Free access
Volume 35, Number 1, January-February 2004
Page(s) 65 - 70
Apidologie 35 (2004) 65-70
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003065

A semiochemical from brood cells infested by Varroa destructor triggers hygienic behaviour in Apis mellifera

Francesco Nazzi, Giorgio Della Vedova and Mauro D'Agaro

Dipartimento di Biologia Applicata alla Difesa delle Piante, Università di Udine, via delle Scienze 208, 33100 Udine, Italy
(Received 27 January 2003; revised 3 April 2003; accepted 14 July 2003)

Hygienic behaviour of bees towards mite infested brood is involved in the tolerance of some bee strains to Varroa destructor. The stimuli triggering hygienic behaviour are olfactory cues emanating from cells containing infested brood but their identity is still unknown. After confirming the capacity of bees to detect and empty mite-infested cells, we studied the volatile chemicals released by artificially infested worker brood cells by means of SPME-GC-MS. The identified chemicals were then bioassayed by comparing the bees' hygienic behaviour towards treated cells into which 1 $\mu$g of each compound was injected and control cells which received the solvent alone. Z-(6)-pentadecene significantly increased the number of cells emptied by the bees.

Key words: Varroa destructor / semiochemicals / hygienic behaviour / removal / hydrocarbons

Correspondence and reprints: Francesco Nazzi

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004