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Cold Ambient Temperature Promotes Nosema spp. Intensity in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)

Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern 3003, Switzerland
Agroscope, Swiss Bee Research Centre, Bern 3003, Switzerland
Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Steven Cook and Jay Daniel Evans
Insects 2017, 8(1), 20;
Received: 20 October 2016 / Revised: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 20 January 2017 / Published: 9 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interactions Among Threats to Honeybee Health)
PDF [939 KB, uploaded 9 February 2017]


Interactions between parasites and environmental factors have been implicated in the loss of managed Western honey bee (=HB, Apis mellifera) colonies. Although laboratory data suggest that cold temperature may limit the spread of Nosema ceranae, an invasive species and now ubiquitous endoparasite of Western HBs, the impact of weather conditions on the distribution of this microsporidian in the field is poorly understood. Here, we conducted a survey for Nosema spp. using 18 Swiss apiaries (four colonies per apiary) over a period of up to 18 months. Samples consisting of 60 workers were collected monthly from each colony to estimate Nosema spp. intensity, i.e., the number of spores in positive samples using microscopy. Ambient apiary temperature was measured daily to estimate the proportion of days enabling HB flight (>10 °C at midday). The results show that Nosema spp. intensities were negatively correlated with the proportion of days enabling HB flight, thereby suggesting a significant and unexpected positive impact of cold ambient temperature on intensities, probably via regulation of defecation opportunities for infected hosts. View Full-Text
Keywords: Nosema spp.; parasite intensity; temperature; weather; microsporidian infection; Apis mellifera Nosema spp.; parasite intensity; temperature; weather; microsporidian infection; Apis mellifera

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Retschnig, G.; Williams, G.R.; Schneeberger, A.; Neumann, P. Cold Ambient Temperature Promotes Nosema spp. Intensity in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). Insects 2017, 8, 20.

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