Evaluation of Traits for the Selection of Apis Mellifera for Resistance against Varroa Destructor
Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen, Bee Institute, Erlenstrasse 9, 35274 Kirchhain, Germany
Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences Osijek, University of Osijek, Vladimira Preloga 1, 31000 Osijek, Croatia
Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Division of Livestock Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
Institute for Bee Research, Friedrich-Engels-Str. 32, 16540 Hohen Neuendorf, Germany
Animal Breeding and Genomics, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 July 2020 / Revised: 28 August 2020 / Accepted: 7 September 2020 / Published: 10 September 2020
Infestation with the parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a serious cause of bee colony (Apis mellifera) losses on a global level. However, the presence of untreated survivor populations in many different regions indicates that selection for resistance might lead to a long-term solution. The success of selection depends on suitable testing criteria. To be effective, results must show repeatable effects of the individual genotype and correlate with the breeding goal. As colony survival is difficult to measure, selective breeding for Varroa resistance can be based on differences in mite infestation and specific behavioral traits. In this paper we look into different definitions of mite infestation and link these with brood hygiene (pin test), brood recapping and suppressed mite reproduction (SMR). Due to the large dataset (489 colonies) from Austria, Croatia and Germany and four seasons (2016–2019), our study arrogates high representability. Repeatability analysis depicts different infestation parameters, brood hygiene and recapping data as characteristic colony traits while SMR results are very strongly influenced by environmental effects. Brood hygiene and recapping data correlate weakly but significantly with mite infestation. We therefore recommend combining them with estimates of mite population increase and brood infestation for an effective selection on resistance.