PI(s): Fell, Richard D (Co-Project Leader), Brewster, Carlyle C (Co-Project Leader), Cobb, Jean M (Co-Project Leader)

Abstract: The U.S. beekeeping industry has faced serious challenges after the introduction of the parasitic mites, Varroa destructor and Acarapis woodi. The mites have lead to a significant delcine in the number of managed colonies. Effforts to control the mites have lead to an over-reliance on acaracides and chemical fumigants. Our goal, therefore, is to develop and promote an IPM program that not only provides beekeepers with alternative approaches for the management of mite parasites, but reduces pesticide use and the potential for honey and wax contamination. We will also sample hives (honey and wax) for miticide residues to allow us to monitor changes in hive product contamination.

Description:The U. S. beekeeping industry faced serious challenges after the introduction of two parasitic mite species. The tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi) was first discovered in the U. S. in 1984, and the varroa mite (Varroa destructor, formerly known as V. jacobsoni) was found in 1987. The combination of these two mites has had catastrophic effects on the beekeeping industry and led to a significant decline in the number of managed colonies in the U.S. Efforts to control the mites have focused on the use of acaricides and chemical fumigants, such as fluvalinate, coumaphos, formic acid, and thymol. The serious consequences of mite infestations has led to an over-reliance on chemical controls, the development of resistance in mite populations, and the realization by many in the bee industry that such practices are not sustainable. In addition, the discovery of a new pest, the small hive beetle Aethina tumida, in the U. S. in 1998 and Virginia in 2003, has increased the use of coumaphos in hives. Our goal, therefore, is to develop and promote an IPM program that not only provides beekeepers with alternative approaches for the management of mite parasites, but reduces pesticide use and the potential for honey and wax contamination. The IPM program will include the use of mite sampling techniques for estimating mite population levels in hives, the use of non-chemical methods for reducing mite populations, and the use of resistant bee-lines. Beekeepers will be encouraged to adopt IPM practices by combining education programs with demonstration projects that show the effectiveness of an integrated management approach. The profitability of the IPM program will be assessed by an economic analysis. We will also sample hives (honey and wax) for miticide residues to allow us to monitor changes in hive product contamination, and collaborate with the Virginia State Apiarist on mite resistance testing.