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Goals and Objective: Goal 1
Objective 1.3

Obj 1.3: Determine the role of pests, pathogens and pesticides in causing disease in stationary honey bee colonies across the United States

(apiaries: Drummond (separate funding), Ostiguy, Spivak, Aronstein, Sheppard, Visscher; analytic work: Averill, Ostiguy, Eitzer)

Rationale and significance
To tie in all objectives of Goal 1, it is critical to understand the interactions and epidemiology of Nosema spp., viruses and other pathogens and parasites in field colonies across representative regions of our country. In an Areawide Program, USDA-ARS will be monitoring mite loads and comparing management strategies in migratory colonies. We will complement this work by focusing a large scale study on eight stationary apiaries across the US in which we monitor co-occurrence of pathogens, mites, and pesticides and identify factors associated with colony morbidity. Geography is a source of variation in the etiology of bee disorders, as shown by Es'kov and Maslennikova (2004) and Degrandi-Hoffman et al. (2004) for Varroa and by Berényi et al. (2006) for numerous viruses.  Finally, the establishment of these sentinel apiaries will provide a resource for appraising pesticide residues, metagenomic characterizations, and spill-over pathology affecting non-Apis (see Goal 3.1). 

Expected outcomes

  1. identify different viruses, bacterial pathogens, and Nosema found in stationary colonies in different geographic regions;
  2. quantify viral and Nosema spp. infection levels as related to stationary colony morbidity and mortality, and multi-variable correlations with pests and pesticides;
  3. quantify stationary colony exposure to commonly used pesticides in relationship to region and crop; and
  4. determine relationships between pesticides found in colonies and surrounding land use.

Summary Statement for Goal 1
This goal constitutes our attempts at understanding the most important morbidity factors at work in North American Apis mellifera. Work in this Goal is characterized by a high degree of interinstitutional linkages within CAP labs, resulting in four topical groups. The Nosema group is comprised of Lee Solter (Univ IL), Tom Webster (KY State Univ), Zach Huang (MI State), Christina Grozinger (Penn State), and Kate Aronstein (ARS Weslaco). The virus group is made up of Jay Evans and Judy Chen (ARS Beltsville) and Lee Solter. There have been cross-group linkages with Greg Hunt (Purdue) who is studying the genetic basis of bee resistance to N. ceranae and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). A diagnostics group is comprised of Jay Evans, Judy Chen, and Kate Aronstein. The toxicology group is comprised of Marion Ellis (Univ NB), Maryann Frazier, Jim Frazier, and Chris Mullin (Penn State). A sentinel apiary monitoring group, led by Frank Drummond (Univ. of Maine), is comprised of Nancy Ostiguy (Penn State), Marla Spivak (Univ. of Minn.), Kate Aronstein (ARS Weslaco), Sheppard (Univ. of Wash.), Kirk Visscher (Univ. of CA - Riverside); analytic work by Anne Averill (Univ. of Mass.), Nancy Ostiguy (Penn State), and Brian Eitzer (CT Experiment Station) is collecting baseline data on field colonies and factors contributing to bee morbidity. And finally, an IPM adoption group is headed up by Keith Delaplane (Univ GA).


Methodology, data and analysis of results to date are shared in an annual report to USDA. Papers generated by team members during the time of the CAP are listed and periodically updated below. Beyond the citation of published papers, the consensus of the group is that it would otherwise be unhelpful or possibly misleading to state preliminary results within the context on this web site.


Publications of objective 1.3 principal investigators (Aronstein, Drummond, Eitzer, Ostiguy, Sheppard, Spivak and Visscher) to date during the CAP

Aronstein K.A, and J. Adamczyk. 2011. Influence of Genomics: The Post Genomic Era in the Honey Bee Research. The Journal of the Texas Beekeepers Association. 11(1): 12-17

Aronstein, K.A., H.E. Cabanillas. (ed. Samataro) Book: ”Honey Bee Colony Health: Challenges and Sustainable solutions” Book chapter 11: Chalkbrood Re-examined . Taylor and Francis, LLC, (accepted, 2011)

Aronstein, K.A. 2009. Detect Nosema Parasite in Time to Save Bee Colonies. Am. Bee J.150 (1): 63-65

Aronstein, K.A., Eduardo Saldivar, T.C. Webster. 2011. Evaluation of Nosema ceranae Spore-specific polyclonal antibodies. Journal of Apicultural Research 50(2): 145-151

Aronstein, K. A., B. Oppert, and M.D. Lorenzen. (ed. Paula Grabowski) 2011. Book: “RNA Processing,” Chapter “RNAi in the Agriculturally Important Arthropods.” ISBN 978-953-307-332-3, InTech.

Eitzer, B., F. Drummond, J.D. Ellis, N. Ostiguy, K. Aronstein, W.S. Sheppard, K. Visscher, D. Cox-Foster, & A. Averill. 2010. Pesticide analysis at the stationary apiaries, American Bee Journal, 150(5):500

Krupke, C., B. Eitzer, & G.J. Hunt. 2011. Potential routes of exposure to honey bees from
neonicotinoid corn seed treatments. (Abstract) American Bee Journal (in Press)

Lee, K, Reuter GS, M. Spivak. 2010. Standardized sampling plan to detect Varroa densities in colonies and apiaries. Am. Bee J. 149(12):1151-1155

Lee K.V., R.D. Moon R.D., E.C. Burkness, W.D. Hutchison, M. Spivak. 2010.  Practical sampling plans for Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) in Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apiae) colonies and apiaries. J. Econ. Entomol. 103(4): 1039-1050

Mader, E., M. Spivak, E. Evans. 2010.  Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Growers, Beekeepers and Conservationists”  NRAES/ SARE Publication.  250pp., ISBN 978-1-933395-20-3

Ostiguy, N. 2010. Sustainable beekeeping: managed pollinator CAP coordinated agricultural project - a national research and extension initiative to reverse pollinator decline. American Bee Journal, 150(3):149-152

Oxley, P., M. Spivak, & B.P. Oldroyd. 2010. Six quantitative trait loci influence task thresholds for hygienic behaviour in honeybees (Apis mellifera). Molecular Ecology 19: 1452–1461

Spivak, M., G.S. Reuter. 2008. New direction for the Minnesota hygienic line of bees. American Bee Journal 148(12):1085-1086

Spivak, M., G.S. Reuter, & B. Ranum. 2009. The future of the MN hygienic stock of bees
is in good hands! American Bee Journal, 149(10): 965-967

Spivak M. 2010. Honey bee “Medial records”: The stationary apiary project. Managed
Pollinator CAP Update. Bee Culture.150(3): 270-274

Spivak, M. 2010. Honey bee “medical records”: the stationary apiary monitoring project.
American Bee Journal, 149(3):271-274

Spivak, M., Y. Le Conte. 2010. Special issue on bee health. Apidologie, DOI:

Spivak M, E. Mader, M. Vaughan, N.H., Jr. Euliss. 2011. The plight of bees. Environ.
Sci. & Technol.45: 34-38. *Editor’s Choice Award, ES&T Best Feature Paper

Spivak, M. 2011. Laying groundwork for a sustainable market of genetically-improved
queens: The bee team. Managed pollinator CAP Update. Am. Bee J. 151(5): 483- 385

Swanson, J.A., I.B. Torto, S.A. Kells, K.A. Mesce, J.H. Tumlinson, & M. Spivak. 2009. Odorants that induce hygienic behavior in honeybees: Identification of volatile compounds in chalkbrood-infected honeybee larvae. J. Chem. Ecol. 35: 1108- 1116

Webster, T and K.A. Aronstein. Nosema ceranae Detection by Microscopy and Antibody
Tests. (ed. Samataro) Honey bee Colony Health: Challenges and Sustainable solutions (ed. Diana Samataro): Book chapter 10: Taylor and Francis, LLC. (accepted, 2011)

Further Background Information
Documentation of CAP progress in general, and of this objective in particular, is available through the following sources:

  1. Bee Health, an eXention initiative for peer-reviewed scientific recommendations
  2. Colony Collapse Disorder Progress Report for 2009
  3. When Varroacides Interact
  4. Honey Bee “Medical Records”: The Stationary Apiary Monitoring Project
  5. Pesticides Applied to Crops and Honey Bee Toxicity
  6. Detect Nosema Parasite in Time to Save Bee Colonies
  7. Sustainable Beekeeping
  8. Wild Bee Status and Evidence for Pathogen 'Spillover' with Honey Bees 
  9. Assessing the Risks of Honey Bee Exposure to Pesticides
  10. Pesticides and their involvement in Colony Collapse Disorder

Updated August 19, 2011.