The most economically important parasites of honey bee, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), colonies are the parasitic mites Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman and Acarapis woodi (Rennie). Research has shown that mite-tolerant stocks are effective means to reduce mite infestations within colonies, but it is unclear whether the stocks available commercially are viable means of mite control because they are likely to be genetic hybrids. We compared colonies of a standard commercial stock (“Italian”) with those of a commercially purchased mite-tolerant stock (“Russian”) for their levels of varroa and “tracheal” mites (A. woodi) over the course of 2 yr in three different geographic locations. We were unable to detect significant infestations of tracheal mites; thus, we were unable to adequately compare the stocks for their tolerance. In contrast, we found significant differences in the levels of varroa mites within and among colonies located across the three different study sites for both years. By the end of the first year, we found statistically significant differences between the stocks in varroa mite intensity (mites per adult bee), such that Russian-hybrid colonies tended to have a significantly lower proportion of parasitized adult bees than Italian colonies. In the second year, we found statistically significant differences between the stocks in varroa mite load (daily mite drop), such that Russian-hybrid colonies tended to have lower total numbers of mites than Italian colonies. These findings suggest that beekeepers may benefit by incorporating commercially purchased mite-tolerant stocks into their existing integrated pest management programs.
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Vol. 100 • No. 2