He is currently with Bayer CropScience in Research Triangle Park, NC. His role at BCS is to plan and coordinate bee studies, continue honey bee health investigations and research, contribute to finding solutions to bee health issues, and to be an internal and external resource on pollination and apiculture.
He has traveled much of North American conducting studies on bee health and he shared with us some of his research findings over the years. He prefers the term MVCAS over CCD when attempting to explain colony loss, MVCAS stands for Multiple and Various Causative Agents Syndrome. His research considers the many variables of what can cause colonies to ‘mysteriously’ fail. These losses cannot be contributed to one single event, disease or pest. It is the combination of these factors in relation to the existing health of the hive that gives us the answers to MVCAS.
He has created a fairly accurate mortality predictor based on a bee health rating system that he developed. This system considers the needs of the bees and the factors that affect them. Bee needs are food (water, protein and carbohydrates), shelter and safety and the factors that can affect bee health are environmental, management and in-hive issues. Having an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) system focused on what he has coined as the 3M’s is key to the survival of our bees.
- Monitoring – must be done consistently and for many things
- Management – of the bees needs for food, shelter and safety
- Mite Control – specifically Varroa. Some research studies suggest that honey bee brood development is taking longer than normal. Because Varroa reproduces on the honey bee brood, this slowing down of development gives new mites more time to develop to maturity and therefore may be contributing to more rapid build up of Varroa populations in some hives.
See an example bee health rating in the illustrations below.
These results represent a control group from one of his studies. Most of us understand that good bee health is critically important as we get closer to fall. But seeing the information presented in this way clearly shows just how important a consistently followed IPM program is to the survival of our bees.
With a 50-60% winter loss being the average, Dick stated that colonies will only survive if well managed. Well said Dick, well said.