International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Assessing honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony densities at landscape scales

Author(s):
Patsavee Utaipanon, Patsavee Utaipanon , Michael J. Holmes , Gabriele Buchmann , Benjamin P. Oldroyd
Institution(s):
School of Life and Environmental Science, The University of Sydney; School of Life and Environmental Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Robust estimates of honey bee population densities are crucial for the successful management of agricultural pollination services, control of feral bees in conservation areas and biosecurity response planning. However, honey bee colonies are cryptic and physically locating them over landscape scales is not feasible. Indirect estimation of colony densities by Williams drone trap is an effective, practical technique. It works by attracting male honey bees (drones) over long distances using queen pheromone lures held aloft by a helium balloon. Sampled drones are then genotyped in order to infer the number of unique colonies that contributed trapped drones. The density of colonies per square kilometre is then inferred by dividing the number of sampled colonies by the estimated area from which drones are drawn. However, the estimate of colony density is potentially inaccurate because the distance over which males are attracted to the trap is imprecisely known. In this study, we sampled drones at 500 m intervals along two linear transects seven km in length. We then determined at how many sampling intervals each individual colony was detected. This provides an estimate the average maximum distance that drones can be lured by a balloon trap, and the appropriate correction factor to convert the number of inferred colonies sampled from a trap to the actual density of colonies in the landscape.
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