The highlight talk of the day was by Jeff Pettis who is with the US Dept. of Agriculture and is the head of the Honey Bee Laboratory in Beltsville MD. Their mission is to conduct research on the biology and control of honey bee parasites, diseases, and pests to ensure an adequate supply of bees for pollination and honey production. The talk was entitled ”A Retrospective Look At Factors Contributing to Colony Losses in The U.S. Over Five Years”. He spoke about the major losses across the country caused by CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). A number of factors are suspected of causing this syndrome; nutrition (pollen and nectar quality and availability), pesticides, specifically neonicatinoids, parasites, i.e. Varroa mites, viruses such as Israeli paralysis virus and others, moving bees by truck across the country for pollination. All of these possibilities have been looked into over the last five years. Jeff, in collaboration with Dennis Van Engelsdorp, specifically investigated the latter.
24 colonies were chosen for the experiment, 12 remained stationary in California and 12 were moved by truck across the country. Temperature variations in the brood nest were recorded continuously in all 24 colonies. Also brood size was calculated before and at the end of the study. They found that the stationary hives’ temperature remained stable and that of the transported ones varied greatly (as I would expect bouncing around on a truck). At the end it was found that brood size in the trucked bees was slightly smaller but not enough to negatively affect the colony. Jeff said, in his opinion, that transporting bees for pollination really showed no negative effect and was not a factor in colony losses.
This morning it’s back to some more lectures for me. I’m looking forward to Monday, when I’ll be going on a technical tour/field trip visiting two queen rearing operations.