2009 OBA Tech-Transfer Program Research Projects/Programs

2009 Overview

Alison Van Alten, Janet Tam, Melanie Kempers & Sarah Ayton

Funding sources are provided in brackets

(TTP = OBA Tech-Transfer Program)

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

1. Maintenance of the Hygienic Trait in Ontario Bee Stocks (TTP)

Hygienic behavior is important for mite and disease resistance within a colony. Colonies which ranked in Group 1 (>75% of killed brood cells removed) and Group 2 (50-75% of killed brood cells removed) were recommended for use as breeders for the subsequent generation. During the months of August and September, the liquid nitrogen freeze kill method was used to test hygienic behavior on 294 potential breeder colonies for 12 bee breeders.

2. Health Status of Colonies Tested in the Breeding Program (TTP)

Bee breeders collected honey bee samples from potential breeder colonies. Varroa and tracheal mite infestation levels were determined and nosema spore levels analyzed as an indication of the health of the colonies. Monitoring the health of breeder colonies will ensure the quality of the bee stock produced in Ontario. As of mid-November, samples from 301 potential breeder colonies from 12 bee breeders have been submitted for nosema testing and 120 samples have been submitted from 4 bee breeders for tracheal mite and varroa mite testing. Additional sample delivery is expected in December.

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

1. Honey Bee Mite Scouting (TTP)

Mite scouting is a pay per service program whereby adult bees are sampled from colonies, disease levels are determined and results are reported back to the beekeeper. Samples of adult bees were collected in ethanol and analyzed for varroa mites and nosema disease. In the spring, 138 samples from 17 bee yards were collected and analyzed for two beekeepers. In the fall, 339 samples from 35 bee yards were collected and analyzed for four beekeepers.

2. Organic Beekeeping Practices (TTP)

he OBA Tech-Transfer Program and the University of Guelph established an organic beekeeping practices project in 2003. A combination of soft chemical treatments, cultural management techniques and effective monitoring techniques are used to maintain a bee yard organically. No synthetic chemicals or antibiotics are used. In the 2009 season, 24 hour sticky boards and frequent visual examinations were used to monitor for mites and diseases. Drone brood removal was conducted on a monthly basis. Organic acids were used to control varroa and tracheal mites.

3. Resistance Testing (TTP)

The Pettis test was used to determine the presence of varroa mites resistant to conventional miticides such as Apistan® (fluvalinate) and CheckMite+™ (coumaphos). In July, resistance testing was conducted in 3 bee yards in Hastings county. Fluvalinate efficacy ranged from 90% to 97%, while coumaphos efficacy ranged from 33% to 94%. In September, resistance testing was conducted in 3 bee yards in Wellington county. Fluvalinate efficacy ranged from 80% to 93%, while coumaphos efficacy ranged from 21% to 54%.

4. Thymol Efficacy Trial (Medivet Pharmaceuticals)

A thymol treatment developed at the University of Guelph was evaluated in the field for efficacy against varroa mites. Forty mite-infested bee colonies (2 near Guelph and 1 near Rockwood, ON) were treated (n=10) with 4x30g doses of the treatment, 2x60g doses of the treatment, 4x30g doses of powdered sugar or Api-Life VAR® according to the label. Mite drop was monitored using sticky boards. After 4 weeks, all treatments were removed and Apistan® was used to drop any remaining varroa mites for 2 weeks.

5. Mite-Away Quick Strip (MAQS) Fall Efficacy Trial (NOD Apiary Products)

A new formic acid-based treatment for varroa mites, the Mite-Away Quick Strip (MAQS), is being developed for use in Ontario conditions. 36 mite-infested bee colonies in 3 bee yards near Stirling, ON were treated (n=12) with a single dose of the product, a double dose of the product or Apistan®. Varroa mite levels were monitored using alcohol wash samples. Before treatment and on days 3, 7 and 14 of treatment, samples were taken and the colonies were examined for all stages of brood. On day 3 of treatment, brood from colonies in one yard was uncapped and examined for mite mortaliy. Survival of adult and immature mites was recorded. The MAQS shows promise at controlling phoretic varroa mites as well as mites which are reproducing under the cappings.

C. Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers:

1. Spring Beekeeper Survey (TTP)

120 beekeepers completed a written or online survey regarding colony numbers, overwintering survival, treatments and beekeeping practicesin Ontario. Results were compiled, presented to the beekeepers and used for statistical purposes.

2. Introductory Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)

“Introductory Beekeeping” workshops were held in Guelph (May), Frankford (June), Lakefield (2 in June) and Ridgetown (June). A total of 121 people attended these 5 workshops in 2009.

3. IPM and Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)

“Beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” workshops were conducted in Guelph (May), on Manitoulin Island (June) and in Charlottetown, PEI (June). A total of 62 people attended these 3 workshops in 2009.

4. Introductory Queen Rearing Workshop (TTP)

An “Introductory Queen Rearing” workshop was conducted in Guelph (May). 20 people attended this workshop. All three workshops consisted of classroom presentations accompanied by hands-on sessions in the bee yard.

D. Promotion of Ontario Hive Products

1. Nutritional Value of Ontario Honey

Eighty-three samples of honey from across the province were collected and combined to produce a batch of mixed Ontario honey, which was sent to a lab for nutritional analysis. Three samples representing unique geographical areas were submitted separately. The results will be used to promote honey produced in Ontario.