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Goals and Objective: Goal 1
Objective 1.9

Obj 1.9: Demonstrate economic efficacy of IPM Varroa control methods


Rationale and significance
Although there are numerous non-chemical methods that slow or reverse Varroa population growth (Delaplane et al. 2005), beekeepers have historically been slow to abandon chemicals (Delaplane 2007). This proceeds from a presumption that IPM is economical only at the hobbyist scale. A demonstration project with beekeeper collaborators ranging in colony numbers from 35-500 suggested that colonies with bottom screens and Russian queens were just as profitable as chemical-treated colonies (Delaplane et al. 2007). However, our investigative methods were intrusive to the beekeepers at their busiest time of the year, and we are not satisfied that we had good cooperation or representative data. Therefore, we are altering the methods of this objective from a field demonstration in favor of a survey approach which will let beekeepers provide data from records in the off-season. The result, we believe, will be more thoughtful answers and more accurate information. This is especially effective, given the target demographic of this objective – commercial beekeepers. 

We remain unchanged in our belief that a demonstration of IPM economy is crucial to a national strategy of moving the industry toward IPM. Moreover, we assert that Varroa is the appropriate target for IPM. Whether it is shown to be a primary cause, a contributing cause, or only a weak associate of CCD, we believe that Varroa remains a serious contributor to honey bee morbidity. Hence, any way to increase beekeeper adoption of Varroa IPM will be a step toward the goals of this CAP. Moreover, all the IPM efficacy data in the world will fail to win over beekeepers until those practices are shown to be revenue positive or at least revenue neutral. This objective is integral to the entire CAP strategy. 

Expected outcome
To promote:

  1. reduction in chemical use in beekeeping and
  2. increased adoption of IPM.

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 objectives 1.9 and 4.4 principal investigators (Webster, Skinner, Delaplane, Sheppard, M. Ellis, and Drummond) to date during the CAP

Afik, O., W. Hunter, and K.S. Delaplane. 2010. Effects of varroa mites and bee diseases on pollination efficacy of honey bees. Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference, Orlando, Florida. American Bee Journal 150(5): 497

Berry, J.A., W.B. Owens, & K.S. Delaplane. 2010. Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies. Apidologie 41: 41-44 doi 10.1051/apido/2009049

Delaplane, K.S. & J.A. Berry. 2009. A test for sub-lethal effects of some commonly used hive chemicals. Proceedings of American Bee Research Conference, Gainesville, Florida. American Bee Journal 149(6): 586

Delaplane, K.S. and J.A. Berry. 2010. A test for sub-lethal effects of some commonly used hive chemicals, year two. Proceedings of American Bee Research Conference, Orlando, Florida. American Bee Journal 150(5): 498-499

Delaplane, K.S., J.D. Ellis, and W.M. Hood. 2010. A test for interactions between Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) and Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) in colonies of honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America

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

Ellis, J.D., S. Spiewok, K.S. Delaplane, S. Bucholz, P. Neumann, & L. Tedders. 2010. Susceptibility of Aethina tumida (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae) larvae and pupae to entomopathogenic nematodes. Journal of Economic Entomology 103(1): 1-9 doi 10.1603/EC08384

Ellis, M.D. Pesticides Applied to Crops and Honey Bee Toxicity. 2010. American Bee
Journal, 149(5):485-486

Heintz, C, M. Ribotto, M. Ellis, K.S. Delaplane. 2011. Best Management Practices (BMPs) For Beekeepers Pollinating California’s Agricultural Crops. American Bee Journal, 151(3):265-268

Johnson, R.M. , M. Ellis, C.A. Mullin , M. Frazier. 2010. Pesticides and honey bee toxicity - USA. Apidologie 41:312–331 DOI: 10.1051/apido/2010018

Johnson, R.M., M.D. Ellis, C.A. Mullin, M. Frazier. (ed. Samataro) Book: ”Honey Bee Colony Health: Challenges and Sustainable solutions” Book chapter 14, Pesticides and Bee Toxicity - U.S.A Taylor and Francis, LLC, (accepted, 2011)

Pettis, J.S. and K. S. Delaplane. 2010. Coordinated responses to honey bee decline in the USA. Apidologie

Webster, T.C., F. E. Dowell, E. B. Maghirang, E. M. Thacker. 2009. Visible and near-infrared spectroscopy detects queen honey bee insemination. Apidologie. 40:565-569

Webster, T.C. 2010. Nosema ceranae -- the inside story. American Bee Journal. 150(4):367-370

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)

Williams, G.R., D.R. Tarpy, D. vanEngelsdorp, M.P. Chauzat, D.L. Cox-Foster, K.S. Delaplane, P. Neumann, J.S. Pettis, R.E.L. Rogers, D. Shutler. 2010. Colony Collapse Disorder in context. BioEssays doi: 10.1002/bies.201000075

Wilson, M. and J. Skinner. 2009. European foulbrood: A bacterial disease affecting
honey bee brood. website:

Wilson, M., J. Skinner, K. Delaplane, and J. Pettis. 2010. Bee Health @ a
web platform for the creation and dissemination of science-based recommendations. Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference 2010. American Bee Journal, 150 (4):497- 511

Yves Le Conte, M. Ellis, W. Ritter. 2010. Varroa mites and honey bee health: can Varroa explain part of the colony losses? Apidologie, DOI: 10.1051/apido/2010017

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. Best Management Practices (BMPs) For Beekeepers Pollinating California’s Agricultural Crops

Updated July 22, 2011.