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Africanized honey bees are more efficient at removing worker brood artificially infested with the parasitic mite Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans than are Italian bees or Italian/Africanized hybrids



Africanized honey bees are more efficient at removing worker brood artificially infested with the parasitic mite Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans than are Italian bees or Italian/Africanized hybrids



Genetics & Molecular Biology 23(1): 89-92



Africanized honey bees are more tolerant of infestations with the mite Varroa jacobsoni than are honey bees of European origin. The capacity of these bees to detect and react to brood infested with this mite could be one of the factors determining this tolerance. We tested colonies of Africanized bees headed by queens from swarms collected in Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paulo State. The Italian colonies had queens imported directly from the USA, or from the Brazilian Island of Fernando de Noronha, where varroa-infested Italian colonies have been maintained, untreated, since 1984. Recently sealed worker brood cells were artificially infested by opening the cell capping, inserting live adult female mites and resealing the cells. Control cells were treated in the same way, but without introducing mites. The ability of the Africanized honey bees to recognize and remove this artificially infested brood was compared with that of first generation Italian/Africanized hybrid bees, and with the two groups of "pure" Italian bees, in three separate experiments. Africanized colonies removed a mean of 51% of the infested brood, while Italian/Africanized hybrid colonies removed 25%. Africanized colonies also removed a significantly greater proportion of infested brood than did Italian colonies, headed by queens from the USA (59 vs. 31%, respectively). Similarly, when Africanized colonies were compared with colonies of Italian bees from Fernando de Noronha, the former were found to be significantly more efficient at removing infested brood (61 vs. 35%, respectively), even though the population of Italian bees on this island has been exposed to and survived varroa infestations (without treatment) for more than 12 years. Only the Africanized honey bees removed a significant proportion of varroa-infested brood, when the data was corrected for brood removal from control cells.

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