Research in Progress

2017 Current Research and Activities

Les Eccles, Melanie Kempers, Daniel Thurston, Dan Borges, Kelsey Ducsharm & Jade Muileboom

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. 

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. Queen Fertility Testing (TTP)

Honey bee queens raised within established breeding programs were analyzed for mating success by determining sperm counts and sperm viability within the spermatheca. Queens were also analyzed for the presence of nosema and any noticeable damage.


B. Management Practices to Improve Honey Bee Colony Health:

1. Beeomics

The second year of a two year cross-Canada project to measure economically important genetic traits of honey bees in the field and identify genetic correlations through marker assisted selection. In 2016 TTP worked with queen breeders across the province to do this monitoring. In 2017 nucs (now colonies) from Ontario's queen breeders were placed in a single location for intensive management and monitoring. The project is in partnership with Dr. Amaro Zayed  (York University) and Dr. Leonard Foster (University of British Columbia). 
2. Probiotics 
In his masters work Dan Borges identified organic compounds to combat nosema infections in honey bees within lab settings. This summer a new masters student, Shane, is performing field testing on those compounds. TTP has partnered with the UofG to perform these field trials and collect data. 
3. Isolated Mating Yard
In 2015 TTP established an isolated mating yard in the Muskoka region of Ontario to provide isolated mating for Ontario bee breeders. The yard is stocked with selected and hygienic genetics and flooded with drones. This yard provides breeders the opportunity to mate queens outside of their home territory and diversify genetics. In 2017 TTP maintained and facilitated use of the yard in conjunction with 5 Ontario queen breeders. 


C. Progressive Training and Information Program for Beekeepers:

1. Introductory Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)

2. IPM for Beekeeping Workshops (TTP)

3. Introductory Queen Rearing Workshop (TTP)

4. Advanced Queen Breeding Workshop (GF2)

5. Advanced IPM Workshop (GF2)

6. Advanced Pollination Workshop (GF2)

7. Online Introductory Beekeeping Workshop (GF2)