2015 OBA Tech-Transfer Program Research Projects/Programs

2015 Research and Activities


The OBA-Tech Transfer Program has had another very active year attending and presenting at 40 meetings to approx. 2786 attendees, and running 12 projects. There is no question that this could not happen without the dedication and passion that the members of the TTP have for the beekeeping industry in Ontario; as they continually go above and beyond normal work expectations.

TTP 2015:

Les Eccles – Lead Specialist 
Pat Westlake – OBA TTP Administrator 
Melanie Kempers – Technical Specialist 
Daniel Thurston – Technical Specialist 
Daniel Borges – Intern
Kelsey Ducsharm – Summer Student
Maria Kolkman - Summer Student
David Bowan – Collaborator

PROJECT TITLE: Breeding and Maintaining Parasitic Mite Resistant Honey Bee Stocks in Ontario
The Ontario Honey Bee Breeding Program is a long term program to incorporate and maintain mite resistant characteristics in Ontario’s honey bee stock. 2006 was the 15th year of testing for tracheal mite resistance and 2015 was the 18th year of testing for hygienic behaviour.
Bee breeders in Ontario selected colonies with favourable characteristics to be tested for tracheal mite resistance and hygienic behaviour. The tracheal mite resistance test has not been performed since 2006 due lack of tracheal mite infested colonies to perform the tests on Ontario breeder colonies. 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 288 potential breeder colonies for 15 bee breeders in 2015, an increase of close to 50%.
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 288 potential breeder colonies from 15 bee breeders have will be analysed for nosema, tracheal mite and varroa testing.
PROJECT TITLE: Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers
1. Introductory Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)
Six “Introductory Beekeeping” workshops were held in Ancaster, Milton, Port Hope, Simcoe, Kingston, and 1 additional workshop at EAS Guelph 2015.
2. IPM and Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)
Six “Beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)” workshops were conducted in Ancaster, Milton, Port Hope, Simcoe, and 1 additional workshop at EAS Guelph 2015
3. Introductory Queen Rearing Workshop (TTP)
Three “Introductory Queen Rearing” workshops were conducted 1 in Guelph and 1 in Kingston, and 1 additional workshop at EAS Guelph 2015.
All three workshops consisted of classroom presentations accompanied by hands-on sessions in the bee yard, with 286 participants, in total.
PROJECT TITLE: Eastern Apiculture Society Conference, Guelph Ontario
The TTP was key in the planning, development and implementation of the EAS conference help in Guelph, Aug 2015. Although no funding was made available for the event, the TTP dedicated much time and resources to this very successful and worthwhile investment by the OBA. More details on this event can be found in the OBA admin report.
PROJECT TITLE: Decontamination of Bee Hive Equipment with Ozone Fumigation
The Ontario beekeeping industry has been facing multiple factors that contribute to the increase mortality of honey bees, the sustainability of the industry and its ability to continue providing essential pollination to other commodity groups. One of these factors is the increased chronic exposure of pesticides that is contaminating comb. The cost of removing and replacing contaminated comb per hive is approximately $40. Depending on the size and type of production and service of commercial beekeepers in Ontario, replacement of contaminate comb could incur an annual cost of approximately $20 000- $150 000. If there is a viable treatment for contaminated comb, these costs could be reduced significantly and contribute to the sustainability of beekeeping on Ontario. The technology to be assessed is the use of ozone gas that has been show to be more efficient that chlorine to sanitize water and food for pathogens, parasites, mold and yeast spores. Ozone has been used on harvested fruits and vegetables to prevent the growth of unwanted molds and bacteria that can decrease their storage life. More commonly it is used in the treatment of municipal water; especially in Quebec. Ozonated water is also used for washing fruit, vegetables and poultry to reduce microbial loads. In some vegetables it can eliminate up to 90% of bacteria. Production of ozone produce does not pose a risk to the environment because it quickly reduces to O2 (UofG, 2008).
This project will assess the use of ozone fumigation to oxidize and decontaminate honey comb of the following pesticides:
This project will adapt the published work on decontamination of honey comb using ozone fumigation (James, 2013). Investment by industry will establish the facility and equipment needed to setup the research site in which OFIP funding will be used to assessing the effectiveness of oxidizing pesticide contaminates. Information gathered from this project will be added to best management practices for biosecurity on beekeeping operations; this will include updating of manuals and provincial recommendations. The results will be presented at OBA conferences, local beekeeper association meetings, national conferences, and the Ontario Bee Journal. The results of this project will provide the detailed information on the type of: design, facilities, equipment, investment and instruction needed to optimize the use of ozone to decontaminate hive equipment. The decontamination of equipment will allow beekeepers to sustain the use and investment of hive equipment, while improving honey bee health by decreasing exposure to diseases transfer and insecticides know to compromise honey bee health. Proven results of this investigation will give beekeepers confidence to invest and install facilities for ozone fumigation. These facilities could be constructed for individual operations or used to provide services to beekeepers that pay for service of decontaminating equipment.
START DATE: December 2013
END DATE: December 2014
FUNDING SOURCE: Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP)
PROJECT TITLE: “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) 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
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
FUNDING SOURCE: Growing Forward 2
PROJECT TITLE: Advanced IPM, Queen Breeding and 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
- 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 
- 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 
- 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
FUNDING SOURCE: Growing Forward 2
PROJECT TITLE: Effect of Sublethal doses of Neonicotinoids on Honey Bees in Ontario
PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATORS: Leslie Eccles, Dr. Ernesto Guzman
The information generated from this initial short project (expected to be continued with additional projects in 2014-2015) will provide the beekeeping industry with information on potential toxicity of neonicotinoid pesticides to honey bees under Ontario conditions. The magnitude of the impact (if any) will be quantified and information will be generated to determine how the overall health and reproductive parameters of honey bees is affected and how natural defenses in the bees (immune and detoxification systems) respond to sublethal doses of these pesticides, likely to be found under field conditions. All this information will be useful to design further experiments, policies and strategies aimed at better protecting the bees against poisoning, and to allow for co-existence between crops requiring these types of pesticides and healthy honey bee colonies.
Project Objectives
1. To estimate sublethal dose levels of oral and contact exposure to imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam for Ontario honey bees.
2. To assess the effect of sublethal doses of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam via oral and contact exposure on the lifespan of Ontario honey bees.
3. To assess the impact of sublethal doses of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam via oral and contact exposure on the general health of Ontario honey bees using biomarkers.
4. To assess the effect of sublethal doses of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam via oral and contact exposure on queen and drone sperm counts and viability.
5. To transfer knowledge of information obtained from this project through presentations and publications to Ontario’s agrifood industry and partners.
6. To collaborate and share information from this project with the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency to provide them with additional elements to aid in the re-evaluation of the neonicotinoid class of insecticides. 
Honey bees are the most beneficial insects to human societies. They not only produce honey and other hive products, but they are also the most valuable pollinators of agricultural crops; their pollinating activity accounts for one third of the food produced (McGregor 1976). Thus, maintaining their populations and good health is of vital importance for agriculture and for the adequate pollination of wild plant species.
An unprecedented number of honey bee mortality cases in hives located near cornfields were reported in the spring and early summer of 2012 and 2013 in Ontario and other provinces of Canada. There is preliminary evidence from Health Canada indicating that these unusual cases of bee mortality might have been due to exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides used by growers while planting corn seeds. These cases apparently occurred by acute exposure to the pesticides, but little is known about the potential effects that sublethal exposure to these pesticides might have on honey bee health and reproduction. Therefore it is not clear what course of action, if any, has to be taken. It is critical for the beekeeping industry to determine if these pesticides are harmful to bees at sublethal doses at which they would be expected to be exposed under field conditions in Ontario. The results of this study will allow beekeepers and crop growers to make informed decisions as to how to better protect bees from potential negative effects of these pesticides. 
START DATE: December 2014
END DATE: December 2015
PROJECT TITLE: OBBA-Ontario Resistant Honey Bee Selections (ORHBS) Isolated Mating Apiary.
Honey bees are under constant pressure by pests and diseases which cause reduced honey yields, pollination and mortality of honey bee colonies. One of the most important roles beekeepers play in supporting honey bees, is the production of honey bees resistant to detrimental pests and diseases. Although Ontario has bee breeders with advanced resistance to pests and diseases, there is a need for more beekeepers to begin breeding to increase the genetic diversity for breeding in the province, and produce enough honey bees for the rest of the beekeeping industry that is focused on honey production and pollination services. The purpose of the project is to facilitate an isolated honey bee breeding apiary near Huntsville Ontario, in order to provide a source of genetics to Ontario bee breeders. The genetics maintained in this location would be focused on natural resistance and longevity to improve the honey bee’s ability to fight pest and diseases. This project will facilitate the provision of honey bee genetics with resistance to pests and diseases in a location that honey bee breeders can use to improve their genetic stock. New and mid-sized beekeepers interested in advancing the level of resistance in their stock could use this location to springboard their breeding program and the introduction of pest and disease resistance more rapidly and consistently.
The OBA Tech Transfer Program will work closely with the Ontario Bee Breeders' Association (OBBA) to maintain and provide the proposed isolated bee breeding apiary for use by the Ontario honey bee breeders. Local Ontario honey bee stock that has been selected through the Ontario Resistant Honey Bee Selections (ORHBS) program will be established in the isolated bee breeding apiary. The OBA TTP will facility the ability for honey bee breeders to bring stock they wish to cross with the established resistant honey bees in the isolated breeding yard. The funds from SLUSH would be used to aid the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association Tech Transfer Program (OBA TTP) to maintain and provide this service to Ontario honey bee breeders.
START DATE: April 2015
END DATE: October 2015