ARS-Developed Varroa-Resistant Honey Bees Higher Winter Survivors – Agricultural Analysis


ARS-Developed Varroa-Resistant Honey Bees Higher Winter Survivors

Contact: Kim Kaplan
E mail: Kim Kaplan

Baton Rouge, La., April 7, 2022—Pol-line honey bees, a kind of Varroa mite resistant honey bee developed by the Agricultural Analysis Service, are greater than twice as more likely to survive by way of the winter than customary honey bees, in accordance with a research printed in Scientific Reports.

Though ARS developed Pol-line bees in 2014, this research was the primary time that they have been examined head-to-head alongside customary honey bee inventory in industrial apiaries offering pollination providers and producing honey. Colonies’ potential to outlive winter with out being handled to regulate Varroa mites was adopted in 4 states: Mississippi, California, and North and South Dakota.

On this research, Pol-line colonies that got no therapy to regulate Varroa mites within the fall had a survival fee of 62.5 p.c in comparison with customary bees colonies in industrial apiaries additionally given no fall Varroa therapy, which had a winter survival fee of three p.c.

When Pol-line colonies and customary colonies have been handled towards Varroa mites in each fall and December, Pol-line bees had a winter survival fee of 72 p.c whereas customary bees had a survival fee of 56 p.c. So, Pol-line bees nonetheless had a greater winter survival fee no matter receiving double Varroa mite therapy.

“These survival outcomes proceed to focus on the significance of beekeepers needing to handle Varroa infestations. The flexibility to have excessive colony survival with decreased or no Varroa remedies can enable beekeepers to save cash and time,” stated analysis molecular biologist Michael Simone-Finstrom, co-leader of the research with analysis entomologist Frank Rinkevich, each with the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This analysis was the end result of breeding efforts to develop honey bee colonies with naturally low Varroa populations that started on the Baton Rouge lab within the late Nineteen Nineties.

Winter colony survival is essential for beekeepers as a result of in February every year, about 2.5 million honey bee colonies are wanted in California to pollinate almond crops. Bigger, more healthy colonies convey beekeepers premium pollination contracts at about $220 a colony.

A honey bee with a Varroa mite on its back. An ARS-developed line of bees that naturally has low ranges of Varroa mites is greater than twice as more likely to survive the winter than customary honey bees.

Varroa mites may cause huge colony losses; they’re the one largest downside dealing with beekeepers since they unfold to america from Southeast Asia in 1987. Whereas miticides used to regulate Varroa exist, resistance is growing to a few of them.

“We wish to exchange reliance on chemical controls with honey bees like Pol-line which have excessive mite resistance of their very own and carry out properly, together with excessive honey manufacturing, in industrial beekeeping operations. Pol-line’s excessive mite resistance relies on their conduct for eradicating Varroa by expelling infested pupae—the place Varroa mites reproduce—a trait referred to as Varroa-sensitive hygiene (VSH),” stated Rinkevich.

“Past Pol-line bees, we have to create superior and simple breeding choice instruments that beekeepers can use to pick resistance traits in their very own bees to advertise VSH conduct in honey bees throughout the nation,” Simone-Finstrom stated. “The wonderful thing about this specific trait is that we have discovered honey bees of all kinds categorical it at some degree, so we all know with the correct instruments, it may be promoted and chosen in everybody’s bees.”

Evolutionary ecologist Thomas O’Shea-Wheller, now with the College of Exeter in England, who labored on the research whereas a post-doc with Louisiana State College beneath professor Kristen Healy identified, “This type of resistance offers a pure and sustainable resolution to the risk posed by Varroa mites. It doesn’t depend on chemical substances or human intervention.”

As well as, total winter survival, the scientists examined the degrees of viruses in Pol-line and customary bee colonies which are generally transmitted by varroa mites.

The Pol-line colonies confirmed considerably decrease ranges of three main viruses: Deformed wing virus A, Deformed wing virus B and Continual bee paralysis virus, all of which might trigger important issues for colonies.

“Apparently, after we regarded on the ranges of virus an infection individually from the degrees of mite infestation, we discovered there wasn’t a powerful correlation between viral masses and colony survival. You possibly can not use the extent of those viruses pretty much as good predictors of colony losses,” Simone-Finstrom stated.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house analysis company. Every day, ARS focuses on options to agricultural issues affecting America. Every greenback invested in agricultural analysis ends in $17 of financial impression.


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