2003 OBA Tech-Transfer Program Research Projects/Programs

2003 Overview

Alison Skinner, Janet Tam, Shannon Ross and Rachel Bannister

A. Breeding and Maintaining Parasitic Mite Resistant Honey Bee Stocks:

1. Maintenance of Tracheal Mite Resistant Honey Bee Stocks

Ten bee breeders participated in the tracheal mite resistance testing. One assay was completed in early September, evaluating a total of 68 colonies for the resistance trait. Bee breeders will be advised to use the top 25% of the resistant lines in their breeding programs.

2. Maintenance of the Hygienic Trait in the Ontario Bee Stocks

In August, nine bee breeders participated in hygienic testing of potential breeder colonies. 195 colonies were tested using the liquid nitrogen freeze kill method. Colonies ranking in Group 1 (>75% of killed brood cells removed) and Group 2 (50-75% of killed brood cells removed) can be used as breeders for varroa resistance. The most hygienic of the colonies were included in the 2003 tracheal mite resistance testing.

3. Incorporation of the Suppression of Mite Reproduction (SMR) Trait into the Ontario Bee Stocks

The Suppression of Mite Reproduction (SMR) trait is the third selection characteristic for parasitic mite resistance in honey bee stocks in Ontario. This trait has not yet been established in Ontario’s breeding program. In August and September, frames from potential breeder colonies were collected and frozen for later examination. Cells containing tan stage pupae with purple eyes will be uncapped until 30 cells containing mites are found or until 500 cells are opened, whichever comes first. Colonies which exhibit the trait will be included in the 2003 breeding program.

4. Survey of the Quality of Honey Bee Queens from Ontario Breeders

A diseased, injured or poorly mated queen is not readily accepted by a colony. Thirty-three queens and their attendants were evaluated for the presence of tracheal mites and nosema spores. The queens were also examined for physical damage, and then dissected and the number of sperm in the spermatheca were counted. Each of the seven participating breeders will be provided with his/her results. The results will ensure Ontario queen quality and will highlight problem areas that can be corrected. The survey will improve the marketability of Ontario queens in Canada and the US.

5. The Importation of Russian Honey Bee Eggs into Ontario

The tech-transfer program is working with the Russian honey bee breeder to establish a sustainable Russian breeding program in Ontario. The province is continuing the importation of Russian genetics. The Russian lines are maintained by the breeder in Ontario and further selected for economic and resistant characteristics. This is the first year that the Russian stock is available to beekeepers across Canada. In 2003, two new lines of Russian honey bees were released by USDA-APHIS. Russian honey bee eggs representing these lines were imported from Lisbon, New York, to a quarantine facility in Moose Creek, Ontario. The queens were mated with Russian drones in the isolated mating yard of the Russian bee breeder.

B. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program to Control Honey Bee Parasitic Mites:

1. Improving Formic Acid Efficacy

A trial was conducted during the honey flow to determine the efficacy of treating with Mite-Away II™ on single brood chamber colonies with a single honey super. The treatment method using a spacer board to hold the Mite-Away II™ pad between the brood chamber and honey super was evaluated. Samples from the honey supers of colonies in the trial were taken for residue analysis.

2. Improving Oxalic Acid Efficacy on Varroa Mites in the Fall

In November, oxalic acid will be applied to bee colonies with both single and double brood chambers. Efficacy and colony strength will be monitored. The practicality and efficacy of an oxalic acid evaporator will also be determined. These results will be used in the procedure of registering oxalic acid for use in honey bee colonies.

3. Fluvalinate Resistance Test

Trials were conducted in Wellington and Hastings counties to evaluate the level of fluvalinate resistant varroa mites were present in those locations. Different test methods based on the Pettis test were used to determine the most effective field monitoring technique. Changes in the size of treatment were made in preliminary work to develop a resistance test which would correlate with the efficacy of fluvalinate within the tested population of mites.

4. The Incorporation of Screened Bottom Boards as a Management Tool in the IPM Program

The effects of a screened bottom board on natural varroa mite levels and the efficacy of miticides such as CheckMite+™, Apistan® and Mite-Away II™ with screened bottom boards in place were investigated. Results will be used to determine if screened bottom boards enhance the efficacy of miticide treatments thus being a useful tool in an IPM program.

5. Organic Beekeeping Practices

This project is being completed in conjunction with Paul Kelly of the University of Guelph. Forty-five colonies have been established on an organic farm and are being managed organically. Different combinations of organic treatments and cultural techniques for varroa mite control are being evaluated. There is also a large emphasis on monitoring techniques used for varroa mites.