Free access
Volume 34, Number 6, November-December 2003
Page(s) 591 - 596
Apidologie 34 (2003) 591-596
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003050

Autogrooming by resistant honey bees challenged with individual tracheal mites

Robert G. Danka and José D. Villa

USDA ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory, 1157 Ben Hur Road, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70820, USA
(Received 16 August 2002; revised 6 March 2003; accepted 28 April 2003)

Autogrooming responses of resistant and susceptible strains of honey bees were measured when bees were challenged by placing adult female tracheal mites on their thoraces. Marked, young adult workers of the two strains of bees were added to colonies in observation hives. We transferred a single, live, adult, female mite onto the mesoscutum of a marked bee, monitored the bee for seven minutes and then removed it and searched for the mite. Greater proportions of resistant bees autogroomed, and resistant bees made more grooming attempts. Bees of both strains had equal apparent grooming effectiveness; grooming bees lost approx. 75% of mites. Control-group bees (those only stroked with the brush used to transfer mites) of the two bee strains did not differ in any response parameter. Resistant bees may have a lower threshold for responding by autogrooming when stimulated by mites on their body.

Key words: Apis mellifera / honey bees / Acarapis woodi / tracheal mites genetic resistance / grooming behavior

Correspondence and reprints: Robert G. Danka

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003