Honey Bee Health

Pivotal to a flourishing and economically sustainable honeybee industry is the availability of healthy bee stock, which has largely been taken for granted in Australia. Bee health is in decline globally, including Australia, mainly due to spreading parasites, agricultural pesticide exposure and inferior beekeeping practices. Minimal veterinary research into bee health has resulted in a lack of reliable treatment options to restore compromised bee health. Consequently, tools of integrative bee pest management are needed as a matter of urgency. Any treatments developed will also need to minimize health risks for consumers. This programme will work towards future-proofing the bee. By establishing an international network, the CRC will develop a catalogue of disease markers and build the capacity to translate these against diseases not yet present in Australia.

The CRC is recruiting post graduates to work within four key programs.  If you are a PhD student and wish to learn more about Honey Bee Health project work click here.

  • Validation of immune response protein markers. Nosema apis an Australian-wide fungal pest, will be used as a system example.
  • Protein markers quantified after breeding from seemingly Nosema – tolerant and -susceptible bees. Bees validated for their resistance and correlation to protein markers.
  • Establishment of international collaborations to test makers in other diseases and enhance markers in current bee stock (cross breeding)
  • Optimisation and validation of PCR conditions and primers for a range of bee diseases: DWV, AFB, Nosema sp., EFB*, small hive beetle and Varroa mite for Australia
  • Correlation of external factors with honey bee disease status such as hive humidity, air profile, vibrations (sound), brood and honey floral source and their validation as an indicator of honey bee health
  • Service to industry translated through commercial partnerships. Enhance existing information (DAFWA, Hort Guard, Plant Health) provided to the industry
  • Markers identified for nutritional status of bees (protein content, fat content, amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, peptides) and analysis of molecular data (complements P1 Output 2; P2 Output 1)
  • Impact of hive nourishment on bee health determined (disease and nutritional status and colony performance) through floral source, climatic conditions and supplemental feeding.
  • Hygienic behaviour of bee hives quantified and correlated using chemical biomarkers (P3,Output 2.1) and molecular markers (P3, Output 1)
  • Impact of bee gut flora on bee health determined and a product developed to maintain bee hive health.