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Insects 2019, 10(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10010015

Comb Irradiation Has Limited, Interactive Effects on Colony Performance or Pathogens in Bees, Varroa destructor and Wax Based on Two Honey Bee Stocks

Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Baton Rouge, LA 70820, USA
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Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 26 November 2018 / Accepted: 8 December 2018 / Published: 8 January 2019
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Abstract

Parasitic mites and pathogens compromise honey bee health. Development of sustainable and integrative methods of managing these problems will minimize their detrimental impact on honey bees. Here, we aimed to determine if the combination of using mite-resistant stocks along with gamma-irradiated combs influences colony health and productivity. The major finding concerned honey bee genotype confirming that Russian honey bees are more resistant to Varroa destructor than Italian honey bees. The effect of comb irradiation was inconsistent showing a significant increase in adult bee population and amount of stored pollen in 2015, but not in 2016. The increased amount of stored pollen was probably associated with larger adult population in colonies with irradiated combs in September 2015 regardless of honey bee stock. Nevertheless, the ability of bees to collect and store more pollen in the irradiated group does not appear to compensate the negative impacts of mite parasitism on honey bees especially in the Italian bees, which consistently suffered significant colony losses during both years. Results of viral analyses of wax, newly emerged bees, and Varroa and their pupal hosts showed common detections of Deformed wing virus (DWV), Varroa destructor virus (VDV-1), Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV), and Black queen cell virus (BQCV). Wax samples had on average ~4 viruses or pathogens detected in both irradiated and non-irradiated combs. Although pathogen levels varied by month, some interesting effects of honey bee stock and irradiation treatment were notable, indicating how traits of mite resistance and alternative treatments may have additive effects. Further, this study indicates that wax may be a transmission route of viral infection. In addition, pupae and their infesting mites from Italian colonies exhibited higher levels of DWV than those from Russian colonies suggesting potential DWV resistance by Russian honey bees. CBPV levels were also reduced in mites from Russian colonies in general and in mites, mite-infested pupae, and newly emerged bees that were collected from irradiated combs. However, BQCV levels were not reduced by comb irradiation. Overall, the contribution of irradiating comb in improving honey bee health and colony survival appears to be subtle, but may be useful as part of an integrated pest management strategy with the addition of using mite-resistant stocks. View Full-Text
Keywords: gamma irradiation; mite-resistant honey bees; wax-borne pathogens; integrated pest management gamma irradiation; mite-resistant honey bees; wax-borne pathogens; integrated pest management
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De Guzman, L.I.; Simone-Finstrom, M.; Frake, A.M.; Tokarz, P. Comb Irradiation Has Limited, Interactive Effects on Colony Performance or Pathogens in Bees, Varroa destructor and Wax Based on Two Honey Bee Stocks. Insects 2019, 10, 15.

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