Free access
Volume 38, Number 6, November-December 2007
Page(s) 525 - 533
Published online 14 December 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 525-533
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007039

Possible host-parasite adaptations in honey bees infested by Varroa destructor mites

Ingemar Fries and Riccardo Bommarco

Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7044, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden

(Received 19 March 2007 - Revised and Accepted 22 August 2007 - Published online 14 December 2007)

Abstract - We investigated Varroa destructor mite population growth in a line of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies hat have survived mite infestation for seven years without treatment (Bond colonies), and in a line of colonies that had been treated to control the mites (Controls). We investigated if the source of mites affected mite population growth. The results showed that the overall mite population growth rate was reduced by 82% in Bond colonies compared to Control colonies, irrespective of the mite source (mites from Bond or Control colonies). Two traits may partly explain the difference seen in mite population growth. First, Bond colonies produced less worker and drone brood compared to Control colonies. Second, Control colonies had a larger proportion of the mites in the sealed brood compared to Bond colonies. Reduced brood production and traits leading to differences in mite distribution could be interpreted as adaptive responses to mite pressure, although a causal relationship was not demonstrated.

Key words: Varroa destructor / population dynamics / Apis mellifera / natural selection / co-adaptation / Europe

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007