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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Suppression of Mite Reproduction: a Characteristic of Honey Bees That Produces Resistance to Varrroa Destructor.

Authors
item Harbo, John
item Harris, Jeffrey

Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2001
Publication Date: December 1, 2001
Citation: Harbo, J.R., Harris, J.W. 2001. Suppression of Mite Reproduction: A Characteristic of Honey Bees that Produces Resistance to Varroa Destructor.American Bee Journal. 141(12):889.

Interpretive Summary: This test compared the growth of populations of a parasitic mites (Varroa destructor) in colonies of honey bees that each received one of the following queens: (1)resistant, queens selected for suppression of mite reproduction (SMR) and artificially inseminated with drones from similarly selected stocks; (2) resistant x control, resistant queens, as above, produced and free mated to unselected drones by one of four commercial queen producers; and (3) control, commercial queens chosen by the same 4 commercial queen producers and free mated as above. Each colony started the test with 0.9 kg of bees that were naturally infested with about 650 mites. At the end of the 115-day test period, the mite populations were 19 +/- 18 (n=11) )mean +/-SD), 424 +/- 422 (n=23), and 834 +/- 755 (n=23) for the three groups, respectively. All means were different at the 0.01 level. This study demonstrated that selection of honey bees for a single resistant trait (SMR) can effectively reduce and nearly eliminate mite populations in a bee colony. Moreover, queens selected for the SMR trait and then free-mated to drones at commercial beekeeping locations can provide a colony with a significant level of resistance to varroa.

Technical Abstract: This test compared the growth of populations of parasitic mites (Varroa destructor) in colonies of honey bees that each received one of the following queens: (1) resistant, queens selected for suppression of mite reproduction (SMR) and artificially inseminated with drones from similarly selected stocks; (2) resistant x control, resistant queens, as above, produced and free mated to unselected drones by one of four commercial queen producers; and (3) control, commercial queens chosen by the same 4 commercial queen producers and free mated as above. Each colony started the test with 0.9 kg of bees that were naturally infested with about 650 mites. At the end of the 115-day test period, the mite populations were 19 +- 18 (n = 11) (mean +- SD), 424 +- 422 (n = 23), and 834 +- 755 (n = 23) for the three groups, respectively. All means were different at the 0.01 level. This study demonstrated that selection of honey bees for a single resistant trait (SMR) can effectively reduce and nearly eliminate mite populations in a bee colony. Moreover, queens selected for the SMR trait and then free-mated to drones at commercial beekeeping locations can provide a colony with a significant level of resistance to varroa.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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