The utility of USDA-developed Russian and varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), was compared with that of locally produced, commercial Italian bees during 2004–2006 in beekeeping operations in Alabama, USA. Infestations of varroa mites, Varroa destructor Anderson & Truman (Acari: Varroidae), were measured twice each year, and colonies that reached established economic treatment thresholds (one mite per 100 adult bees in late winter; 5–10 mites per 100 adult bees in late summer) were treated with acaricides. Infestations of tracheal mites, Acarapis woodi (Rennie) (Acari: Tarsonemidae), were measured autumn and compared with a treatment threshold of 20% mite prevalence. Honey production was measured in 2005 and 2006 for colonies that retained original test queens. Throughout the three seasons of measurement, resistant stocks required less treatment against parasitic mites than the Italian stock. The total percentages of colonies needing treatment against varroa mites were 12% of VSH, 24% of Russian, and 40% of Italian. The total percentages requiring treatment against tracheal mites were 1% of Russian, 8% of VSH and 12% of Italian. The average honey yield of Russian and VSH colonies was comparable with that of Italian colonies each year. Beekeepers did not report any significant behavioral problems with the resistant stocks. These stocks thus have good potential for use in nonmigratory beekeeping operations in the southeastern United States.
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Vol. 101 • No. 3