Dr. Adam Dolezal from Iowa State University's Department of Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Biology will be presenting this research as a part of the spring semester seminar series. The seminar will be located in E164 Lagomarcino Hall.
Abstract: Honey bees are exposed to a variety of environmental stressors that impact their health. While important individually, these factors likely interact to produce the greatest effects. Of particular interest is the interaction between nutritional stress and viral infection. When honey bees are starved of pollen, or receive pollen from a single plant source, their lifespan and immune functions decrease. Changes in landscape usage have decreased the variety of pollen forage available to honey bees, making this a particularly pertinent issue. Viral pathogens, especially Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), have also been implicated in honey bee losses, including symptomatic Colony Collapse Disorder, though neither viruses nor nutrition fully explain this problem. Thus, the interaction between nutritional deprivation and viral infection is an important question in honey bee health. We have performed experiments at several levels to better understand these factors. At the bee level, we studied small groups of bees exposed to viruses and variable pollen diets in the laboratory. At the hive level, we scaled these experiments up into small hives, providing similar treatments in semi-field conditions. We also investigated the landscape level, performing a survey of bee hives across Iowa to compare how bee health correlates with landscape use surrounding the hive. In addition, we also performed an experiment looking at how field-relevent levels of insecticide contamination in pollen could affect bee health and lifespan. Our results underline the complexity of interactions that occur to affect honey bee health and provide new data on how bee nutrition is of extreme importance.