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Heritability in honey bees of characteristics associated with resistance to Varroa jacobsoni

Heritability in honey bees of characteristics associated with resistance to Varroa jacobsoni

Journal of Economic Entomology 92(2): 261-265

This study uses sibling analysis to measure the heritability in honey bees, Apis mellifera L., of characteristics that have been associated with resistance to the mite, Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans. Twenty-eight uniform colonies of bees were established on 13 May in Baton Rouge, LA, each with 1 kg of mite-infested bees and a queen. The 28 unrelated queens in these colonies were divided into 7 groups of 4 based on the insemination of 4 queens with the same mixture of semen from 1 of 7 sire colonies. After worker progeny from these queens had replaced the initial bee populations, a colony was related as a full sister to the other 3 colonies in its sire group and unrelated to the other 24 colonies. Heritability (h2) was 1.24 for proportion of mites in brood, 0.65 for hygienic behavior, 0.89 for the duration of the capped period, 0.46 for suppression of mite reproduction, and 0.00 for physical damage to mites (measured by the presence of physically broken or dented mites on the bottom board). These results suggest that it should be possible to enhance the expression of 4 of these 5 characteristics with selective breeding of bees, thus reinforcing confidence in our ability to breed honey bees for resistance to V. jacobsoni.

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Accession: 035029208

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