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Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) with the Trait of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene Remove Brood with All Reproductive Stages of Varroa Mites (Mesostigmata: Varroidae)

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Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) is a trait of honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), which supports resistance to Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman. VSH is the hygienic removal of mite-infested pupa. Bees selectively bred for VSH produce colonies in which the fertility of mites decreases over time. In addition, mite fertility decreases after infested brood is exposed to VSH bees for 1 wk. The purpose of this study was to decide whether the reduction in mite fertility is caused by selective removal of mites that produce offspring. Initially, we monitored changes in a small patch of capped brood during exposure to VSH bees at 2-h intervals through 60 h, which provided a reference for the subsequent experiment. The first test showed that VSH bees uncapped, recapped, and began to remove many pupae in approximately equal to 2 h. The approach in the second experiment was to compare the percentage of fertile mites from brood exposed to VSH bees for a 3-h period to the percentage of fertile mites in brood that was protected from hygiene by a screen. There were no significant differences in fertility between mites on pupae that were being removed by the bees and mites on protected pupae. These results suggest that neither egg-laying by foundress mites nor mite offspring are the stimuli that trigger hygienic removal of mite-infested pupae by VSH bees. It may be that hygienic activities such as the uncapping of brood cells inhibits or disrupts reproduction by varroa mites.
Harris, Jeffrey W. , Danka, Robert G. , Villa, Jose D.
Includes references
Annals of the Entomological Society of America 2010 Mar., v. 103, issue 2
Entomological Society of America
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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