Organic Beekeeping Management
Honey bees are the most important managed pollinator for crop production, making the issue of the high percentage of annual colony losses a concern for food security. Various practices are currently used to manage honey bee colonies, which include conventional, organic, and chemical-free systems. We are conducting a stakeholder-driven, integrated systems-based project to rigorously test the effect of conventional, organic and chemical-free honey bee management systems on honey bee health and profitability. Funded by USDA.
Pollen and nectar exposed to pesticides can change the microbiota associated with honey bee colonies. As part of the COMB (Conventional and Organic Management of Bees) project, we are also investigating another important aspect of colony health: how microbial communities change in managed honey bee colonies treated with different in-hive chemicals. Beneficial bacteria and fungi help with the production of bee bread by fermentation of the pollen stored in cells. Symbiotic microbes help metabolize some compounds in the digestive tract of bees. Increasing evidence suggests that changes in the honey bee microbiome can be directly linked to colony health. Funded by USDA.