Notes from Dewey – August 2023

by Dewey M. Caron, Communications and Content Specialist for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program

New virus discovered in honey bees

A metagenomic analysis of the virome of honey bees identified a novel positive-strand RNA virus. The virus was named Apis mellifera solinvivirus 1. It’s closest relative is in fire ants. The virus was initially sequenced from live worker honey bees collected from an Oregon beekeeper with a historically high level of colony losses in June 2018. This sampling was conducted by Ben Sallmann of the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), Tech Transfer program, who was working from the OSU Bee Lab at Oak Creek on the OSU campus until his transfer to the University of Minnesota last year. When IDed, honey bee pupae that were injected with this virus preparation were shown to replicate the virus within 3 days. Finding it in all 3 body regions of honey bees indicates that it causes systemic infection spreading to different organs and tissues.

An analysis of the geographic and historic distribution of the new virus was done using 930 APHIS National Honey Bee Disease Survey apiary-level samples from the survey years 2010, 2014, and 2021. In each apiary, 7 or 8 sampled colonies were combined. The virus was found in the earliest 2010 samples. An analysis of all apiaries sampled in 2021 (n = 794) showed that the virus is currently widespread in the United States.  This new virus, termed AmSV1 for short, was detected in 10.45% of apiaries sampled in June and July, mainly in the Pacific Northwest and Northeastern United States. Using an odds ratio test it did not appear that it might be transmitted by varroa, but queenless colonies did show higher virus incidence.

Ryabov, Eugene V. et al. 2023. Apis mellifera Solinvivirus-1, a Novel Honey Bee Virus That Remained Undetected for over a Decade, Is Widespread in the USA. Viruses 2023, 15, 1597.

Bee nutrition survey

Many of you will remember Dr. Priyadarshini Chakrabarti Basu. She was a postdoctoral student with Dr Ramesh Sagili before she took a new faulty position as Assistant Professor, Pollinator Health and Apiculture at Mississippi State University (she continues to hold a courtesy appointment with Horticulture Department (the Bee Lab) at OSU). Priya has the added task of being the North American chair of the Bee Nutrition Taskforce for COLOSS.

COLOSS (Prevention of honey bee COlony LOSSes) is an international, non-profit association headquartered in Bern, Switzerland that is focused on improving the well-being of bees at a global level. In her role with COLOSS, Priya is seeking basic information on beekeeper bee nutrition practices. The survey is asking about how beekeepers perceive colony feeding, solicitating ideas from beekeepers regarding when bees starve (the major nutritional stressors) and what might be a path forward for how beekeepers might address aspects of bee nutritional needs.  Weguelin

Would you like to contribute?  The survey closes November 1stSurvey link 

New children’s book published about honey bees

Dr. Chakrabarti has also published a new children’s book, written while she was in Oregon. The publisher is Neon Squid, a division of St Martin’s Press, handled in US by Macmillian press. The hardcover has 32 pages, including a glossary and index. There are sections on baby bees, members of a colony, dancing bees, making honey and protecting the honey bee, as well as others. The book is beautifully illustrated by Astrid Weguelin. The target youth audience is 5 to 8 years of age, although older kids might still find it of interest. .