Understanding the linkage between floral resources and honey bee health and productivity on US Department of Agriculture conservation lands: A prairie pilot
Colony Collapse Disorder has resulted in widespread loss of US honey bee colonies and heightened societal concern over honey bee health and reduced pollination services for agricultural crops. The Farm Service Agency has expressed substantial interest in promoting habitat for honey bee colonies residing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands throughout the Great Plains. Our team will conduct a pilot study to develop methodologies for identifying specific plants that can be readily implemented into the CRP for improving pollinator health in North Dakota. This pilot will be used to establish comparable sampling efforts in other states and provide a baseline inventory of floral resources used by bees, and the relative contribution of those resources to honey bee immune system function, lipid storage, and hive weight gain. Once complete, the pilot will be used to inform the design of a study which will identify cost-effective planting mixes for forbs on conservation lands to enhance honey production and improve the health and fitness of honey bees. We expect to expand our research in FY 2014 into other states with a high concentration of CRP lands and commercial apiaries.
Clint R Otto
Matthew D Smart