The removal response ofApis mellifera L. colonies to brood in wax and plastic cells after artificial and natural infestation withVarroa jacobsoni Oud. and to freeze-killed brood
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- Boecking, O. & Drescher, W. Exp Appl Acarol (1992) 16: 321. doi:10.1007/BF01218574
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LikeApis cerana colonies,A. mellifera colonies also show removal response toVarroa-infested brood cells. Infested worker brood cells of artificially and naturally infested combs were detected by the worker bees to various degrees in all types of comb-material used.
The bees uncap brood cells and remove larvae or pupae infested with one or two mites. The removal response of worker bees was stronger towards brood cells containing two mites than cells with one mite.
The specific signals which cause the removal of brood cells infested withVarroa mites are unknown. Removal response toVarroa-infested brood cells in plastic comb-material (“Jenter”-and ANP-comb) was significantly higher than to brood in wax combs. Up to now we do not know to what extent this tolerance mechanism is influenced by genetic and environmental factors.
Our experiments comparing the removal of freeze-killed brood with the removal of brood infested withVarroa mites demonstrate positive correlations. Considering the time-consuming method of the artificial infestation with living mites, the hygienic behaviour-including the removal of brood cells infested with mites-of large series of colonies can be tested using freeze-killed brood.