Special Issue "Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Aleš Gregorc
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Maribor, Slovenia
Interests: honey bee; insect toxicology; cell biology; varroa; queen rearing; bee breeding

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Managed honey bees are subject to numerous internal and external pressures, including exposure to various pathogens, lack of diversity of food sources, and management problems. Bees are exposed to agrochemicals and a variety of stressors that act in isolation or, more often, in combination. Our understanding of the mechanisms, their interactions, and interpretation of factors that reduce honey bee vitality or even bee deaths needs intensive studies. The presenting biology of colony health and effected mechanisms caused by stress factors and their interactions are important objectives to be presented in this Special Issue of Diversity. Furthermore, the studies presented in this Special Issue of Diversity will be targeted at honey bees as individual or social organisms responding to a variety of pathogens causing American and European foulbroods, varroosis, mycosis, and other diseases. Factors such as environment stressors, honey bee colony management, and beekeeping practices also factor in colonies’ survival and the subject of a variety of studies and are welcomed for publication. Attention will be also given to the effects of pesticides on bees and their survival.

In this Diversity Special Issue entitled “Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses", we encourage researchers to present new studies of nature, mechanisms, and relative importance of the potential factors in the recent losses in the beekeeping sector. The apparent lack of reliable and comparable experimental laboratory and field data on honey bee colony losses may encourage researchers to perform and publish new studies of the factors, their synergistic interactions, and mechanisms contributing to colony losses worldwide.

Prof. Aleš Gregorc
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Honey bee diseases
  • Stressors
  • Pathology
  • Honey bee mortalities
  • Colonies management

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring the Field-Realistic Exposure of Honeybee Colonies to Neonicotinoids by An Integrative Approach: A Case Study in Romania
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010024 - 06 Jan 2020
Abstract
Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) are excellent biosensors that can be managed to collect valuable information about environmental contamination. The main objective of the present study was to design and apply an integrative protocol to monitor honeybee colony activity and sample collection by [...] Read more.
Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) are excellent biosensors that can be managed to collect valuable information about environmental contamination. The main objective of the present study was to design and apply an integrative protocol to monitor honeybee colony activity and sample collection by using electronic technologies combined with classical methods in order to evaluate the exposure of honeybees to the neonicotinoids that are used in melliferous intensive crops. The monitored honeybee colonies were especially prepared and equipped to maximize their chances to collect representative samples in order to express, as well as possible, the pesticide residues that existed in the targeted crops. The samples of honey, pollen and honeybees were collected, preserved and prepared to fulfill the required quality and quantity criteria of the accredited laboratories. In total, a set of fifty samples was collected from fields, located in different areas of intensive agriculture in Romania, and was analyzed for five neonicotinoids. The obtained results show that 48% of the total analyzed samples (n = 50) contained one or more detected or quantified neonicotinoid residues. The main conclusion is that the proposed approach for sample collection and preparation could improve the evaluation methodologies for analyzing honeybees’ exposure to pesticides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Open AccessArticle
Hydroxymethylfurfural Affects Caged Honey Bees (Apis mellifera carnica)
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010018 - 31 Dec 2019
Abstract
A high concentration of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) (e.g., 15 mg HMF per kg honey) indicates quality deterioration for a wide range of foods. In honey bee colonies, HMF in stored honey can negatively affect bee health and survival. Therefore, in the laboratory, we experimentally [...] Read more.
A high concentration of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) (e.g., 15 mg HMF per kg honey) indicates quality deterioration for a wide range of foods. In honey bee colonies, HMF in stored honey can negatively affect bee health and survival. Therefore, in the laboratory, we experimentally determined the effects of HMF on the longevity and midgut integrity of worker Apis mellifera carnica by feeding bees standard diets containing five concentrations of HMF (100, 500, 1000, and 1500 ppm). Simultaneously, we also examined HMF’s effect on Nosema ceranae spore counts within infected honey bees. We performed an immunohistochemical analysis of the honey bee midgut to determine possible changes at the cellular level. No correlation was established between HMF concentration and N. ceranae spore counts. Negative effects of HMF on bees were not observed in the first 15 days of exposure. However, after 15 to 30 days of exposure, HMF caused midgut cells to die and an increased mortality of honey bee workers across treatment groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Open AccessArticle
A Survey from 2015 to 2019 to Investigate the Occurrence of Pesticide Residues in Dead Honeybees and Other Matrices Related to Honeybee Mortality Incidents in Italy
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010015 - 27 Dec 2019
Abstract
Honeybee health can be compromised not only by infectious and infesting diseases, but also by the acute or chronic action of certain pesticides. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of colony mortality by Italian beekeepers, but the investigations of these losses [...] Read more.
Honeybee health can be compromised not only by infectious and infesting diseases, but also by the acute or chronic action of certain pesticides. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of colony mortality by Italian beekeepers, but the investigations of these losses have been inconsistent, both in relation to the type of personnel involved (beekeepers, official veterinarians, members of the police force, etc.) and the procedures utilized. It was therefore deemed necessary to draw up national guidelines with the aim of standardizing sampling active ties. In this paper, we present the results of a survey carried out in Italy from 2015 to 2019, following these guidelines. Residues of 150 pesticides in 696 samples were analyzed by LC-MS/MS and GC-MS/MS. On average, 50% of the honeybee samples were positive for one or more pesticides with an average of 2 different pesticides per sample and a maximum of seven active ingredients, some of which had been banned in Europe or were not authorized in Italy. Insecticides were the most frequently detected, mainly belonging to the pyrethroid group (49%, above all tau-fluvalinate), followed by organophosphates (chlorpyrifos, 18%) and neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, 7%). This work provides further evidence of the possible relationship between complex pesticide exposure and honeybee mortality and/or depopulation of hives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Open AccessArticle
Control of Varroa destructor Mite Infestations at Experimental Apiaries Situated in Croatia
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010012 - 25 Dec 2019
Abstract
Experimental varroacidal treatments of honey bee colonies were conducted on five apiaries (EA1–EA5) situated at five different geographical and climatic locations across Croatia. The aim of this study was to assess the comparative efficacy of CheckMite+ (Bayer, Germany), Apiguard (Vita Europe Ltd.; England), [...] Read more.
Experimental varroacidal treatments of honey bee colonies were conducted on five apiaries (EA1–EA5) situated at five different geographical and climatic locations across Croatia. The aim of this study was to assess the comparative efficacy of CheckMite+ (Bayer, Germany), Apiguard (Vita Europe Ltd.; England), Bayvarol, C, (Bayer, Germany), Thymovar, (Andrma BioVet GmbH, Germany), and ApiLife Var, (Chemicals Laif SPA; Vigonza, Italy) for controlling the honey bee obligatory parasitic mite Varroa destructor in different conditions in the field during summer treatment. The relative varroa mite mortality after treatments with applied veterinary medicinal products were EA1 (59.24%), EA2 (47.31%), EA3 (36.75%), EA4 (48.33%), and EA5 (16.78%). Comparing the relative efficacy of applied varroacides, the best effect was achieved with CheckMite+, and the lowest for honey bee colonies treated with Apiguard (statistically significant difference was confirmed; p < 0.05). Considering the lower efficacy of thymol-based veterinary medicinal products observed on all EA in these study conditions, it may be concluded that their use is limited under different treatment regimes. Despite unfavourable weather and environmental conditions, with exceptions of EA5/EA5′ and EA1, the relative varroacidal efficacy of authorized veterinary medicinal product treatments in moderately infested honey bee colonies ensured normal overwintering and colony development during next spring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Open AccessArticle
Population Growth and Insecticide Residues of Honey Bees in Tropical Agricultural Landscapes
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010001 - 18 Dec 2019
Abstract
Global decline of pollinators, especially bees, has been documented in many countries. Several causes such as land-use change and agricultural intensification are reported to be the main drivers of the decline. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of land [...] Read more.
Global decline of pollinators, especially bees, has been documented in many countries. Several causes such as land-use change and agricultural intensification are reported to be the main drivers of the decline. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of land use on honey bee and stingless bee populations. Research was conducted in Bogor and Malang to compare between two different geographical areas. Managed bees such as honey bees (Apis cerana and A. mellifera) and stingless bees (Tetragonula laeviceps) were investigated to examine the effect of agricultural intensification. Field experiments were conducted by placing beehives in selected habitats (i.e., beekeeper gardens, forests areas, and agriculture areas). Population growth and neonicotinoid residue analysis of bees in different hive locations were measured to study the effect of habitat type. Population growth of bees represents the forager abundance and colony weight. Based on the analysis, we found that habitat type affected forager abundance and colony weight of honey bees (p < 0.05), although the patterns were different between species, region, as well as season. Forests could support the stingless bee colony better than agriculture and home garden habitats. Insecticide (neonicotinoid) was barely recorded in both honey bees and stingless bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Impact of Stressors on Honey Bees (Apis mellifera; Hymenoptera: Apidae): Some Guidance for Research Emerge from a Meta-Analysis
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010007 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
Bees play an essential role in plant pollination and their decline is a threat to crop yields and biodiversity sustainability. The causes of their decline have not yet been fully identified, despite the numerous studies that have been carried out, especially on Apis [...] Read more.
Bees play an essential role in plant pollination and their decline is a threat to crop yields and biodiversity sustainability. The causes of their decline have not yet been fully identified, despite the numerous studies that have been carried out, especially on Apis mellifera. This meta-analysis was conducted to identify gaps in the current research and new potential directions for research. The aim of this analysis of 293 international scientific papers was to achieve an inventory of the studied populations, the stressors and the methods used to study their impact on Apis mellifera. It also aimed to investigate the stressors with the greatest impact on bees and explore whether the evidence for an impact varies according to the type of study or the scale of study. According to this analysis, it is important to identify the populations and the critical developmental stages most at risk, and to determine the differences in stress sensibility between subspecies. This meta-analysis also showed that studies on climate change or habitat fragmentation were lacking. Moreover, it highlighted that technical difficulties in the field and the buffer effect of the colony represent methodological and biological barriers that are still difficult to overcome. Mathematical modeling or radio frequency identification (RFID) chips represent promising ways to overcome current methodological difficulties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Open AccessReview
Vespa velutina: An Alien Driver of Honey Bee Colony Losses
Diversity 2020, 12(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12010005 - 20 Dec 2019
Abstract
Vespa velutina, or Asian yellow-legged hornet, was accidentally introduced from China to other parts of the world: South Korea in 2003, Europe in 2004, and Japan in 2012. V. velutina represents a serious threat to native pollinators. It is known to be [...] Read more.
Vespa velutina, or Asian yellow-legged hornet, was accidentally introduced from China to other parts of the world: South Korea in 2003, Europe in 2004, and Japan in 2012. V. velutina represents a serious threat to native pollinators. It is known to be a fierce predator of honey bees, but can also hunt wild bees, native wasps, and other flying insects. When V. velutina colonies are developed, many hornets capture foraging bees which are coming back to their hives, causing an increase in homing failure and paralysis of foraging thus leading to colony collapse. The hornets may enter weak beehives to prey on brood and pillage honey. Unlike Apis cerana, Apis mellifera is unable to cope with the predation pressure of V. velutina. Monitoring the spread of an invasive alien species is crucial to plan appropriate management actions and activities to limit the expansion of the species. In addition, an early detection of V. velutina in areas far away from the expansion front allows a rapid response aimed to remove these isolated populations before the settlement of the species. Where V. velutina is now established, control measures to prevent colony losses must be implemented with an integrated pest management approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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Open AccessReview
Diagnosis of Varroa Mite (Varroa destructor) and Sustainable Control in Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colonies—A Review
Diversity 2019, 11(12), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11120243 - 16 Dec 2019
Abstract
Determining varroa mite infestation levels in honey bee colonies and the proper method and time to perform a diagnosis are important for efficient mite control. Performing a powdered sugar shake or counting mites that drop from combs and bees onto a hive bottom [...] Read more.
Determining varroa mite infestation levels in honey bee colonies and the proper method and time to perform a diagnosis are important for efficient mite control. Performing a powdered sugar shake or counting mites that drop from combs and bees onto a hive bottom board are two reliable methods for sampling varroa mite to evaluate the efficacy of an acaricide treatment. This overview summarizes studies that examine the efficacy of organic acids and essential oils, mite monitoring, and brood interruption for integrated varroa mite control in organic beekeeping. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
Open AccessReview
Biotic and Abiotic Factors Associated with Colonies Mortalities of Managed Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Diversity 2019, 11(12), 237; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11120237 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Despite the presence of a large number of pollinators of flowering plants worldwide, the European honey bee, Apis melifera, plays the most important role in the pollination of a number of crops, including all vegetables, non-food crops and oilseed crops, decorative and [...] Read more.
Despite the presence of a large number of pollinators of flowering plants worldwide, the European honey bee, Apis melifera, plays the most important role in the pollination of a number of crops, including all vegetables, non-food crops and oilseed crops, decorative and medical plants, and others. The experience of isolated cases of complete extinction of honey bees in individual regions has shown that this phenomenon leads to a dramatic pollination crisis and reduced ability or even total inability to grow insect-pollinated crops if relying solely on native, naturally occurring pollinators. Current scientific data indicate that the global bee extinction between the Cretaceous and the Paleogene (Cretaceous-Tertiary) occurred, which led to the disappearance of flowers because they could not produce viable fruit and germinate due to lack of pollination by bees or other animals. From the Middle Ages to the present day, there has been evidence that honey bees have always overcome the adverse factors affecting them throughout the ages, after which their population has fully recovered. This fact must be treated with great care given the emergence of a new, widespread stress factor in the second half of the 20th century—intoxication of beehives with antibiotics and acaricides, and treatment of crops with pesticides. Along with acute and chronic intoxication of bees and bee products, there are other new major stressors of global importance reducing the number of bee colonies: widespread prevalence of pathogenic organisms and pest beetles, climate change and adverse climatic conditions, landscape changes and limitation of natural habitats, intensification of agricultural production, inadequate nutrition, and introduction of invasive species. This report summarizes the impact of individual negative factors on the health and behavior of bees to limit the combined effects of the above stressors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring of Honey Bee Colony Losses)
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