Blueberry pollination and honey bee health in Canada

Guarna MM, Higo H, Foster LJ, McAfee A, Vinson B, Pettis JS, Pernal SF, Ibrahim A (2018) Blueberry pollination and honey bee health in Canada. 2018 Entomological Society of America, Entomological Society of Canada and Entomological Society of British Columbia Joint Annual Meeting, 11-14 Nov 2018, Vancouver, BC https://esa.confex.com/esa/2018/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/131608

Abstract

Blueberries are Canada’s top fruit export valued at over $400 million annually. In BC, the province with the largest production of cultivated (highbush) blueberries, crop productivity is dependent on the pollination service of managed honey bees. However, beekeepers are concerned about the poor health of their colonies and increased presence of disease after pollinating blueberries. These concerns are threatening the availability of colonies for pollination. In addition, when colonies returning from blueberry pollination have higher incidence of bacterial brood disease, they are treated with antibiotics which precludes their use for honey production. To investigate these concerns, we conducted a field experiment with five commercial co-operator beekeepers engaging in highbush blueberry pollination. We compared pollinating and non-pollinating colonies and evaluated the effect of protein supplementation on several aspects of colony health, including adult population, brood area, and presence of diseases. We will discuss risk factors to bee health in blueberry fields and management strategies to increase pollinator health.

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