A task force has been established with representation from the departments of agriculture, state beekeeping organizations, and land-grant universities from each of the following states: New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania West Virginia, and Virginia. Also participating in the task force is a representative of the USDA/ARS (Beltsville Bee Lab, MD).
The 16-member MAAREC Task Force meets twice annually to identify research and extension priorities for apiculture in the Mid-Atlantic Region, review proposals, monitor progress, and assist specialists in obtaining funding for apiculture extension and research efforts.
The focus of MAAREC research has been on the identification of alternatives to chemical controls and promotion of less reliance on chemical pesticides for mite control. Included is research of integrated approaches to reduce mite pressure and development of an economic injury level (threshold) for fall mite control within an IPM framework. Sampling method efficacy for measuring mite numbers in bee colonies is also a high priority. Research objectives take into consideration apiary inspector and beekeeper input through the MAAREC Task Force and the use of tools such as beekeeper surveys to identify the most effective ways to assist beekeepers in understanding and making sound management decisions for mite and disease control.
An integral part of this regional effort is timely delivery of IPM-based management. Providing beekeepers with the knowledge and tools necessary to adopt and successfully implement IPM strategies is a necessity toward developing IPM management practices for mite pest control. The extension focus is on improving information transfer through a mix of traditional and innovative methods and a consolidation of apiculture extension in the five Mid-Atlantic states into a region-wide program.
New publications and/or decision support tools specific to the adoption and implementation of IPM for honey bee mites and diseases are anticipated. New and updated materials generated to support an IPM approach to honey bee parasite and disease management are made available free of charge to participating MAAREC state beekeeping associations, county cooperative extension offices and apiary inspection services. A new “train-the-trainers” beekeeping training manual provides an outline resource to assist beekeeping short course instructors/presenters with outlines of information appropriate in honey bee management instruction. All materials are used in IPM training workshops and for in-service training of state apiary inspectors and county extension agents along with beekeepers and growers at short courses.
Since its establishment in late 1997, MAAREC has had several significant achievements in apiculture research and extension. On the research front, the group has received funding for several research projects (including Fund for Rural America and P-MAP grants). Extension accomplishments include the development of a regional newsletter (Bee Aware), an extensive web site, several publications, a video on varroa mite biology and control, two slide sets on honey bee maladies, and software on honey bee management and disease control.