Date of Graduation

12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Entomology (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Entomology

Advisor

Allen Szalanski

Committee Member

Donald Steinkraus

Second Committee Member

Jackie Lee

Keywords

Entomology, Honey Bee, Molecular Diagnostics, Parasite, Pathogen, Pests

Abstract

The health and viability of colonies of the honey bee, Apis mellifera, in the United States have fluctuated dramatically over the past decade. This poses a substantial threat to agricultural production in this country. Currently, no single factor has been identified for this decline. Rather, it has been suggested that the interaction between multiple biotic and abiotic stressors may be responsible. Among these factors are pesticides, habitat loss, climate and weather, parasites and pathogens, and colony management techniques. For this reason, it is important to examine the prevalence of honey bee parasite and pathogen infection at the state level in comparison to national survey data.

In the research described herein, molecular diagnostics were performed on worker honey bee samples from Arkansas hobbyist beekeepers and Oklahoma migratory beekeepers to detect the presence of the following A. mellifera pathogens and parasites: protozoans Nosema apis and N. ceranae; bacterial pathogens Spiroplasma apis and S. melliferum; Trypanosomatid parasites Crithidia mellificae and Lotmaria passim and the parasitic phorid fly Apocephalus borealis. A study including both migratory honey bee colonies and hobbyist managed colonies provides a more comprehensive distribution of where these parasite and pathogen species are occurring and potentially why they are occurring.

The study determined that N. ceranae (H=11.6%, M=27.6), L. passim (H=11.3%, M=1.1%), and V. destructor (H=45.5%, M=17.2%), occur in both hobbyist and migratory managed colonies. Nosema ceranae was more prevalent in the migratory colonies than the hobbyist colonies. Spiroplasma was also detected in the Oklahoma migratory colony samples (8.05%), but not in the Arkansas hobbyist colonies. Both V. destructor and L. passim were more prevalent in the hobbyist managed colonies. This research resulted in the first detection of Lotmaria passim in Arkansas honey bees, as well as the first documented detection of L. passim and S. melliferum in Oklahoma. Apocephalus borealis, C. mellificae, N. apis, and S. apis were not detected in either the migratory nor the hobbyist colonies. This study compares honey bee management practices at the hobbyist and migratory level to better understand how management influences parasite and pathogen spread and abundance. The use of state-level surveys, when examining parasite and pathogen occurrence, allows for a better understanding of how these pests are spreading, as well as how quickly and by what means.

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