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Genetic Analysis of Commercial Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) from the Southeastern United States

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Abstract:

Approximately 3.2 million honey bee colonies are maintained by beekeepers in the United States and many are headed by commercially bred queens. We used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and allozyme variation to characterize 142 breeder queen colonies from 22 apiaries in the southeastern United States that produced ≍483,900 commercial honey bee queens in 1993. Analysis of mtDNA haplotypes showed that 4% of the 142 commercial breeder queen colonies were maternal descendants of Apis mellifera mellifera, a subspecies that was' imported into the United States by the 17th century but is no longer used commercially. The other 96% were probably descendants of A. m. ligustica. or A. m. carnica, subspecies imported in the 19th century which are still sold as commercial strains. Malate dehydrogenase allele frequencies for the 142 breeder queen colonies were determined to be Mdh65 = 0.50, Mdh80 = 0.23, and Mdh100 = 0.27. Five other enzymes known to be polymorphic in adult honey bees were invariant. Significant genetic differences between commercial and feral populations suggest that the feral population may represent a novel source of genetic variation for breeding programs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1995

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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