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Better nutrition BEEing tested in the fight against Nosema 18 Jan 2016

One of the key recommendations for managing Nosema disease in bee hives is to improve nutrition in autumn, so bees are better able to handle infections through winter - but until now there hasn’t been a lot of research to back up its effectiveness.

Field trials aimed at addressing this issue are currently getting underway, with help from beekeepers in South Australia who plan to provide pollination services for the almond industry in spring.

The project is being led by John Roberts from CSIRO and funded by the Honey Bee and Pollination Program, a partnership between the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticultural Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) and the Australian Government.

Chair of the Program’s Advisory Panel, Michael Hornitzky, says Nosema is one of the most common and widespread of adult honeybee diseases.

“Beekeepers can tend to focus on visible problems like small hive beetle and American foulbrood, but fungal pathogens like Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae, which cause Nosema disease, are major contributors to global colony losses,” Dr Hornitzky said.

“Nosema levels continue to be high across Australia, particularly during late winter, and we need to improve our understanding of these pathogens so we can provide more evidence-based management options to beekeepers.

“This project will help us to determine whether additional pollen feeding of bees can reduce the rate of disease in hives in times of confinement, such as winter.”

Selected hives will receive supplementary pollen feeding between March and May 2016. Pathogen loads will be measured before and after treatment in autumn and again during almond pollination in August.

For more information about a variety of bee pathogens, including Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae, go to www.beeaware.org.au.

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