bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Varroa resistant traits discovered

Last month, I was a tad sceptical about claims that queens with varroa resistant traits were available in the Baton Rouge for just $12. But now a more convincing report is available from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Researchers at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, say they have discovered two heritable traits that may protect bees against varroa, the parasitic mite that has spread globally and kills off colonies of Apis mellifera. The researchers want to provide beekeepers with some immediate relief in their battle with mites and have discovered non-reproducing mites:
These are mites that enter brood cells to reproduce — but don't, for one reason or another. Most notable of these are female mites that don't lay any eggs. Harbo and Harris [the researchers] believed a trait of the honey bee was causing this to happen.
This SMR trait has been bred for and in an agreement that ended last year, queens with the trait were made available to Glenn Apiaries, a commercial queen breeder in California.

The second trait the researchers are studying is called P-MIB:

the potential trait — dubbed "percentage of mites in brood" or P-MIB ... Mites reproduce only in brood cells, so selecting for low P-MIB would diminish the rate of mite reproduction.

“It would complement SMR well because it affects mites while they are outside, rather than inside, a brood cell where SMR has an effect,” says Harbo. The two traits together may enhance resistance to Varroa mites.
The work is still at evaluation stages.



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