Free access
Volume 32, Number 6, November-December 2001
Page(s) 555 - 565
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2001103

Apidologie 32 (2001) 555-565

Resistance to American foulbrood disease by honey bee colonies Apis mellifera bred for hygienic behavior

Marla Spivak and Gary S. Reuter

Department of Entomology, 1980 Folwell Ave., University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA

(Received 18 May 2001; revised 26 July 2001; accepted 13 August 2001)

Honey bee colonies, selected for hygienic behavior on the basis of a freeze-killed brood assay, demonstrated resistance to American foulbrood disease. Over two summers in 1998 and 1999, 18 hygienic and 18 non-hygienic colonies containing instrumentally inseminated queens were challenged with comb sections containing spores of the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae subsp. larvae that causes the disease. The strain of bacterium was demonstrated to be resistant to oxytetracycline antibiotic. Seven (39% ) hygienic colonies developed clinical symptoms of the disease but five of these recovered (had no visible symptoms) leaving two colonies (11% ) with clinical symptoms. In contrast, 100% of the non-hygienic colonies that were challenged developed clinical symptoms, and only one recovered. All non-hygienic colonies had symptoms of naturally occurring chalkbrood disease (Ascosphaera apis) throughout both summers. In contrast 33% of the hygienic colonies developed clinical symptoms of chalkbrood after they were challenged with American foulbrood, but all recovered. The diseased non-hygienic colonies produced significantly less honey than the hygienic colonies.

Key words: Apis mellifera / hygienic behavior / American foulbrood / disease resistance

Correspondence and reprints: Marla Spivak

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2001