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August 27, 2014 - ABJ Extra

National Honey Board Accepting Bee Research Proposals

 
Firestone, Colo., Aug. 25, 2014 – The National Honey Board is requesting proposals for research dealing with honey bee colony production.

The goal of this research is to help producers maintain colony health while assuring the maintenance of honey quality.  The NHB is encouraging proposals on Varroa research, but will consider proposals dealing with  Acarapis woodi, Nosema ceranae, and small hive beetle; the investigation into the causes and controls of Colony Collapse Disorder; and honey bee nutrition, immunology, and longevity.

The NHB is open to projects that find new methods of maintaining health, as well as those that combine current methods to increase efficacy rates.  Other projects will be considered and research outside the U.S. is possible.

The amount of funds available for a particular proposal will depend on the number and merit of proposals finally accepted.  The funds will be available for approved projects for the duration of the calendar year 2015 and may be carried into early 2016 if necessary; the duration of projects being funded should generally not exceed 12 months.

Proposals must be received at the National Honey Board office by 5:00p.m. Mountain Time, November 17, 2014.  Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered. Instructions on how to submit a research proposal may be found on the NHB website at www.honey.com.

The National Honey Board is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs.

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August 24, 2014 - ABJ Extra

Evolutionary History of Honeybees Revealed by Genomics


 
New findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic
diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most
probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as
previously thought. (Credit Alex Hayward)

In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is of crucial importance for humanity. One-third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Extensive losses of honeybee colonies in recent years are a major cause for concern. Honeybees face threats from disease, climate change, and management practices. To combat these threats it is important to understand the evolutionary history of honeybees and how they are adapted to different environments across the world.

"We have used state-of-the-art high-throughput genomics to address these questions, and have identified high levels of genetic diversity in honeybees. In contrast to other domestic species, management of honeybees seems to have increased levels of genetic variation by mixing bees from different parts of the world. The findings may also indicate that high levels of inbreeding are not a major cause of global colony losses", says Matthew Webster, researcher at the department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University. Another unexpected result was that honeybees seem to be derived from an ancient lineage of cavity-nesting bees that arrived from Asia around 300,000 years ago and rapidly spread across Europe and Africa. This stands in contrast to previous research that suggests that honeybees originate from Africa.

"The evolutionary tree we constructed from genome sequences does not support an origin in Africa, this gives us new insight into how honeybees spread and became adapted to habitats across the world", says Matthew Webster.

Hidden in the patterns of genome variation are signals that indicate large cyclical fluctuations in population size that mirror historical patterns of glaciation. This indicates that climate change has strongly impacted honeybee populations historically. "Populations in Europe appear to have contracted during ice ages whereas African populations have expanded at those times, suggesting that environmental conditions there were more favorable", says Matthew Webster.

The researchers also identified specific mutations in genes important in adaptation to factors such as climate and pathogens, including those involved in morphology, behavior and innate immunity.

"The study provides new insights into evolution and genetic adaptation, and establishes a framework for investigating the biological mechanisms behind disease resistance and adaptation to climate, knowledge that could be vital for protecting honeybees in a rapidly changing world", says Matthew Webster.