Beekeeper stewardship, colony loss, and Varroa destructor management
Varroa (Varroa destructor) is a leading cause of honey bee mortality worldwide. In a U.S. national survey of beekeepers, 3519 respondents noted what they believe are the advantages and disadvantages of managing for Varroa, what good stewardship means in beekeeping, and whether they treated for Varroa. Dominant attitudes were keeping bees healthy, minimizing disturbance, and monitoring hives. We found a bifurcation in Varroa management beliefs. Decision tree analyses show group distinctions. Treatment Skeptics tend to say that stewardship means bees should not be disturbed or subjected to chemicals, and should be given forage to do their ‘normal business.’ This group was less likely to treat for Varroa. Treatment Adherents identify themselves as bee stewards and say stewardship means active hive management and keeping bees healthy and alive. Illuminating beekeeper stewardship is essential for a socioecological understanding of how to address challenging Varroa management and complex human–environmental production systems that have landscape-level effects.
KeywordsColony loss Decision-trees Honey bee health Stewardship Varroa management
This study is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award # 20166800424832 as well as Kristen C. Nelson’s research by NIFA McIntire-Stennis 1000343 MIN-42-069. We thank the Nelson Lab for manuscript review—Michael Barnes and Hannah Ramer. As Minnesota Co-PI lead, Dr. Marla Spivak provided support in numerous ways.
- Darnhofer, I., and P. Walder. 2014. Farmer types and motivation. In Encyclopedia of food and agricultural ethics, ed. P.B. Thompson and D.M. Kaplan, 710–715. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Leopold, A. 1949. A Sand County almanac, and sketches here and there. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Morse, R.A., and N.W. Calderone. 2000. The value of honey bees as pollinators of U.S. Crops in 2000. Bee Culture 128: 2–15.Google Scholar
- Nordhaus, H. 2010. The beekeeper’s lament: How one man and half a billion honey bees help feed America. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
- Spivak, M. S., Z. Browning, M. Goblirsch, K. Lee, C. R. Otto, M. Smart and J. Wu-Smart. 2017. Why does bee health matter? The science surrounding honey bee health concerns and what we can do about it. 1-16.Google Scholar
- Suryanarayanan, S., and D.L. Kleinman. 2017. Vanishing bees: Science, politics, and honeybee health. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- vanEngelsdorp, D., R. Underwood, D. Caron, and J. Hayes. 2007. An estimate of managed colony losses in the winter of 2006–2007: A report commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America. American Bee Journal 147: 599–603.Google Scholar
- vanEngelsdorp, D., D. Caron, J. Hayes, R. Underwood, M. Henson, K. Rennich, A. Spleen, M. Andree, et al. 2012. A national survey of managed honey bee 2010–2011 winter colony losses in the USA: Results from the bee informed partnership. Journal of Apicultural Research 51: 115–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar