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Volume 38, Number 1, January-February 2007
Page(s) 19 - 29
Published online 29 November 2006
Apidologie 38 (2007) 19-29
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006055

Honey bees of the Arnot Forest: a population of feral colonies persisting with Varroa destructor in the northeastern United States

Thomas D. Seeley

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

(Received 21 January 2006 - Revised 23 April 2006 - Accepted 23 April 2006 - Published online 29 November 2006)

Abstract - Feral colonies of European honey bees living in the Arnot Forest, a 1651-ha research preserve in New York State, were studied over a three-year period, 2002 to 2005. This population of colonies was previously censused in 1978. A census in 2002 revealed as many colonies as before, even though Varroa destructor was introduced to North America in the intervening years. Most colonies located in fall 2002 were still alive in fall 2005. The Arnot Forest colonies proved to be infested with V. destructor, but their mite populations did not surge to high levels in late summer. To see if Arnot Forest bees can suppress the reproduction rate of mites, colonies of Arnot Forest bees and New World Carniolan bees were inoculated with mites from an apiary and the growth patterns of their mite populations were compared. No difference was found between the two colony types. Evidently, the stable bee-mite relationship in the Arnot Forest reflects adaptations for parasite (mite) avirulence, not host (bee) resistance.

Key words: Apis mellifera / Varroa destructor / host-parasite relationship / tolerance / avirulence

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007