2012 OBA Tech-Transfer Program Research Projects/Programs

2012 Research and Activities

Les Eccles, Melanie Kempers, Devan Rawn & Brian Lacey

Funding sources are provided in brackets

TTP = OBA Tech-Transfer Program

CAAP = Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program

OMAFRA = special funding from OMAFRA

KTT = OMAFRA/U of G Knowledge, Translation and Transfer Program

AMI = Agricultural Management Institute

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. A total of 238 colonies were tested for 11 breeders in 2012.

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. As of late November, samples from 238 potential breeder colonies from eleven bee breeders have been submitted for nosema and tracheal mite testing and 40 samples have been submitted from two bee breeders for varroa mite testing. Additional sample delivery is expected.

3. Survey of the Quality of Honey Bee Queens from Ontario Breeders (CAAP)

Testing for different viruses will be used to determine if selections can be made in this way to develop a degree of natural bee resistance to viruses. Samples of queen bees, emerging adults, larvae and eggs from the same colonies will be sampled for visors testing. Sister queens to the sampled colonies will be used for further breeding and testing. Samples taken from 5 beekeepers and 16 colonies during the 2012 season were shipped to Dr. Currie’s lab to be processed. This information will be available for bee breeders to use for the 2013 breeding season. Queen quality can be maintained through regular screening of Ontario produced queens for their mating quality. A reliable method to determine the number and viability of sperm from the queen’s spermatheca will be adopted and adapted as part of the Ontario Honey Bee Breeding Program. In 2012, 9 bee breeders supplied 55 queens for fertility testing.

4. Development of Bee Breeding Program (CAAP)

TTP is working to formalize and organize the methods and criteria used by bee breeders to select for improved genetics in honey bees. Using critiqued information, research, and consultation with experienced researchers and industry individuals; a formal breeding program is being created to answer the demand by bee breeders to understand how they use the criteria and data they collect to improve their breeding programs.

B. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program to Control Honey Bee Pests & Diseases:

1. Oxalic Acid to Control Varroa Mite in the Spring Season (CAAP)

A new method to apply oxalic acid to control varroa mite in the spring season for queen/nuc producers and pollination beekeepers was tested. The advantage to this treatment is that there is no effect on honey bee populations or queens and is considered a treatment to prevent resistant building to other commonly used miticides in an IPM program.

2. Small Hive Beetle: Management Strategies and Controls (OMAFRA)

With the identification of small hive beetle infestation in Essex County, Ontario, monitoring and control methods were investigated. An entrance trap (Teal Trap) was installed on bee colonies in 3 bee yards in May and monitored weekly until the end of October to make observations on the lifecycle of SHB in northern climates. Observations of bee colony health, strength and beetle/larvae population were made throughout the season in order to assess the different honey bee pests and health conditions contribute to SHB infestations. Permanone is the only registered ground treatment to control SHB in the soil when it is developing from larva to an adult. In 2012, the TTP tested the Permanone ground drench treatment in order to determine its efficacy to reduce the amount of re-infestation of SHB into colonies.

3. 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 Bayvarol® (flumethrin). In September, resistance testing was conducted in one bee yard in Halton County. Average fluvalinate, amitraz and flumethrin efficacy was 96.89%, 96.74% and 96.84% respectively.

C. Management Practices to Improve Honey Bee Colony Health:

1. Best Management Practices of Pollination Colonies (CAAP)

Honey bee colonies transported long distances for pollination services often return in poor shape. Colonies from Ontario are transported to New Brunswick for blueberry pollination and some colonies also pollinate cranberries before returning. Four hundred colonies from four producers where monitored in the spring before going to pollination, upon returning from pollination and before going into winter by assessing population rates, food stores and honey bee queen status. Population rates, food stores and the ability of the colony to sustain a queen can be directly related to nutrition. Based on the management survey of the producers taking part in this survey, each is using varying rates and timing of pollen and sugar application.

D. Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers:

1. Introductory Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)

“Introductory Beekeeping” workshops were held in Guelph (May), Ancaster (2, June), Bobcaygeon (June) and Ottawa (June). A total of 119 people attended these five workshops in 2012.

2. IPM and Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)

“Beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” workshops were conducted in Guelph (May), Bobcaygeon (June) and Ottawa (June). A total of 58 people attended these three workshops in 2012.

3. Introductory Queen Rearing Workshop (TTP)

One “Introductory Queen Rearing” workshop was conducted in Guelph in June. 24 people attended this workshop in 2012.

4. Advisory and Outreach for Apiculture in Ontario (KTT, in conjunction with U of G)

The OBA is cooperating with the University of Guelph to update the Ontario Beekeeping Manual and the Ontario Queen Rearing Manual, and to use the information in these manuals to develop beekeeping fact sheets and instructional videos. These resources will be geared towards training new beekeepers but will also be useful references for experienced beekeepers. In addition, OBA meetings will be made available to those who are unable to attend via livestreaming webinar services. In this manner, people in Ontario who are too far from the meeting location or those who are out-of-province or out-of-country can see and listen to the meeting presentations and participate in asking questions.

5. Preparing for New Business Opportunities in Northern Ontario (AMI)

Northern Ontario blueberry growers are expanding their acreage. Northern Ontario beekeepers need to prepare for the business opportunity presented by this increase in demand for services. A series of forums to assist beekeepers in planning for potential business expansion was created. Each session was videotaped and will be available at a later date to all those who attended. Guest speakers were brought in to assist in delivering the most accurate reliable information. In 2012, there were 5 forums held in 5 locations across Ontario.