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1 June 2011 Expression of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) in Commercial VSH Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)
Robert G. Danka, Jeffrey W. Harris, José D. Villa
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We tested six commercial sources of honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), whose breeding incorporated the trait of Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH). VSH confers resistance to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman by enhancing the ability of the bees to hygienically remove mite-infested brood. VSH production queens (i.e., queens commercially available for use in beekeepers' production colonies) from the six sources were established in colonies which later were measured for VSH. Their responses were compared with those of colonies with three other types of queens, as follows: VSH queens from the selected closed population maintained by USDA—ARS for research and as a source of breeding germplasm, queens from the cooperating commercial distributor of this germplasm, and queens of a commercial, mite-susceptible source. The reduction of mite infestation in brood combs exposed to test colonies for 1 wk differed significantly between groups. On average, colonies with VSH production queens reduced infestation by 44%. This group average was intermediate between the greater removal by pure ARS VSH (76%) and the cooperators' breeding colonies (64%), and the lesser removal by susceptible colonies (7%). VSH production colonies from the different sources had variable expression of hygiene against mites, with average reduced infestations ranging from 22 to 74%. In addition, infertility was high among mites that remained in infested cells in VSH breeder colonies from ARS and the commercial distributor but was lower and more variable in VSH production colonies and susceptible colonies. Commercial VSH production colonies supply mite resistance that generally seems to be useful for beekeeping. Resistance probably could be improved if more VSH drones sources were supplied when VSH production queens are being mated.

Robert G. Danka, Jeffrey W. Harris, and José D. Villa "Expression of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) in Commercial VSH Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)," Journal of Economic Entomology 104(3), 745-749, (1 June 2011).
Received: 29 October 2010; Accepted: 1 February 2011; Published: 1 June 2011

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