The LSU AgCenter receives nearly one million dollars from the USDA for honeybee research. Entomologist Kristen Healy says any given year there’s higher than normal losses in honeybee colonies, and many studies look at what stressors contributes to these losses. One factor they’ll look at is the mite population in the hives.
She says Varroa mites can be devastating to honeybee colonies.
“We’re dividing them up. So some will receive treatments for mites, and some of them won’t. So we can look to see what does the impact of mites have on these colonies,” Healy said.
Healy says it’s important to protect the bee population because one out of every three bites of food we eat relies on bees for pollination. She says the mites also transmit pathogens to the bees, and they’ll study the effects of those diseases, like the deformed wing virus.
“So not only are they impacted by the mites themselves feeding on the immature bees, but they’re also indirectly impacted by the pathogens they’re transmitting as well,” Healy said.
Healy says they also want to study movement as a stressor. She says beekeepers move their colonies around the country for pollination services every year, including almond pollination in California. She says researches will look at stress physiology in the bees after these migrations.
“How does that impact the physiology of the bee itself, so things like its ability to store fat to keep it warm in the winter, for example,” Healy said.
The AgCenter’s $935,000 grant is one of seven handed out to universities to study pollinators.