Genetic variation of Apis mellifera mating behavior under varied climatic conditions

Project Overview

GW19-192
Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2019: $24,987.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Walter Sheppard
Department of Entomology, Washington State University

Commodities

  • Animals: bees

Practices

  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, genetics, heritage breeds, livestock breeding, other
  • Crop Production: beekeeping, grafting, pollinator habitat, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, other, participatory research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, wildlife
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, partnerships, quality of life, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The US beekeeping industry is challenged to reduce increasing colony losses. The increase in hive losses can be attributed to multiple factors, including fluctuating weather, compromised habitat, genetics, and increasing pest and pathogen pressures (vanEnglesdorp, 2009). There is a substantial need for the procurement and propagation of resilient honey bee stock; preferably lines that are pest and disease resistant, and also productive. The improvement of honey bee stocks through selective breeding represents one sustainable approach to assure future pollination services for food production and security, and to maintain and qualitatively enhance the queen production industry. An additional improvement in rearing practices of quality of honey bee stock lines is also needed.

    The demand for early season mated queens drives the commercial queen production market. This research project will decipher if particular commercial strains vary in mating behavior (timing) through the novel utilization of RFID (radio frequency identification).  This proposal is a  re-submission. Comments from 2018 WSARE review committee had a question about feasibility of the units.  To address the feasibility question, we collaborated with WSU undergraduate engineering students through summer of 2018 testing a viable field RFID mating nuclei prototype in the field which worked. This project proposes to use  solar-power enhanced RFID units for 2019  that are capable of banking power to avoid any power loss issues.

    The comparison of mating behavior of various strains will provide information that was not available before without extensive observational hours and limited research design. RFID is a newer research tool within entomology to track and measure insect movement. This research will yield data that is beneficial to queen producers. The data will provide information that helps producers  strategize and plan which strains to rear first to meet market demand while also ensuring queen fecundity and quality for their customers around the nation.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    2019:

    1) Establish queen cell builder and RFID mating nuclei for early season data collection (CA-April).

     Record mating behavior of selected genetic stocks, concurrent with measurements of abiotic sidereal and climatic factors.

    2) Evaluate mating status of experimental queens through ongoing colony evaluation and dissection of spermathecae in a subset of mated queens (May).

    3) Establish cell builder and RFID mating nuclei at WSU for early PNW Inland data collection (May).

    Record mating behavior of selected genetic stocks and subspecies, concurrent with measurements of abiotic sidereal and climatic factors.

    4) Evaluate mating status of experimental queens through ongoing colony evaluation and dissection of spermathecae in a subset of mated queens (June).

    5) Establish cell builder and RFID mating nuclei in OR for initial summer data collection (June).

    Record mating behavior of selected genetic stocks and subspecies, concurrent with measurements of abiotic sidereal and climatic factors.

    6) Share initial data at the WSU Sheppard Honey Bee Lab Queen Breeding & Rearing Workshop (mid-June).

    7) Evaluate mating status of experimental queens through ongoing colony evaluation and dissection of spermathecae in a subset of mated queens (July).

    8) Establish cell builder and RFID mating nuclei in NM for summer data collection (July).

    Record mating behavior of selected genetic stocks and subspecies, concurrent with measurements of abiotic sidereal and climatic factors.

    9) Evaluate mating status of experimental queens through ongoing colony evaluation and dissection of spermathecae in subset of mated queens (August).

    10) Outreach and educational materials will be produced: including article submissions to Western Apicultural Society of North America newsletter, Bee Culture magazine, American Bee Journal, Kelley Beekeeping online newsletter.

    11) Share data with beekeepers and queen producers via presentations:

    • OSBA (Oregon State Beekeepers Meeting- October 2019)
    • CA Queen Breeders meeting (October 2019)

    2020:

    • American Beekeeping Federation Conference (January 2020)
    • Summer producer-adoption follow up surveys with collaborators
    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.