Back to top

Entomology Research

Cranberry Entomology Research for 2016

Anne L. Averill, Martha M. Sylvia
Andrea Couto and Noel Hahn

Pollinator Conservation Program

Outreach and Activity

May 2016:  four-day Pollen School was held at the Cranberry Station with sessions on pollen processing and pollen ID. We hosted 10 attendees (fellow researchers from 4 New England states).

May 2016 at the UMASS Campus, we coordinated the two-day meeting of the cooperators (21 researchers) on our 5-year USDA-NIFA Pollinator Security grant (Averill is project director).

August 2016 at UMass Cranberry Station, we hosted a three-day Pollinator Habitat Working Group meeting for 16 attendees (researchers and USDA folk from 5 New England states); this involved coordination of two days of presentations, field trips and arrangement of lodging/food.

Demonstration: State Bog Pollinator Garden at UMass Cranberry Station. New plantings included early blooming azaleas, rhododendrons, pussy willow, and fragrant sumac.  Labeling and mapping for easier ID as well as weeding and watering in drought year were carried out.

Extension publication: A Review on Bees, UMass Amherst, (Cranberry edition)
Bee Pamphlet April 2016, 16 pages (This was delivered at an April meeting of 100 attendees, together with a 30-min presentations by Andrea Couto and Martha Sylvia titled “State of the bees”

Extension publication: A Review on Bees, UMass Amherst (Northeast crops edition)
Bee Pamphlet expanded and republished Oct. 2016, 36 pages. Includes sections on apple, blueberry, cranberry and pumpkin pollination, plus what conditions support bees.

Research Projects

Bumble bee colony health at Managed bogs, Unmanaged Bogs, and Wildlife Conservation Areas: Do commercial cranberry systems provide a healthy habitat for bumble bee colonies?

Bumble bee colonies placed at ten sites in Bristol and Plymouth Counties were assessed after 6-7 weeks (colonies were deployed well prior to cranberry bloom at all sites). Colony mass, plus the number of workers and reproductives, were quantified. Colonies at wildlife management areas initially performed better, but experienced heavy predation. At commercial cranberry beds, colonies collapsed within a couple weeks of deployment at three sites, but performed well at two other managed sites (one being UMASS State Bog).

25 Year Survey: Is the diversity of bee species in decline in the cranberry region?

Eleven bogs, previously surveyed in 1990-1991 and in 2007-2009, were revisited this year and assessed for pollinator activity and diversity. Diversity is dropping. This was concluded based on identical sampling practices that have been done over the 25 year interval. Amazingly, 7 of the sites did not stock honey bees, reflecting a key change in grower practices as profit has declined. Counts at these non-honey bee sites had increased bumble bee activity.

Pollen Loads of Queen bumble bees: What plant species are queens using for pollen collections?

Spring success of queen bumble bees is critical to the founding of colonies. For a second year, pollen loads were collected from queens of five species. We are currently assessing how general they are in their pollen collecting and which plant species are commonly utilized.

Microbiota in bumble bee guts: Do gut microbial communities vary in ‘healthy’ vs ‘non-healthy’ conditions?

Gut symbiont communities are critical for the health of many insect species. In tent settings, we exposed bumble bee colonies to varied neonicotinoid (a common insecticide that functions as a nerve toxin) feeding regimes for 6 weeks.  DNA and RNA were extracted from whole guts and the diversity and abundance of gut symbionts are currently being analyzed by a cooperator.

Pollination Deficit: Would cranberry yield be higher if there were more pollinators?

This was a pilot test. During bloom, sections of bog were covered with tents and bumble bee colonies were added for one day. Compared to open bog sections, yield and berry weight were sometimes higher in the tented sections.

Assessment of European honey bee health in Massachusetts hives

A limited project. Across MA, sampling of 75 backyard hives showed that the majority had treatable levels of the worst honey bee pest, Varroa mite, but that levels of the microsporidian pathogen Nosema was low.

Insect Pest Management Program

Cranberry Fruitworm Egglaying on Hybrid Cranberry Cultivars: Are the early, large-fruiting cultivars more susceptible to infestation than the native varieties?

Berries were collected at three sites and inspected for cranberry fruitworm eggs. Two native varieties (EB and H) and two new large-fruiting hybrids (ST, CQ) were included for assessment. Egglaying occurred before 50% out-of-bloom, confirming our recommendation to treat (with bee-safe compounds) at 50% out-of-bloom, as eggs are hatching. For the large-fruiting hybrids, fruitworm infestation was observed four days before 50% out of bloom and just a few days before the native varieties. Of all eggs laid (112), 80% were on the hybrids and 20% were on the natives.

Cranberry Scale Outbreak

For a 3rd year, reports of dead vines across the MA cranberry-growing region were common and Putnam scale (Diaspidiotus ancylus) was the culprit. Seventeen companies or individual growers brought in samples from 49 sites in May-June to determine if they had scale and to consult with us about the best timing for management. Eight companies/growers had multiple sites that were affected. Thirteen samples were NOT infested, and did not require treatment. Vines from thirty sites (26 of these were new) were infested and many growers brought in second samples to target peak crawler emergence. One Dearness scale (Rhizaspidiotus dearnessi) site continued from last year. A field trial with three low-impact options targeting crawler and white cap developmental stages showed some promise.

Co-edited a Major Publication:

Compendium of Blueberry, Cranberry and Lingonberry  Diseases and Pests, 2ND ed., APS Press, 231 pp  Ten years in the making!

Regulatory Program  Funding:  IR-4

The chlorothalonil residue trial was repeated this year by Marty Sylvia to comply with a European request to fast track the sampling from harvest to lab analysis (funded by TASC grants, USDA through CMC).


Studies on the Health & Conservation of Bees in Cranberry :  USDA-NIFA, MDAR, and USDA-Hatch/Multistate

Cranberry  Insect Research:  pest management and Pollination: CCCGA, CI, CRF and OSC