Elina L. Niño is an Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension in Apiculture, UC ANR UCCE located in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis. Through her extension activities, Dr. Niño works to support beekeepers and the beekeeping industry. Her lab offers a variety of beekeeping courses and educational opportunities for beekeepers, future beekeepers and the general public. Dr. Niño’s research interests encompass basic and applied approaches to understanding and improving honey bee health and particularly honey bee queen health. Ongoing research projects include understanding the synergistic effects of pesticides on queen health and adult workers in order to improve beekeeping management practice, as well as testing novel biopesticides for efficacy against varroa mites. If you would like to learn more about the E. L. Niño Bee Lab, you can visit: http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/.

What Makes a Queen Tick: Factors affecting honey bee queen post-mating changes

Mating is an intricate process that causes many changes on behavioral, physiological, and molecular level in females of sexually-reproducing species. Understanding insect reproduction is critical for both basic and applied research. Revealing factors and molecular mechanisms that regulate reproductive processes provides insights into regulation of insect reproduction which is crucial for breeding advancement of beneficial insects such as pollinators. Previous studies on honey bees suggest that insemination volume and seminal fluid components both play a role in triggering queen post-mating changes. However, the long-term effects of these factors have not been previously characterized. By manipulating the mating process, factors (e.g., seminal fluid components, seminal volume) that cause immediate behavioral changes and long-term physiological and molecular changes were examined in queens that reached their final reproductive state of high ovary activation. Results of these studies indicate that seminal volume stimulates ovary activation while seminal fluid components play a role in maintaining long-term physiological and transcriptional changes. Mating also causes changes in production of queen pheromones which are important for regulating the behavior and physiology of workers and therefore social organization within the colony. Current work is elucidating molecular evolution of seminal fluid proteins and their role in triggering specific post-mating changes.

 

Biomiticides for Varroa Mite Management

Varroa mites are still one of the primary causes of colony loss worldwide. Development of resistance to available synthetic miticides and a relatively narrow availability of other varroa mite management tools calls for efforts to develop novel options for varroa control. For the past two years we have been field testing efficacy of several new or improved biopesticides for varroa mite management. Thus far we have confirmed potential  effectiveness of at least five novel products or products novel to the US market, as well as improved previously available treatments. In addition to varroa mite infestation levels, possible negative effects on colony growth, and survivorship and queen events have been monitored. Laboratory studies are also underway to determine efficacy and toxicity limits for a modified  essential oil molecule which will be field tested next year.