Honey Bee Viruses

Impact of viruses and poor nutrition on honey bee health

Honey bees and native bees play a pivotal role in agricultural pollination. Recent declines in honey bee populations, particularly from Colony Collapse Disorder, have been linked to changing land use and a decrease in bee nutritional resources. In collaboration with Dr. Amy Toth and Dr. W. Allen Miller, we are surveying honey bee colonies in Iowa for the presence of the myriad viruses that afflict the honey bee in relation to abundance in different habitats.

With funding from USDA NIFA, we are also using an integrative approach combining virology, physiology, genomics and behavioral studies to test the hypothesis that a combination of nutritional stress and infection with multiple viruses leads to colony abandonment by worker bees.