Expression of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) in Commercial VSH Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Authors: Danka, Robert G.; Harris, Jeffrey W.; Villa, José D.

Source: Journal of Economic Entomology, Volume 104, Number 3, June 2011 , pp. 745-749(5)

Publisher: Entomological Society of America

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We tested six commercial sources of honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), whose breeding incorporated the trait of Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH). VSH confers resistance to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman by enhancing the ability of the bees to hygienically remove mite-infested brood. VSH production queens (i.e., queens commercially available for use in beekeepers' production colonies) from the six sources were established in colonies which later were measured for VSH. Their responses were compared with those of colonies with three other types of queens, as follows: VSH queens from the selected closed population maintained by USDA‐ARS for research and as a source of breeding germplasm, queens from the cooperating commercial distributor of this germplasm, and queens of a commercial, mite-susceptible source. The reduction of mite infestation in brood combs exposed to test colonies for 1 wk differed significantly between groups. On average, colonies with VSH production queens reduced infestation by 44%. This group average was intermediate between the greater removal by pure ARS VSH (76%) and the cooperators' breeding colonies (64%), and the lesser removal by susceptible colonies (7%). VSH production colonies from the different sources had variable expression of hygiene against mites, with average reduced infestations ranging from 22 to 74%. In addition, infertility was high among mites that remained in infested cells in VSH breeder colonies from ARS and the commercial distributor but was lower and more variable in VSH production colonies and susceptible colonies. Commercial VSH production colonies supply mite resistance that generally seems to be useful for beekeeping. Resistance probably could be improved if more VSH drones sources were supplied when VSH production queens are being mated.

Keywords: Apis mellifera; Varroa destructor; breeding; mite resistance

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • 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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