The goal of the Insect Cryobiology and Ecophysiology (ICE) Network is to understand how bees overcome harsh winter conditions to successfully emerge and reproduce in spring. Regulation of the overwintering state determines key elements of bee lifecycles, including when critical pollinators are available in natural and agricultural ecosystems. The long-term research goal of the ICE Network is to understand the genetic and physiological regulation of the overwintering phenotype in solitary and social bees.
The ICE Network brings together experts in genomics, gene regulation, physiology, and ecological modeling. Faculty from land-grant universities will collaborate with scientist from the USDA Agricultural Research Service between three states, North Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. We aim to make it possible to predict and manipulate overwintering phenotypes in three agriculturally-relevant bee species, setting the stage for improved management of those species and more accurate forecasting of wild and agricultural bee populations.