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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Reproductive success of the parasitic mite (Varroa destructor) is lower in honeybee colonies that target infested cells with recapping

Oddie, Melissa A. Y.; Burke, Ashley; Dahle, Bjorn; Le Conte, Yves; Mondet, Fanny; Locke, Barbara


Cell recapping is a behavioural trait of honeybees (Apis mellifera) where cells with developing pupae are uncapped, inspected, and then recapped, without removing the pupae. The ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor, unarguably the most destructive pest in apiculture world-wide, invades the cells of developing pupae to feed and reproduce. Honeybees that target mite infested cells with this behaviour may disrupt the reproductive cycle of the mite. Hence, cell recapping has been associated with colony-level declines in mite reproduction. In this study we compared the colony-level efficacy of cell recapping (how often infested cells are recapped) to the average mite fecundity in A. mellifera. Our study populations, known to be adapted to V. destructor, were from Avignon, France, Gotland, Sweden, and Oslo, Norway, and were compared to geographically similar, treated control colonies. The results show that colonies with a higher recapping efficacy also have a lower average mite reproductive success. This pattern was likely driven by the adapted populations as they had the largest proportion of highly-targeted cell recapping. The consistent presence of this trait in mite-resistant and mite-susceptible colonies with varying degrees of expression may make it a good proxy trait for selective breeding on a large scale.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2021, volume: 11, number: 1, article number: 9133

Authors' information

Oddie, Melissa
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Burke, Ashley
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Dahle, Bjorn
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Le Conte, Yves
Mondet, Fanny
Locke, Barbara (Locke Grandér, Barbara)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

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