Janet Tam, Melanie Kempers & Alex Maranduik
Funding sources are provided in brackets
TTP = OBA Tech-Transfer Program;
FIP = Farm Innovation Program;
A. Breeding and Maintaining Parasitic Mite Resistant Honey Bee Stocks:
1. Maintenance of the Hygienic Trait in Ontario Bee Stocks (TTP)
Hygienic behaviour is important for mite and disease resistance within a colony. Colonies which ranked in Group 1 (>80% of killed brood cells removed) and Group 2 (60-80% of killed brood cells removed) were recommended for use as breeders for the subsequent generation. In May, the liquid nitrogen freeze kill method was used to test hygienic behaviour on 31 potential breeder colonies for three bee breeders. In July, August and September, 358 colonies were tested for 12 breeders. A total of 389 colonies were tested for 13 breeders in 2010.
2. Health Status of Colonies Tested in the Breeding Program (TTP)
Honey bee samples were collected from potential breeder colonies. At the time of hygienic behaviour testing, forager bees were collected. Bees were also collected from the brood chamber before treatments were applied in the fall. 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.
3. Survey of the Quality of Honey Bee Queens from Ontario Breeders (TTP)
Mated queens were received from participating bee breeders. The queens and their attendants were evaluated for the presence of varroa mites, tracheal mites and nosema spore levels. The queens were also examined for physical damage and the mating success of the queens was assessed through an estimation of the number of sperm in the spermatheca. In July, August and September, 29 queens from six breeders were submitted.
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, tracheal mites and/or nosema disease. In the spring, 48 samples from 16 bee yards were analyzed for one beekeeper. In the fall, 166 samples from 22 bee yards were collected and analyzed for three beekeepers.
2. Organic Beekeeping Practices (TTP)
The 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 2010 season, 24 hr 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. Mite-Away Quick Strip (MAQS™) Summer Efficacy Trial (FIP)
A new formic acid-based treatment for varroa mites, the Mite-Away Quick Strip (MAQS™), is being developed for use in Ontario conditions. This treatment can be used during honey collection. In July, 30 mite-infested bee colonies in two bee yards near Guelph, ON were treated (n=15) with MAQS™ or no treatment (control). Two shallow honey supers were present on each colony during the trial. Colonies with single and double brood chambers were distributed evenly between treatment groups. Traps to collect dead bees were installed in one yard, on 7 colonies from each treatment group. Varroa mite levels were monitored using alcohol wash samples and 24 hr sticky boards before treatment and on days 7 and 21 after treatment. Daily sticky boards were used to monitor mite drop during the first week of treatment. Before treatment and on days 3, 7 and 28, the colonies were examined for all stages of brood and for queen presence. On day 3 of treatment, brood from colonies in one yard was uncapped and examined for mite mortality. Survival of adult and immature mites was recorded.
4. Resistance Testing (TTP)
The Pettis test was used to determine the presence of varroa mites resistant to conventional miticides such as Apivar® (amitraz), Apistan® (fluvalinate) and CheckMite+™ (coumaphos). In August, resistance testing was conducted in two bee yards in South Wellington County. In September, resistance testing was conducted in two bee yards in North Wellington County and in one bee yard in each of Haldimand County, Halton Region and Hamilton Region. In October, testing was conducted in one bee yard in Niagara Region and one bee yard which was moved from Bruce County. Fluvalinate efficacy ranged from 87% to 100% (except for in Bruce County where it ranged from 71% to 98%), coumaphos efficacy ranged from 21% to 50% (except for in Bruce County where it ranged from 45% to 71%) and amitraz efficacy ranged from 82% to 99%.
5. Re-sealable Bag Feeding Fall Trial (FIP)
It is known that Fumigilin-B is an effective treatment to prevent Nosema infections. Common methods used to feed treated sugar syrup to honey bee colonies were compared to the use of two sizes of re-sealable plastic bags. At the end of September, 30 colonies near Alma, ON, were fed using the following methods (n=5): hivetop pail feeders, wooden hivetop feeders, “Great Value” 2 L re-sealable bags, “Glad” 2 L re-sealable plastic bags, “President’s Choice” 4 L re-sealable plastic bags or “Ziploc” 4 L re-sealable plastic bags. Colonies were distributed between the treatments depending on brood chamber size and number of frames of stored honey. Colonies were checked daily for one week and observations were recorded. This trial focused on feed consumption rates, possible errors in the delivery method, plastic bag quality over time, the space in the hive needed to accommodate the bag, how easy it was to re-fill the bags and other factors affecting consumption rates, compared to traditional feeding methods.
6. Thymovar Fall Efficacy Trial (TTP)
Thymovar, a thymol-based treatment to control varroa mites, is undergoing registration for use in Canada. A preliminary trial was conducted to examine the use and efficacy of Thymovar. Twelve colonies near Guelph ON, were divided into three treatment groups (n=4) by varroa mite levels and brood chamber size. The colonies were treated with Thymovar, Mite-AwayII (formic acid) or no treatment (control) in late September. After three weeks, the treatments were removed and oxalic acid was applied using the trickle method as a finisher treatment. Varroa mite drop was monitored using 48 hr sticky boards for the first week, then weekly sticky boards for two more weeks. Weekly sticky boards were used to monitor mite drop during the two weeks of finisher treatment.
7. Mite-Away Quick Strip (MAQS™) Fall Efficacy Trial (FIP)
Thirty varroa mite-infested bee colonies in two bee yards near Carlisle, ON were treated (n=10) with MAQS™, Mite-AwayII™ or no treatment (control) at the end of September. After three weeks, all treatments were removed and Apistan® was used as a finisher treatment for two weeks. Varroa mite levels were monitored before treatment using alcohol wash samples and 24 hr sticky boards. The colonies were examined for queen presence and all stages of brood before treatment and on days 7 and 21 of treatment. Mite drop was monitored using 24 hr sticky boards for the first week, then weekly sticky boards for two more weeks. Weekly sticky boards were used to monitor mite drop during the finisher treatment.
8. Thymol Efficacy Trial (Medivet Pharmaceuticals Ltd.)
A thymol treatment developed at the University of Guelph was evaluated in the field for efficacy against varroa mites. In early October, 40 single brood chamber colonies in two yards near Guelph, ON, were treated (n=10) with 4 x 30 g doses of the treatment, 2 x 60 g doses of the treatment, 4 x 30 g doses of powdered sugar or Api Life VAR® according to the label. After four weeks, all treatments were removed and Apistan® was used as a finisher treatment for two weeks. Pre-treatment mite levels were determined using the alcohol wash method. Mite drop during the treatment period and finisher treatment period was monitored using sticky boards.
C. Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers:
1. Introductory Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)
“Introductory Beekeeping” workshops were held in Guelph (May), Frankford (June), Lakefield (June), Midland (June) and Embrun (June). A total of 118 people attended these five workshops in 2010.
2. IPM and Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)
“Beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” workshops were conducted in Guelph (May), Lakefield (June) and Embrun (June). A total of 67 people attended these three workshops in 2010.
3. Introductory Queen Rearing Workshop (TTP)
"Introductory Queen Rearing” workshops were conducted in Guelph (May), Sudbury (June) and Casselman (June). A total of 67 people attended these three workshops in 2010.