Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Science-based, Innovative Winterization System on the Health and Mortality of Honey Bees

Project Overview

FNC22-1321
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,460.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Northwinds BeeCo, LLC
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Peggy DeSanto
Northwinds BeeCo, LLC

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal summary:


Every winter, beekeepers in Minnesota are experiencing 50-60% losses. Peggy DeSanto did an extensive review of the scientific studies, and the research shows that managing both cold and moisture greatly improve honey bee survival. A common beekeeping practice is to eliminate moisture by creating openings to ventilate the moisture out of the hive. However, a major drawback to ventilation is significant heat loss. The research shows that another potential benefit to keeping moisture in the hive is a reduction in parasites and diseases.

With the help of many experts, Peggy created an innovative, science-based system utilizing high-tech materials to minimize heat loss. The design is unique in that it controls where the moisture condenses, it does not seek to eliminate it. The project proposal is to perform a controlled study comparing this winterization system with the current, widely used system used by beekeepers. If this new approach to winterization is shown to be more effective, this will lead to a significant paradigm shift in how beekeepers winterize their hives. If successful at improving winter survival and bee health, beekeepers will reduce costs associated with colony loss, increase income from honey and bee sales, as well as save critical pollinators.

Project objectives from proposal:

1. Perform a study where a new bee hive winterization system is installed on 50 hives and then compared with a control group of 50 hives to determine its impact on honey bee survival, bee health and honey consumption.

2. Perform a study to compare how the new winterization system affects the temperature and humidity in the hives compared to the control hives.

3. Quantify the amount of labor and financial savings that the new winterization system can provide for beekeepers.

4. Share the results by utilizing social media, publishing in bee journals and presenting at bee clubs.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.