Phenotypic correlations of field and laboratory tests with honey production in Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera)Oscar Zárate1, Chavier De Araujo-Freitas1, Luis A. Medina1, Alfonso Velásquez2 and J. Javier G. Quezada-Euán1
1 Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria, Departamento de Apicultura, Apartado Postal 4-116 CP 97100, Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
2 Instituto Tecnológico Agropecuario 2, Conkal Yucatan, Mexico
Received 6 March 2008 – Revised 2 May 2008 – Accepted 5 May 2008 - Published online 28 October 2008
Abstract - Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera; AHB) are predominant in tropical Mexico. A selection program using local AHBs colonies is a good alternative to provide beekeepers with good quality queens. We evaluated the application of field and laboratory tests to predict the production of honey in AHBs from Yucatan, Mexico. Five variables were measured in worker bees in the laboratory: longevity, amount of syrup removed, hoarding, weight of pupae and corbicular area. Three additional variables were measured in the field: rate of foraging activity, volume of honey sac contents and colony weight gain per week. Our results showed that weekly colony weight gain had the highest correlation with honey production in AHBs. Only the corbicular area and worker longevity were not correlated with honey production (r = 0.256 and r = 0.074, respectively P > 0.05). Thus, short term colony weight gain can be recommended as a good estimate of honey production in AHBs and lab tests can be included as selection aids.
Key words: Africanized honey bees / phenotypic correlation / honey production / Yucatan / queen bee / breeding
© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008