Dr. Olav Rueppell (Biology) received funding from Project Apis m. for the project “Understanding Semiochemicals as Tools for Natural Varroa Control.” The continuing honey bee health crisis demands research that facilitates sustainable beekeeping solutions. In a two-pronged approach, he and his team propose to study semiochemical signals that may be used in biocontrol of the Varroa mite, an ectoparasitic mite that is considered the most severe threat to honey bee health. They will study stimuli that attract mites and could thus be developed into an active trap for mites. And they will continue their studies of cuticular hydrocarbons that elicit hygienic removal of Varroa-infected brood, a key natural defense of honey bees that interrupts the Varroa reproductive cycle.
Additionally, Rueppell received funding from Project Apis m. for the project “Comparative Characterization of Virus Content and Resistance in Genetic Lines of US Honey Bees.” Honey bees are threatened, primarily by the Varroa mite and associated viruses, the abstract notes. However, little is known about honey bee virus interactions and current breeding efforts to improve honey bee health neglect virus resistance. His team will test the viral content and virus resistance of different US honey bee genetic lines to inform the apicultural practices of queen breeding and requeening colonies from different stocks.