This experiment is part of the Bees Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Home sick: Effects of migratory beekeeping on honey bee disease

Raised of $5,900 Goal
Funded on 12/08/16
Successfully Funded
  • $5,970
  • 101%
  • Funded
    on 12/08/16



Field Experiment Overview: In January 2017, we will sample 48 honey bee colonies in North Carolina for the following pathogens and diseases: Nosema, Varroa mites, American foulbrood, European foulbrood, deformed wing virus, Israeli acute paralysis virus, and black queen cell virus. To test if migratory hives acquire more pathogens than their stationary counterparts, In early February, 16 randomly chosen colonies (migratory group) will be shipped to California for almond pollination while the remaining 32 colonies (stationary group) will remain behind in North Carolina. After one month, the migratory colonies will be transported back to North Carolina where both groups will again be tested for pathogens. To test whether migratory hives transmit diseases to stationary hives, we will randomly split the stationary colonies into two groups: 16 colonies (exposed stationary group) will be placed in the yard containing the returned migratory bees and 16 colonies (control stationary group) will be kept in a separate apiary outside the flight distance of the migratory group. After one month, all hives will be resampled and tested for pathogens.

Sampling and Lab Protocols: To sample each hive, ¼ cup of bees will be collected from the brood chamber and stored in ethanol. An additional ¼ cup of bees will be placed into a vial, stored on dry ice, and shipped overnight to Vermont. If American or European foulbrood is detected during inspection, a brood sample will also be collected. All samples will be analyzed at the University of Vermont using established protocols. We will assess Varroa mite loads per 100 bees by counting the mites within the ethanol bee sample. We will assess Nosema loads by examining homogenized bee samples with a microscope and hemocytometer. Bees collected and stored on dry ice will be transferred to -80℃ freezer and analyzed for RNA viruses using quantitative RT-PCR. Using a microscope and staining protocols, we will examine homogenized brood for American foulbrood, and European foulbrood. 


This project has not yet shared any protocols.