Student Research

Determining the Prevalence of the Fungal Parasite, Nosema, in the European Honey Bee in Managed and Feral Hives

Approximately one-third of all commercially consumed agricultural crops require honey bee pollination to produce crops. Due to the heavy reliance on honey bee pollination in agriculture, honey bee health is a priority. Managed honey bees undergo additional stresses when comparing honey bees found in a feral setting. These factors include being shipped and living in honey bee boxes, varying weather conditions in field and travel settings, and increased exposure to pesticides. Because of this, honey bees in managed setting are thought to differ in the prevalence of Nosema, a fungal parasite and recent concern in honey bee health. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the prevalence of Nosema between treatments of managed and feral hives. Honey bees were collected by sweep net from three managed hives and two feral hives found in Southern California beginning in the Winter 2012 to Summer 2013. Feral honey bees were collected from hives found in natural settings, which foraged near the feral hive on flowering plants. Managed honey bees were collected from agricultural field sites, which had honey bee boxes. Once collected, midguts of the honey bees were examined under a microscope after staining with Giemsa stain. Preliminary results show an average prevalence of 4.3% in honey bees found in both managed and feral hives sampled. Additional data are needed to determine whether management of honey bee causes a difference in the prevalence of Nosema.

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