BATON ROUGE, La. — Two Louisiana State University researchers are getting nearly $1 million for a two-year study of how mite treatment and stress affect honeybee health.
Kristen Healy and Daniel Swale are working with U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers in Baton Rouge and the nation’s largest beekeeper, the LSU AgCenter said in a news release Thursday.
They’ll be studying 400 hives of honeybees owned by Adee Honey Farms of Bruce, South Dakota, including some that are moved to California for the fall almond harvest and then to Mississippi for the winter.
Healy said they will sample pollen, nectar and bees from hives during and at the end of the study.
“We can look at which colonies failed and which ones didn’t and quantify which stress variables were more important to the relative health of the bees,” Healy said.
LSU is getting $935,000. It’s among seven universities getting a total of $6.8 million from the USDA to study pollinators.
Healy will see how bees treated with a mite control product compare to untreated bees.
Swale will study whether the moves make them spend more energy, reducing their fat storage — and if there’s a way to boost those fats.
The researchers also are interested how a virus that causes deformed wings is spread.
The grant also includes an extension component so the researchers can determine the best methods to get bee health information to beekeepers and the public.
The USDA estimates honeybees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops.