Does a balanced diet improve honey bee hive vitality for beekeepers?

Sonora, California
Biology
$480
Pledged
11%
Funded
$4,547
Goal
19
Days Left
  • $480
    pledged
  • 11%
    funded
  • 19
    days left

About This Project

Commercial beekeepers commonly provide supplemental nutrition to hives during the dearth to ensure hive survival. This nutritional supplement has historically focused on providing an alternative protein and carbohydrate source. Recent research shows that fats may be as important in honey bee hive health. We hypothesize that the addition of plant based oils with a balanced Omega 6:3 ratio combined with increased 24-methylenecholesterol levels will increase honey bee hive vitality.

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What is the context of this research?

The beekeeping industry is experiencing increased losses, reduced yields, and decreased colony health in general. Nutritional stress is one factor that is closely correlated with long term effects on hives. Recent research shows that Omega 3 fatty acids and the Omega 6:3 ratio directly affect honey bee learning. The addition of 24-methylenecholesterol increases brood rearing and worker bee lifespan.

However, these studies and many similar studies are narrowly focused, laboratory based, and do not attempt to extend the results to practical beekeeping in the field. This study determines if adding balanced fats to supplemental feed is applicable and economically viable for beekeepers in the field.

What is the significance of this project?

The ability to decrease honey bee hive losses while increasing productivity and general hive health through better nutrition has significant importance to beekeepers, farmers and the general population. In fact, 71% of the 100 crops used for the world's food production are pollinated by honey bees.

This study examines whether the increased cost associated by providing a diet balanced with an Omega 6:3 ratio and enhanced levels of 24-methylenecholesterol through the use of plant based oils is a practical solution that beekeepers can implement into their business. If the utilization of the selected plant based oils increases hive vitality, then this finding can be immediately implemented in the field to reduce the losses that beekeepers are currently experiencing.

What are the goals of the project?

The funds will be used to determine if honey bee hives placed on an experimental diet containing a balanced Omega 6:3 ratio with enhanced levels of 24-methylenecholesterol has observable and positive economic effects on the hives from a beekeeper's perspective. Specifically, will the increased costs associated with the experimental diet translate into economic benefits for the commercial beekeeper? This study will track measured differences, such as increased hive survival, increased splits, and increased frames of bees for pollination which directly affect the economic model for beekeepers.

On a more global perspective any positive effect on beekeepers and their hives also directly impacts farmers, agriculture and the global food supply.

Budget

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The budget will be used to place a total of 24 bee hives in this long term field study. Twelve hives will be purchased immediately after the 2020 almond pollination season and subsequently split into 24 hives. All monies will be utilized to provide the required ongoing supplemental feeding and maintenance for the 12 control hives and 12 treatment hives until February 2021 when hives will undergo final assessment for almond pollination.

Endorsed by

As a 35 year beekeeper, Master Beekeeper, with a five year tenure as the president of the Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, and a long time friend and colleague of A. Lee Lang, I am very excited to see this proposal. Not to mention the very attractive timeline and budget. Just the sort of research the beekeeping community so desperately needs!

Flag iconProject Timeline

The research will be carried out over 11 months to ensure that long term effects of the enhanced supplemental diet are captured in the study. During this period, the control and experimental hives will be maintained and monitored as commercially viable hives.


Jan 23, 2020

Project Launched

May 01, 2020

Purchase 12 double deep hives directly following almond pollination and divide into 24 equally sized hives.  Place 24 queens from a common mother queen.

Aug 15, 2020

Initiate feeding paradigm of pollen substitute diets.  This milestone is environmentally dependent upon local floral sources but usually starts in mid-August.

Aug 15, 2020

Initiate data collection and perform regular hive inspections and maintenance.

Feb 10, 2021

Final hive assessment and conclusion of study.

Meet the Team

A. Lee Lang
A. Lee Lang
Owner of Leez Beez

Affiliates

PO BOX 187
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A. Lee Lang

I am a former Molecular Biologist who started Leez Beez, a commercial beekeeping business. I have 20 years of research under my belt, as well as 15 years of hands on beekeeping experience. Using my skills as a former bench top scientist, I am seeking to translate today's scientific research into practical uses for beekeepers. Although I no longer work at the "bench", I have focused my passion for discovery onto beekeeping, and hope to make practical changes to revolutionize the beekeeping industry.

Lab Notes

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Additional Information

Branchiccela et. al. found a correlation between nutritional stress and honeybee colony health in field conditions. Their study found a decrease in nutritional strength that was positively correlated with decreased Nosema spp. levels. Although Nosema infection had no effect on colony strength during the actual nutritional deficiency, the infections ultimately had significant long term affects on colony strength.

24-methylenecholesterol is an essential sterol which honey bees obtain from pollen. Herbert et. al. found that honey bee workers survived longer and hives had increased levels of capped brood when their diet was supplemented with 24-methylenecholesterol. However, commercial pollen substitutes and commonly used vegetable oils used when making feed for the bees have minimal levels of 24-methylenecholesterol. This study will build upon previously published research involving 24-methylenecholesterol, in order to develop pollen substitutes that can be utilized for maintaining commercial bee hives.


Project Backers

  • 17Backers
  • 11%Funded
  • $480Total Donations
  • $28.24Average Donation
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