2005 OBA Tech-Transfer Program Research Projects/Programs

2005 Overview

Alison Skinner, Janet Tam 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 76 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 Ontario Bee Stocks

In August and September, 12 bee breeders participated in hygienic testing of potential breeder colonies. 294 colonies were tested using the liquid nitrogen freeze kill method. Colonies which ranked 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. Hygienic colonies were included in the 2005 tracheal mite resistance testing.

3. 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 imported Russian stock is maintained by the breeder and further selected for economic and mite resistance characteristics. Two new strains of Russian honey bees were released by USDA-APHIS in 2005. Russian honey bee eggs representing this stock were imported from Lisbon, New York, to a quarantine facility in Moose Creek, Ontario, where they were reared into queens. The queens were mated with Russian drones in an isolated mating yard.

4. Health Status of Colonies Tested in the Breeding Program

Bee samples were taken from 120 potential breeder colonies from eight bee breeders and stored in alcohol. Varroa and tracheal mite infestation levels and the presence of nosema spores will be determined. The results of this survey will indicate the health of the colonies and will highlight problem areas that can be corrected. Monitoring the health of breeder colonies will ensure the quality of queens produced in Ontario.

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

1. Determining the Colony Effects of a Spring Treatment of Mite-AwayII™, Oxalic Acid and Sucrocide™

In the spring, 25 colonies were divided into five treatment groups (n=5): Mite-AwayII™ (formic acid), Sucrocide™, a single oxalic acid application, a double oxalic acid application (two weeks apart) and no treatment (control). All colonies were evaluated to determine the numbers of frames of bees, brood and honey. The frame-by-frame examination of each colony was conducted before treatment, three weeks after treatment, six weeks after treatment and 13 weeks after treatment. Results will compare treatment effects on brood and honey production.

2. Summer Treatment Comparison

Oxalic acid and Sucrocide™ were compared as summer “knock-down” treatments in varroa mite infested colonies in July. Fifteen colonies were divided into three treatment groups (n=5): oxalic acid, a single dose of Sucrocide™ and no treatment (control). Mite levels were monitored using alcohol wash samples before treatment and four weeks after treatment.

3. Fall Treatment Comparison

Mite-AwayII™, oxalic acid, Sucrocide™ and no treatment (control) (n=10) were applied to 40 colonies in early October. Three weeks after treatment, CheckMite+™ was applied as a finisher treatment for an additional three weeks. The efficacy of each treatment was monitored using the alcohol wash method before treatment, three weeks after treatment and three weeks after the finisher treatment.

4. Late Fall Treatment Comparison

Apistan® (fluvalinate), Bayvarol® (flumethrin) and oxalic acid (n=11) were applied in the late fall. Three weeks after treatment, CheckMite+™ was applied as a finisher treatment for an additional three weeks. The efficacy of each treatment was monitored using the alcohol wash method before treatment, three weeks after treatment and three weeks after the finisher treatment.

5. Organic Fall Treatments

A combination of organic fall treatments were compared to determine efficacy on varroa mites. Thirty-six colonies were divided into three treatment groups (n=12): October Mite-AwayII™ (formic acid) and November oxalic acid; October Sucrocide™ and November oxalic acid; October oxalic acid followed by oxalic acid again in November. Mite fall was monitored for three weeks following treatment in October using sticky boards. The late fall mite drop was monitored for an additional three weeks.

6. Fall Testing for Miticide Resistant Varroa Mites

The glass vial assay was used to evaluate varroa mite populations for fluvalinate resistance. The LC90 of fluvalinate was determined for varroa mites in bee colonies which had not been treated with Apistan® for two years. Trials to monitor for resistance were conducted in Niagara Region and Wellington County. Fluvalinate resistance was present in both areas. Pettis testing was conducted in Wellington County, using Apistan® (fluvalinate), Bayvarol® (flumethrin) and no treatment (control). Bayvarol® was more effective than Apistan®.

7. Organic Beekeeping Practices

This project was completed in conjunction with Paul Kelly and Dr. Ernesto Guzman of the University of Guelph. Forty-five colonies were established on an organic farm and were managed organically. Combinations of organic treatments (Mite-AwayII™ and oxalic acid) and cultural techniques for varroa mite control were evaluated. These included the removal of drone brood, interruption of brood rearing and the use of a screen bottom board. Honey production from each of the treatment groups was recorded. Knowledge of colony mite levels is essential to manage a colony without the use of conventional chemicals. Colonies were monitored using a 24 hour sticky board, ether roll, sugar dust, alcohol wash and uncapping drone brood. The data collected will be used to determine the relationship between each of the monitoring techniques and to determine similarities between colony samples taken from the brood chamber and the honey super.

8. Honey Bee Mite Scouting

This is a pilot project to determine the effectiveness and practicality of a mite scouting service for beekeepers. In the spring, late summer, early fall and late fall, apiaries belonging to two hobby and five commercial beekeepers were scouted to determine the levels of varroa mites, tracheal mites and the presence of bee diseases. Samples were analyzed from 581 colonies. Results were provided for each beekeeper. A survey was completed by participating beekeepers for evaluation of the scouting service.

9. Sulfa Residue Trial

Two single brood chamber colonies were each fed one gallon of sulfa treated sugar syrup in the fall. Honey produced by these two colonies in 2006 will be analyzed for residues.

C. Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers:

1. Beekeeping Manuals

A new Ontario Beekeeping Manual and a new Honey Bee Queen Rearing Manual are currently under compilation with the cooperation of contributors. The manuals will be completed in February 2006.

2. Workshops

Two “Introductory Beekeeping with an Emphasis on IPM” workshops were held in Guelph (May) and in Sudbury (August). Another workshop, “Introductory Queen Rearing” was conducted in Guelph (May). The workshops consisted of classroom presentations accompanied by outdoor hands-on sessions. Workshop enrollment was at maximum capacity for all three dates.