The effectiveness of systemic agents used to control the mite, Varroa jacobsoni, in colonies of the honey bee, Apis mellifera depends on food distribution patternsN.W.M. van Buren, A.G.H. Mariën and H.H.W. Velthuis
Laboraiory of Comparative Physiology, PO Box 80086, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands
Abstract - A common means of combating the mite Varroa jacobsoni is to use systemic agents assumed to be spread by trophallactic interactions between honey bees within a colony. Colonies of Apis mellifera with age-marked bees were used to analyse distribution patterns of these agents. Methylene blue dye was used as a tracer in place of a systemic agent in order to determine possible effects of the method of application on distribution patterns within a colony. Applying a sugar solution by sprinkling a colony was found to cause a faster and more even distribution among the colony members than applying the agent in a feeding-jar. However, the effectiveness was lower and the contamination of combs and top bars was higher. Results show that with lower concentrations methylene blue is a less accurate tracer for food transfer than has been reported in the literature. It is concluded that trophallaxis is of minor importance for obtaining an even distribution of a systemic agent in a bee colony.
Key words: Varroa jacobson / acaricide / Perizin / food distribution patterns / trophallaxis / tracer