According to the current state of science, bee viruses such as the Deformed Wing Virus and the Acute Bee Paralysis Virus are jointly responsible for high winter losses. However, other viruses, such as the Sacbrood Virus or the Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus, are also a major problem for bee colonies. Unfortunately, we currently only have limited knowledge about the occurrence and frequency of these bee viruses in Austria. Up to now, virus tests have usually only been carried out when damage to the colony has already occurred. Research results from the USA and European neighbouring countries showed that many viruses occur just as frequently in inconspicuously appearing colonies as in clearly damaged ones.
Goal of the project
Within the framework of "Future of Honey Bees" an overview of the frequency of three bee viruses in Austria has already been gained. This knowledge will be deepened in an Austrian virus monitoring of AGES lasting several years and the examination spectrum will be extended by four more viruses. Vetmeduni Wien will test innovative approaches to improve virus diagnostics in honey bees. To date, viral infections in honey bees have been diagnosed by the detection of viral material using "polymerase chain reaction" (PCR). These PCR test procedures are very complex and expensive and only ever detect one virus species. The aim of the module is therefore to develop a virus test that detects viral antigens (proteins). The test methods to be developed are inexpensive and can be automated, so that beekeepers will be able to test the health of their colonies and react to the virus infestation with targeted measures without great financial expense. The University of Graz will continue the COLOSS study on winter losses in Austria. With the conclusion of "Zukunft Biene 2", 14 years of uninterrupted winter loss data will be available from which important conclusions can be drawn about trends and cycles. In addition, important questions regarding the economic significance of winter losses, methods of winter loss collection and the problems and expectations of young beekeepers will be scientifically dealt with.
Research topic: Bee health
Acronym: Future of Honey Bees 2 - Basic research project for the promotion of bee protection and bee health
Project duration: 12/2017 to 09/2021
Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Karl Crailsheim, University of Graz
Project consortium: Karl-Franzens-University Graz (Institute of Zoology), University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Institute of Virology), AGES - Österreichische Agentur für Gesundheit und Ernährungssicherheit GmbH (Department of Apiculture and Bee Protection, Department of Molecular Biology, Department of Statistics)
Project funding: Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism (BMNT), Federal Provinces and Beekeepers' Umbrella Association Austria as well as own funds of the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, the Veterinary University Vienna and the AGES