2017 OBA Tech-Transfer Program Research Projects/Programs

2017 Research and Activities

The OBA-Tech Transfer Program has had another very active year attending and presenting at more than 35 meetings and running 7 projects. The support from the OBA, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and its Apiary program, led by Provincial Apiarist Paul Kozak, are highly valued relationships and greatly appreciated to allow the OBA TTP to exist. Special acknowledgement needs to be giving to Ontario’s Local Beekeepers Associations for their ongoing support and involvement to provide resources and venues for TTP to deliver knowledge transfer to Ontario beekeepers.  
TTP 2017:
Les Eccles – Contract Lead Specialist
Pat Westlake – Contract OBA TTP Administrator
Melanie Kempers – Contract Technical Specialist
Daniel Thurston – Contract Technical Specialist
Daniel Borges – Contract Technical Specialist
Kelsey Ducsharm – ECO Internship/Technical Specialist
Jade Muileboom - Summer Student
PROJECT TITLE: Ontario Resistant Honey Bee Selections (ORHBS) Program
The Ontario Resistant Honey Bee Selections (ORHBS) program is a long term program with the objective to incorporate and maintain mite resistant characteristics in Ontario’s honey bee stock; 2016 was the 20th year of testing for hygienic behaviour and monitoring for varroa, tracheal mite and nosema resistance.
Bee breeders in Ontario selected colonies with favourable characteristics to be tested for tracheal mite resistance and hygienic behaviour. The tracheal mite resistance test (Tracheal Mite Quick Test) has not been performed since 2006 due lack of tracheal mite infested colonies to perform the tests on Ontario breeder colonies. In order to ensure tracheal mite resistance persists, all breeders are thoroughly monitored to ensure no colonies with tracheal mites exist in a breeding program; no positive tracheal mite colonies have been found in the ORHBS program since the last tracheal mite quick test in 2006.
Hygienic behaviour is important for mite and disease resistance within a colony. The liquid nitrogen freeze kill method was used to test for hygienic behaviour. Colonies which ranked in Group 1 (>95% of killed brood removed) and Group 2 (75-95% of killed brood removed) were recommended for use as breeders for the subsequent generation. Testing for hygienic behaviour was conducted on 320 potential breeder colonies for 17 bee breeders in 2017.
PROJECT TITLE: Health Status of Colonies Tested in the Breeding Program
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. 
Samples from 320 potential breeder colonies from 17 bee breeders have will be analysed for nosema, tracheal mite and varroa testing.
PROJECT TITLE: Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers
17 Tech-Transfer Program Workshops were delivered in 2017.
1.  Introductory Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)
Seven “Introductory Beekeeping” workshops were held in Milton, Port Hope, Alvinston, Innisfil, Simcoe, Metcalfe, and Niagara College in 2017.
2.  IPM and Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)
Six “Beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” workshops were conducted in Port Hope, Milton, Alvinston, Metcalfe, Niagara College and Thunder Bay in 2017.
3.  Introductory Queen Rearing Workshop (TTP) 
One “Introductory Queen Rearing” workshop was delivered in Innisfil in 2017
4.  Advanced Integrated Pest Management (TTP)
Two “Advanced IPM” workshops were delivered in Alliston, and Niagara in 2017
5.  Varroa Mite Monitoring Workshops
One “Varroa Mite Monitoring” workshop at OBA/Upper Toronto Beekeepers’ Association Summer Meeting   
All workshops consisted of classroom presentations accompanied by hands-on sessions in the beeyard or classroom, with approx. 400 participants in total.  
Honey bees are a crucial part of Canadian agriculture, contributing at least $4.6 billion/y: they produce between eighty and ninety thousand tonnes of honey each year and their pollination activities directly support the production of many fruits, nuts and vegetable crops. But the health of honey bees has been declining over the past decade, with Canadian beekeepers losing more than a quarter of their colonies each winter since 2006-07. We often replace these colonies by purchasing bees and queens from offshore but we cannot rely on these sources because of the risk of importing new diseases or invasive strains of honey bees (such as the Africanized ‘killer’ bee). The high colony losses, coupled with the possible loss of access to replacement sources, pose a serious threat to the productivity of major Canadian agri-food industries and jeopardize our food security. Left unchecked, the production and accessibility of fruits, nuts and vegetables will decline. Our team of researchers will improve the health of Canadian honey bees by developing new genomic and proteomic tools that will enable beekeepers to rapidly and cost-effectively breed healthy, disease-resistant, productive bee colonies that are better able to survive our harsh Canadian winters. The availability of high-quality, locally bred honey bees should reduce Canada’s dependence on imported queens. In parallel, we will increase the safety of bee importations by developing an accurate and cost effective assay to detect bees with Africanized genetics. Our research team will work with a large number of beekeepers, industry technology-transfer teams, diagnostic labs and government regulators to ensure that our ‘omic tools are implemented and accessible to the beekeeping industry by the end of the project. Our innovative efforts will help guard the safety and sustainability of the beekeeping industry, ensuring our food security and supporting more than $4 billion in value to the Canadian economy.
Our project is funded in part through Large-Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) from Genome Canada. Other funding partners include Genome British Colombia, Genome Alberta, Genome Quebec, the University of British Columbia, York University, the BC Ministry of Agriculture, and the BC Honey Producers Association.
START DATE: December 2014
END DATE: December 2018
FUNDING SOURCE: Genome Canada, Partnerships Agreement with York University
Project Title: Efficacy and effects on bee health and behaviour of prebiotics and probiotics for the control of the emergent parasitic fungus Nosema ceranae
Honey bee populations have been declining at an unprecedented rate. In the winter of 2013-2014, for example, more than 50% colony loss was reported in Ontario. Contributing to these alarming losses is Nosema ceranae, an emerging fungal pathogen of honey bees. Our group demonstrated that levels of N. ceranae in colonies in Ontario can exceed more than three times those of N. apis, which until recently was the cause of nosemosis in Ontario. We particularly found high N. ceranae infection levels in colonies used for pollination services compared to fixed apiaries. N. ceranae seems to have displaced N. apis in Ontario, likely, as shown by several studies, because it is more virulent and harmful to colonies than N. apis. Thus, it is critical to control this parasite. However, chemical control of N. ceranae is limited to a single antibiotic, fumagillin, which poses risks of pathogen resistance and honey contamination. Safer, alternative treatments are greatly needed. Using a large number of field colonies, we propose to test certain prebiotics and probiotics that our preliminary work has shown to be effective at reducing N. ceranae infections. We will also assess the value of these natural compounds in enhancing overall honey bee health.
START DATE: December 2016
END DATE: December 2019
FUNDING SOURCE: OMAFRA Emergency Management
PROJECT TITLE: Implementation of “Bee Yard Manager” Traceability and Labour Productivity Software
A mobile software application will be developed which will allow beekeepers to record their management of individual hives, pallets, or yards; track symptoms and treatments of pest and disease issues within their apiaries; access an online beekeeping manual while in the field; and communicate directly with TTP technicians regarding any concerns. The App will be promoted at industry meetings and in industry publications to educate beekeepers as to its capabilities and value.
Activity #1 – Traceability and Labour Productivity Software 
1) Pilot “Bee Yard Manager” beekeeping management software
The Pilot will be implemented in 5 stages:
1) Presentation of Bee Yard Manager program at OBA and local beekeepers Association meetings.
2) Adoption of Bee Yard Manager program by trial based users. 
3) Receive feedback on Bee Yard Manager program from trial based users
4) Update Bee Yard Manager program to address feedback received from trial based users
5) Completed Bee Yard Manager program ready for distribution to beekeepers on a subscription basis
2) Develop “Bee Yard Manager” App from currently web based format
An effective technological management tool does not exist to assist beekeepers in the tracking of colony management.  The Bee Yard Manager software provides an essential tool that is missing for the Ontario beekeeping industry, and can be adopted by a wide range of beekeeping management systems. This will allow for the tracking of colony management and health conditions. Issues facing honey bee health and the tools available to manage and implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program have grown to an overwhelming amount of material. This software will allow beekeepers to identify symptoms of pests and diseases while in the field and immediately access information on appropriate treatments, thereby reducing colony mortality rates. The software will also track proper timing of treatment applications to ensure efficacy. Tracking treatment schedules also improves food safety by eliminating the contamination of hive products such as honey and beeswax with antibiotics or other pesticides. Bee Yard Manager will be an important tool for beekeepers to advance their on farm biosecurity.
START DATE: December 2014
END DATE: December 2017 (Complete)
FUNDING SOURCE: Growing Forward 2
PROJECT TITLE: Advanced Integrated Pest Management, Queen Breeding and Expansion of Pollination Services Workshops
Increased information on issues facing honey bee health and the tools available to manage and implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program have grown to an overwhelming amount of material to be covered in the existing resources available for beekeepers to receive practical training.  Although there are workshops and training available to beginning beekeepers, an advanced level of training for beekeepers does not exist to take advantage of the information and tools available to them.  Training specific for beekeepers intending to provide pollination is not available, which has limited the expansion of colony numbers and beekeepers capable to managing them in order to supply the demanded for pollination services by the horticulture sector.
Activity #1 –  Advanced Integrated Pest Management Workshop, Manual and instructional DVD
The advanced IPM course will cover more in-depth monitoring and quantification of pest and disease diagnosis.  One cost associated with this objective is the purchase of microscopes for the sole use for training beekeepers in workshops on advanced diagnosis and quantification of honey bee pest and diseases.  The workshops will also provide extensive concepts on understanding pest and disease development in colonies over a long period of time and in relation to external influences such as seasonal climate variations.
Activity #2 – Honey Bee Breeding and Formal Breeding Program Workshop, Manual and instructional DVD
The workshop on Bee Breeding and Formal Breeding Program will provide training and extension material to existing and new honey bee breeders to ensure consistency and compatibility in breeding programs using information developed from the recent CAAP 0157 project.
Activity #3 – Commercial Pollination Workshop, Manual and DVD
Workshops will provide instruction and extension material to new and practicing pollination beekeepers.  This will integrate information and recommendations developed from the recent CAAP 0157, CAAP 0238 and AMI 079 projects.
The funds provided for this project will be used to develop materials and workshops using results from developed research, information, resources, and the technical expertise from the OBA TTP and beekeeping industry.
Innovative courses for beekeepers are needed to provide training and information that has been developed over the last decade to address honey bee health, honey bee breeding and pollination services.  Currently available workshops only cover the basic concepts of Integrated Pest Management and raising honey bee livestock, a currently there are no courses offered to train beekeepers to provide pollination services.  Through recent projects funded by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program, significant advancements have been made in order to improve IPM programs, bee breeding and best management practices for pollination services.  The funding for this proposed project will provide the resource necessary to develop workshops, manuals and DVDs to train and sustain the information gathered from the outcomes of these projects.  It will also provide a vehicle for future advancements in IPM, Bee Breeding and Pollination to be transferred to the beekeeping industry.
START DATE: December 2014
END DATE: December 2017 (Complete)
FUNDING SOURCE: Growing Forward 2