Free access
Volume 38, Number 6, November-December 2007
Page(s) 566 - 572
Published online 14 December 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 566-572
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007040

Honey bee colonies that have survived Varroa destructor

Yves Le Contea, Gérard de Vaublanca, Didier Crausera, François Jeanneb, Jean-Claude Roussellec and Jean-Marc Bécarda

a  INRA, UMR406, Écologie des Invertébrés, Laboratoire Biologie et Protection de l'Abeille, Site Agroparc, Domaine Saint-Paul, 84914 Avignon, France
b  OPIDA, 61370 Echaufour, France
c  GDS de la Sarthe et Rucher École, route de Brulon, 72000 Le Mans, France

(Received 14 November 2006 - Revised 11 September 2007 - Accepted 12 September 2007 - Published online 14 December 2007)

Abstract - We document the ability of a population of honey bee colonies to survive in France without Varroa suppression measures. We compared the mortality of collected Varroa surviving bee (VSB) stock with that of miticide-treated Varroa-susceptible colonies. Varroa infestation did not induce mortality in the VSB colonies. Some of the original colonies survived more than 11 years without treatment and the average survival of the experimental colonies was 6.54 $\pm $ 0.25 years. Swarming was variable (41.50 $\pm $ 9.94%) depending on the year. Honey production was significantly higher (1.7 times) in treated than in VSB colonies. For the first time since Varroa invaded France, our results provide evidence that untreated local honey bee colonies can survive the mite, which may be the basis for integrated Varroa management.

Key words: Apis mellifera / honey bee / Varroa destructor / host-parasite relationship / natural selection / tolerance

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007