We evaluated the performance of six named types of package honey bees, Apis mellifera L (Hymenoptera: Apidae), from four commercial producers. We examined the effects of levels of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, the endoparasitic mite Acarapis woodi (Rennie), the gut parasite Nosema (species not determined) in samples from bees in 48 packages, and levels of adult drones in the same packages on corresponding levels of those same traits in the fall in colonies that developed from those 48 packages. After package installation, we measured the rate of queen failure, the removal of freeze-killed brood (an assay to assess hygienic behavior), varroa-sensitive hygiene, and short-term weight gain in all colonies. We examined the correlations among these traits and the effect of initial package conditions and package-type on the expression of these traits. In general, differences among sources were not significant, except that we did observe significant differences in the proportion of mite infected worker brood in the fall. There was no significant difference in weight gain in colonies established from nosema-infected packages versus those established from noninfected packages. Freeze-killed hygienic behavior and varroa-sensitive hygienic behavior were positively correlated, suggesting that both traits could be selected simultaneously. Neither trait was correlated with colony weight gain, suggesting that both traits could be selected without compromising honey production.
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Vol. 102 • No. 2