The royal treatment: improving honey bee queen health as the basis of integrated colony health

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $496,513
Commodity: Bees
Organization: University of Lethbridge
Investigator: Shelley Hoover

41% of Alberta beekeepers suffered colony winter losses in 2019/20.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Honey bees live in colonies headed by a single queen. This queen is the sole reproductive female, and the long-term survival of the colony depends on her ability to produce health offspring; queen health is therefore critical for colony success.

Beekeepers in Alberta have faced very high levels of colony winter loss and also have difficulty accessing quality imported queens.

While many biotic and abiotic stressors contribute to colony mortality, queen health has received little attention. This research will examine the linkages between queen health and colony success and the factors that mediate these relationships. Researchers will examine methods of requeening and storing locally bred queens.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This project will generate social, economic, and environmental benefits. Beekeepers will experience direct economic benefits by having the ability to better evaluate purchased queens, increase production of queens in their own operations, increase productivity, and decrease winter colony mortality from using healthier queens.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Findings will be shared with industry early-adopters to encourage adoption among the industry. Additionally, researchers will be working directly with the technology transfer team of the Alberta Beekeepers Association.

Research will generate scientific publications, presentations, and articles.