solutions to improve honey bee colony health in the U.S. and find ways that commercial beekeeping operations can improve production and efficiency while reducing costs. Working with a combined $1.5 Million investment from Bayer, previously funded projects include a comprehensive assessment of pollen substitutes, the development of the Indoor Storage Guide and the Bee Integrated Demonstration project.
Recognizing that industry needs and challenges change, we often update the priorities in the call for projects. or this RFP Project Apis m. worked with Bayer to respond to beekeeper’s concerns and expanded the call to researchers to propose projects that:
These are in addition to the original objectives:
Many researchers answered the call, and we are excited to announce that the following projects were selected:
Understanding the virome, transcriptome, and host responses of Tropilaelaps mercedesae across Apis spp.
Dr. Olav Rueppell, University of Alberta
Not currently in the U.S., Tropilaelaps is a parasitic mite that is on beekeeper’s radar. An introduction of this pest into our bee population would be bad news for the industry. This research project will use modern molecular tools to increase our understanding of Tropilealaps by publishing a complete transcriptome, as well as the identifying viral threats to bees that it can vector through feeding on bee brood. This work may also help identify potential targets for fighting the mite by understanding more about it’s biology and relationship to diseases.
Do honey bees selected for Varroa Sensitive Hygiene resist pathogens?
Dr. Marla Spivak University of Minnesota, Dr. Mike Simone-Finstrom Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research: Baton Rouge, LA
In response to Varroa infestation, bees that exhibit Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) have been selected for and bred over the years resulting in colonies that are effective at removing Varroa-infested brood from the colony. This study will assess if VSH bees also remove diseased brood, and the potential for use of VSH bees for this purpose. Increasing the proportion of bees that are effective at both reducing varroa and disease loads would be a big benefit to beekeepers and demonstrating these qualities through research could encourage more beekeepers to adopt these lines of bees.
Utility of the UBO assay in rapidly predicting Varroa-resistant phenotypes and in designing crosses to stabilize and improve heritability.
Dr. Albert Roberston, Meadow Ridge Enterprises
Working with Varroa-Sensitive Hygienic (VSH) bees is one strategy for increasing resilience against Varroa. Unfortunately, those genetic traits that are carefully bred for can be rapidly lost in daughter colonies due to the dilution of the specific genes involved with the behavior. This project will use a new tool, the Unhealthy Brood Odor (UBO) assay, developed by Dr. Kaira Wagoner at UNC Greesnboro, to more quickly assess daughter colonies that retain VSH traits. Researchers will also investigate the mechanisms of how these bees fight the viruses associated with varroa. Information yielded from the research may help stabilize VSH traits in commercial bee breeding operations.
Determining impacts of pharmacologic proteasome inhibition, a potential anti-nosema therapeutic strategy, on the microbiome and immune function of the honey bee host.
Dr. Jonathan Snow, Barnard College
Dr. Snow is building on previous work and continuing to develop a new, more targeted, treatment for Nosema. Nosema (recently re-categorized and also referred to as Vairimorpha) This line of research targets the energy production mechanism of nosema drugs that inhibit the process. This next phase of the project will assess any impacts of this inhibitor to honey bees, and is one step closer towards the development of a more targeted drug to treat this disease. This will give beekeepers another tool outside of fumagillin, which is a non-target specific antifungal and the only option currently available to beekeepers.
The golden forage: Mustard cover crop as a floral resource and potential control for Vairimorpha (Nosema) infection in honey bees.
Dr. Chia-Hua Lin, The Ohio State University
Increasingly, it seems scientists are looking more closely at natural solutions to bee diseases, including for Vairimorpha/Nosema infections. This project will assess pollen from cover crops in the mustard family as a means of reducing infection. These cover crops are easy to grow and are already increasingly used in almond orchards to support honey bees because they also provide a ready source of nutritious pollen and nectar. Demonstrating multi-purpose value of forage and nutrition could inspire further adoption of cover cropping practices in addition to giving beekeepers an additional tool to mitigate infections.
We invite you to check out our searchable database to see how these projects, and all PAm funded projects, are developing. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social media so that you don’t miss our webinars, articles, and other events presenting research results for beekeepers.