The invasion of Africanized honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) in the Americas provides a window of opportunity to study the dynamics of secondary contact of subspecies of bees that evolved in allopatry in ecologically distinctive habitats of the Old World. We report here the results of an 11-year mitochondrial DNA survey of a feral honeybee population from southern United States (Texas). The mitochondrial haplotype (mitotype) frequencies changed radically during the 11-year study period. Prior to immigration of Africanized honeybees, the resident population was essentially of eastern and western European maternal ancestry. Three years after detection of the first Africanized swarm there was a mitotype turnover in the population from predominantly eastern European to predominantly A. m. scutellata (ancestor of Africanized honeybees). This remarkable change in the mitotype composition coincided with arrival of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, which was likely responsible for severe losses experienced by colonies of European ancestry. From 1997 onward the population stabilized with most colonies of A. m. scutellata maternal origin.
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Vol. 58 • No. 5