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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seminar: Dr. Dennis vanEnglesdorp, "The Bee Informed Partnership: use of epidemiological methods to reduce colony losses"

The Bee Informed Partnership is a NIFA funded 5 year extension project that endeavors to decrease the number of honey bee colonies that die over the winter. One core component of the project involves conducting surveys that document both beekeeper losses and management practices. Using epidemiological methods, we then compare the effectiveness of different management practices by calculating and comparing the losses suffered by those that did or did not use a particular management practice. The project proposes to motivate change in that we assume beekeepers, when presented with beekeeper-derived data that objectively show which management practices worked and which did not, will adopt the more successful practices. This, in turn, will reduce colony losses and increase the availability of pollinating units overall. Another important element of the program is the implementation of tech transfer teams that service queen producers and large migratory Midwest beekeeping operations. These teams regularly conduct survey work for participating beekeepers to evaluate potential breeder stock for disease levels and disease resistant traits. Colony evaluation metrics are then shared with participants, in a way that protects anonymity while encouraging breeder selection based on disease load information. Central to all of these efforts is the development of a honey bee health database. This database is being designed not only to house Bee Informed project data but also data derived from other projects such as the National Honey Bee Disease Survey, various longitudinal monitoring projects, and NASAs hive scale project. A basic project overview will be presented, with particular emphasis given to areas where the Bee Informed Partnership project could use help; specifically in the area of database governance, sustainability efforts, and process documentation.
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