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Ongoing Projects

National Honey Bee Survey

The National Honey Bee Survey (NHBS) represents a nationwide colony inspection program which gathers longitudinal data on US honey bee health. Data collected by NHBS provides a baseline for honey bee disease levels, valuable to beekeepers and researchers. Since 2009, the survey has detected existing pest and disease loads across all US states and is monitoring for the emergence of other invasive organisms such as Apis cerana and Tropilaelaps spp. mites. Colonies are also tested for pesticide residues to assess the variety and quantity found in the wax, bee bread, and pollen of US hives. The Vermont Bee Lab serves as a proxy for conducting these surveys in Vermont. We visit 24 apiaries throughout the honey season, collecting composite samples of live/dead bees and hive materials to be sent for laboratory analysis. Funding from the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) helps to support the project in collaboration with the University of Maryland (UMD), USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and State Apiary Specialists.

A Partnership for Improving Northeast Honey Bee Breeding Stock by Implementing Novel Selection Criteria

Since 2006, Vermont beekeepers have lost an average of 33% of their honey bee colonies each winter and in 2018-2019, Vermont’s average annual colony losses ranked third highest across the nation (Bee Informed Colony Loss Survey). One mechanism whereby beekeepers can mitigate colony losses is through selective breeding programs that select for stock well-adapted to local environments and pest/pathogen resistance. To strengthen the quality and availability of locally adapted bee stock, we are engaged in a collaborative initiative that brings together one of the largest, longest-running bee breeding operations in Vermont with the expertise and resources of bee disease experts at the Vermont Bee Lab.

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