Researchers and Research Plan

Plans and Procedures

This project will be headed by Dr. Heather Gamper, an active beekeeper and geographer trained at Florida State University, and former president of the Apalachee Beekeepers Association.  Tony Hogg and Lisa Lazarus of the same Association will be involved in fund raising and helping coordinate volunteer participants.  The research committee at the moment consists of Dr. Gamper, Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford (Professor Emeritus University of Florida), Dr. Jason Blackburn (Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida), Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk (Professor Emeritus University of Montana), Colin Henderson (College of Technology, The University of Montana) and David Wick, CEO of BVS, inc.  The initiative will also call on other interested scientists to help in the analysis of the information collected. 

The committee believes that a minimum of 60 samples collected in a limited geographic area will provide enough information to make a determination about the potential of a future, larger-scale project.  Geographic location of all samples will be recorded.  In addition to location information, beekeepers submitting samples will contribute descriptive information such as: apiary size, mite management, and queen source.

Samples will be collected at two points in time (Winter 2012 and Spring 2013) from the same group of beekeepers.   Older, long-lived bees appear to carry the majority of viruses at those times. Viruses harbored in Winter will be compared with those in the heavy brood-active, honey-making time periods of the spring. All samples in these two time periods will be collected from the 60 beekeepers within one week’s time. Project volunteers will help coordinate the collection and shipping of samples in the most efficient way possible to BVS, inc. for testing.

When viral/Nosema results are returned to the participating beekeepers, follow up questions will be asked on the fate of the hive condition from where samples were collected.  This information will include items such as brood frame counts and honey weight to gain information on how viral loads may interact with colony performance.  The results of this effort will be submitted to beekeeping journals and shared with the apicultural and larger scientific community.