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J Econ Entomol. 2014 Apr;107(2):523-30.

Functionality of Varroa-resistant honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) when used for western U.S. honey production and almond pollination.


Two types of honey bees, Apis mellifera L., bred for resistance to Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman, were evaluated for performance when used for honey production in Montana, and for almond pollination the following winter. Colonies of Russian honey bees and outcrossed honey bees with Varroa-sensitive hygiene (VSH) were compared with control colonies of Italian honey bees. All colonies were managed without miticide treatments. In total, 185 and 175 colonies were established for trials in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, respectively. Survival of colonies with original queens or with supersedure queens was similar among stocks for both years. Colony sizes of the Varroa-resistant stocks were as large as or larger than the control colonies during periods critical to honey production and almond pollination. Honey production varied among stocks. In the first year, all stocks produced similar amounts of honey. In the second year, Russian honey bees colonies produced less honey than the control colonies. V. destructor infestations also varied among stocks. In the first year, control colonies had more infesting mites than either of the Varroa-resistant stocks, especially later in the year. In the second year, the control and outcrossed Varroa-sensitive hygiene colonies had high and damaging levels of infestation while the Russian honey bees colonies maintained lower levels of infestation. Infestations of Acarapis woodi (Rennie) were generally infrequent and low. All the stocks had similarly high Nosema ceranae infections in the spring and following winter of both years. Overall, the two Varroa-resistant stocks functioned adequately in this model beekeeping system.

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