Growing the bees to grow the farm

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2020: $48,682.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G354-20-W7901
Grant Recipient: University of Hawaii
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Ethel Villalobos
University of Hawaii

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: feed management, genetics
  • Crop Production: pollination, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Pest Management: biological control, field monitoring/scouting

    Proposal abstract:

    The proposed project focuses on exploring how to increase the number and the quality of colonies involved in agricultural production in 2 states, Arizona and Hawaii. The managed bees in Arizona form part of the migratory pool of pollinators that services almond growers in California, and the Hawaii bees are involved in local cucurbit production, as well as, providing additional services to the macadamia growers.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Objective 1- Improve the health of colonies that will provide pollination services
    • Test the impact of feeding supplements (carbohydrate based, protein based, and phytochemical based supplements) on the overall health of the treated colonies in AZ and HI.
    • Health parameters that we will recorded will be quantifiable measures of viral titers of Deformed Wing Virus, Nosema spores, and Varroa mite numbers, as well as honey production and colony bee population estimates.
    • Objective 2- Incorporate colonies that would be destroyed into the pool of manageable honey bee colonies
    • Determine what is the most suitable timing for effective re-queening with European Honeybees (EHB), converting the swarms of Africanized bees (AHB) into usable colonies for pollination and honey production.
    • AHB are less susceptible to mites, consequently they need less frequent treatments. In our project we will examine when is the most productive time to make the switch to EHB queens to promote colony growth, while balancing the use of the natural mite defense of AHB for as long as possible in the apiary.
    • Objective 3- Examine the variation in mite and disease resistance present in the feral population of AZ honey bees
    • Collect data on the bee genetics, document possible mite resistance, and examine the levels and strains of viral diseases in the wild caught bees in AZ.
    • The findings will help best integrate the existing honey bee genetics, with management strategies. Assessing sources of resistance and variability should be considered as part of the potential management along with the introduction of EHB queens.


    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.