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Insects 2019, 10(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10010012

Is the Brood Pattern within a Honey Bee Colony a Reliable Indicator of Queen Quality?

1
Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, 1980 Folwell Ave, Suite 219, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA
2
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 June 2018 / Revised: 23 July 2018 / Accepted: 29 August 2018 / Published: 8 January 2019
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Abstract

Failure of the queen is often identified as a leading cause of honey bee colony mortality. However, the factors that can contribute to “queen failure” are poorly defined and often misunderstood. We studied one specific sign attributed to queen failure: poor brood pattern. In 2016 and 2017, we identified pairs of colonies with “good” and “poor” brood patterns in commercial beekeeping operations and used standard metrics to assess queen and colony health. We found no queen quality measures reliably associated with poor-brood colonies. In the second year (2017), we exchanged queens between colony pairs (n = 21): a queen from a poor-brood colony was introduced into a good-brood colony and vice versa. We observed that brood patterns of queens originally from poor-brood colonies significantly improved after placement into a good-brood colony after 21 days, suggesting factors other than the queen contributed to brood pattern. Our study challenges the notion that brood pattern alone is sufficient to judge queen quality. Our results emphasize the challenges in determining the root source for problems related to the queen when assessing honey bee colony health. View Full-Text
Keywords: Apis mellifera; queen; brood pattern; queen quality; colony health; beekeeping; parasites and pathogens; pesticides Apis mellifera; queen; brood pattern; queen quality; colony health; beekeeping; parasites and pathogens; pesticides
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Lee, K.V.; Goblirsch, M.; McDermott, E.; Tarpy, D.R.; Spivak, M. Is the Brood Pattern within a Honey Bee Colony a Reliable Indicator of Queen Quality? Insects 2019, 10, 12.

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