, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 533-542
Date: 24 Jun 2011

Characteristics of honey bee colonies (Apis mellifera) in Sweden surviving Varroa destructor infestation

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A population of European honey bees (Apis mellifera) surviving Varroa destructor mite infestation in Sweden for over 10 years without treatment, demonstrate that a balanced host–parasite relationship may evolve over time. Colony-level adaptive traits linked to Varroa tolerance were investigated in this population to identify possible characteristics that may be responsible for colony survival in spite of mite infestations. Brood removal rate, adult grooming rate, and the mite distribution between brood and adults were not significantly different in the untreated population compared with treated control colonies. However, colony size and the reproductive success of the mite were significantly reduced in surviving colonies compared with control colonies. Our data suggest that colony-level adaptive traits may limit mite population growth by reducing mite reproduction opportunities and also by suppressing the mite reproductive success.

Manuscript editor: David Tarpy