USDA and EPA Release New Report on Honey Bee Health: “Consensus is building that a complex set of stressors and pathogens is associated with CCD…”

May 2, 2013

Editor’s Note:  The USDA/EPA report, “Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health: National Honey Bee Health Stakeholder Conference Steering Committee” is attached here.  Below are the Highlights of Research Overviews:

•     Consensus is building that a complex set of stressors and pathogens is associated with CCD, and researchers are increasingly using multi-factorial approaches to studying causes of colony losses.


•     The parasitic mite Varroa destructor remains the single most detrimental pest of honey bees, and is closely associated with overwintering colony declines.


•     Multiple virus species have been associated with CCD.


•     Varroa is known to cause amplified levels of viruses.


•     The bacterial disease European foulbrood is being detected more often in the U.S. and may be linked to colony loss.


•     Nutrition has a major impact on individual bee and colony longevity.


•     Research indicates that gut microbes associated with honey bees play key roles in enhancement of nutrition, detoxification of chemicals, and protection against diseases.


•     Acute and sublethal effects of pesticides on honey bees have been increasingly documented, and are a primary concern. Further tier 2 (semi-field conditions) and tier 3 (field conditions) research is required to establish the risks associated with pesticide exposure to U.S. honey bee declines in general.


•     The most pressing pesticide research questions lie in determining the actual field-relevant pesticide exposure bees receive and the effects of pervasive exposure to multiple pesticides on bee health and productivity of whole honey bee colonies.


•     Long-term cryopreservation of honey bee semen has been successfully developed and provides the means for long-term preservation of “top-tier” domestic honey bee germplasm for breeding. Genetic variation improves bee thermoregulation, disease resistance and worker productivity.


•     Genomic insights from sequencing the honey bee genome are now widely used to understand and address major questions of breeding, parasite interactions, novel controls (e.g., RNAi), and management to make bees less stressed and more productive.

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