Welcoming our Summer Students!

Thursday 19 May 2022

This week we are excited to introduce two new members to the team! ATTTA welcomes John MacDonald and Rebecca Campbell, who will be assisting us this year with new and continued research projects. Read on as we introduce our new members as well as some of our plans for the summer, including research on Varroa mite treatment and honeybee pollination of wild blueberry fields. 

Welcoming our Summer Students!

John MacDonald

John currently lives in Pleasant Valley, Nova Scotia, and has completed four years of Dalhousie University’s Plant Science Degree program, with honors, and is working towards certificates in Organic Agriculture and Integrated Pest Management. John is currently working on his thesis project in collaboration with the ATTTA, and Dr. Chris Cutler in the entomology lab at Dalhousie to measure the efficacy of Apivar and ApiLife Var against Varroa mites in commercial beekeeping operations in the Maritime provinces.

Varroa mites are a major issue throughout Canada (excluding Newfoundland), exacerbating the spread of viruses and overwintering losses of honey bees. There is only one reliable chemical treatment, ApiVar, used to control this parasite in Canada, but there has been a rising concern brought to the attention of ATTTA and the Canadian Honey Council (CHC) from beekeepers across Canada that Varroa mites are becoming resistant to ApiVar.

 Alternative control methods for Varroa mites are needed to slow the development of mite resistance to the synthetic treatments. ApiLife Var is a formulation of essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, levomenthol, camphor, and thymol, that was licensed in Canada in 2020. Essential oils have more variability in efficacy than synthetic chemicals, due to environmental conditions, so it is important to test these products in our Maritime climate. To date, no research has been done.

With the cooperation of commercial beekeepers who provide honey bees for blueberry pollination in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, John and rest of the team at ATTTA will carry out miticide efficacy testing during the 2022 beekeeping season. This will provide valuable information on Varroa populations that may be resistant to ApiVar and for use of ApiLife Var as an alternative control method.

 Rebecca Campbell

Rebecca is a new member of the team and will be joining us for this year’s wild blueberry and honeybee research. She is 22 and a fifth-year Dalhousie student studying Bio-veterinary Science and hoping to pursue a career in apiculture research. Four years ago, Rebecca moved to Nova Scotia from Ontario. She has been fortunate to meet many new friends and family here and has built a great life. After traveling up and down this province and seeing many beautiful things, she plans to stay in Nova Scotia and make it home.

Our new summer student, Rebecca Campbell.

Rebecca will assist in a continued pollination study, this year measuring the effects of sequential loading and hive rotation on the pollination success of wild blueberry fields. Blueberry farmers all over Atlantic Canada have generously agreed to collaborate with the Atlantic Tech Transfer Team of Apiculture, allowing us to observe over a dozen fields throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. These fields will be visited multiple times this season to collect data on the growth of the wild blueberry crop regarding sequential loading methods. The overall goal of this trial is to optimize wild blueberry pollination and determine the most beneficial way for sequential loading. During this project, the effect of hive strength on pollination will be observed to gather comprehensive data on how the strength of a hive can affect the pollination of wild blueberry fields. Another project this season will observe honeybees’ nutritional state during wild blueberry pollination. This continued project will look closely at the pollen collected from select hives to determine the species of plants the pollen is being collected from.

By the end of this 2022 season, we will have collected data on multiple projects regarding the honeybee pollination of wild blueberry fields across the Atlantic provinces. This data will help us understand more beneficial methods and techniques for the apiculture and agriculture industries.  

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