Free access
Volume 39, Number 5, September-October 2008
Page(s) 515 - 522
Published online 28 October 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 515-522
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008032

Horizontal transmission of Paenibacillus larvae spores between honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies through robbing

Anders Lindström1, Seppo Korpela2 and Ingemar Fries1

1  Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology, Box 7044, 750 07, Uppsala, Sweden
2  MTT Agrifood Research Finland, 31600 Jokioinen, Finland

Received 10 January 2008 – Revised 2 April 2008 – Accepted 7 April 2008 - Published online 28 October 2008

Abstract - Surprisingly little is known about transmission rates between honey bee colonies of Paenibacillus larvae, the causative agent American foulbrood. We studied the rate of horizontal transmission of P. larvae spores between colonies as a function of physical distance between colonies by culturing for the spores from sequential samples of adult bees. The results demonstrate a direct effect of distance to clinically diseased colonies on the probability of contracting high spore levels, as well as on the probability of developing clinically visible disease symptoms. The results also demonstrate that colonies may develop considerable spore densities on adult bees without exhibiting visible symptoms of disease. Furthermore, the data suggest that transmission of AFB between apiaries occur within 1 km distance from clinically diseased colonies, but is significantly lower at 2 km distance or longer when colonies dead from AFB are allowed to be robbed out.

Key words: horizontal transmission / Apis mellifera / Paenibacillus larvae / robbing / American foulbrood

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008