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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: USING FREE-MATED QUEENS TO INTRODUCE GENES FOR VARROA RESISTANCE INTO A POPULATION OF HONEY BEES

Authors
item Harbo, John
item Harris, Jeffrey

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2000
Publication Date: November 1, 2000
Citation: Harbo, J.R., Harris, J.W. 2000. Using Free-mated Queens to Introduce Genes for Varroa Resistance into a Population of Honey Bees. American Bee Journal. 140(11):904-905.

Interpretive Summary: We have selected honey bees to suppress reproduction of Varroa jacobsoni. The overall objective of this work is to introduce mite-resistant genes (in this case suppression of mite reproduction, SMR) into a bee population so that the population gains mite-resistance while retaining most of its former beekeeping characteristics. The approach was for commercial queen producers to distribute mire-resistance queens that they have free-mated with unselected drones. Colonies with these outcrossed queens would therefore have only half of their genes selected for resistance ot varroa. From resistant queens provided by the Baton Rouge Lab., each of 4 commercial queen producers sent us 5 resistant x control queens plus 5 free-mated queens from their commercial stock (control). Queens were tested in Baton Rouge in colonies that began with no brood and about 1kg of mite-infested bees. Results in 1999 showed that mite populations were 44% lower in resistant x control colonies than in control colonies than in control colonies (n = 16 and 17 respectively, P = 0.004). SMR averaged 46 and 34% in the two groups, respectively (P = 0.11). Data from 2000 are incomplete but have already shown a significant difference in SMR between the resistant x control and control groups (58 and 40%, n = 28 and 26 respectively (P = 0.03). The results suggest that free-mated SMR queens can provide some immediate benefit to beekeepers with the possibility of providing a long-term solution to the varroa problem.

Technical Abstract: We have selected honey bees to suppress reproduction of Varroa jacobsoni. The overall objective of this work is to introduce mite-resistant genes (in this case suppression of mite reproduction, SMR) into a bee population so that the population gains mite-resistance while retaining most of its former beekeeping characteristics. The approach was for commercial queen producers to distribute mite-resistant queens that they have free-mated with unselected drones. Colonies with these outcrossed queens would therefore have only half of their genes selected for resistance to varroa. From resistant queens provided by the Baton Rouge Lab., each of 4 commercial queen producers sent us 5 resistant ( control queens plus 5 free-mated queens from their commercial stock (control). Queens were tested in Baton Rouge in colonies that began with no brood and about 1kg of mite-infested bees. Results in 1999 showed that mite populations were 44% lower in resistant ( control colonies than in control colonies (n = 16 and 17 respectively, P = 0.004). SMR averaged 46 and 34% in the two groups, respectively (P = 0.11). Data from 2000 are incomplete but have already shown a significant difference in SMR between the resistant ( control and control groups (58 and 40%, n = 28 and 26 respectively. P = 0.03). The results suggest that free-mated SMR queens can provide some immediate benefit to beekeepers with the possibility of providing a long-term solution to the varroa problem.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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