Free Access
Volume 25, Number 6, 1994
Page(s) 520 - 529
Apidologie 25 (1994) 520-529
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19940602

Abating feral Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera L) to enhance mating control of European queens

R.G. Dankaa, G.M. Loperb, J.D. Villa, J.L. Williamsa, E.A. Sugdenc, A.M. Collinsc and T.E. Rinderera

a  USDA, ARS Honey-Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory, 1157, Ben Hur Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70820, USA
b  USDA, ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, 2000, East Allen Road, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
c  USDA, ARS Subtropical Agricultural Research Laboratory, Honey Bee Research Unit, 2413, East Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596, USA

Abstract - Abatement of local feral honey-bee colonies was tested as a method to increase the mating control of European queens produced in an Africanized area. Feral colonies within 2 km of a commercial mating apiary at Belén, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica were targeted. Thirty-eight feral colonies were discovered in the 12.5-km2 study plot between 13 May and 6 June 1992. Abatement techniques included dispensing avermectin-ivermectin paste (applied manually to the abdominal tergites of drones captured during mating flights) and acephate-treated sucrose syrup bait (retrieved by foragers), and spraying nests directly with pyrethroids. Twenty-one of the known colonies were killed or severely weakened by treatments made between 27 May and 5 June. Mating control in pre-abatement (n = 27) and post-abatement (n = 26) queens was estimated by measuring changes in morphology and in frequencies of allozymes (malate dehydrogenase-1100 and hexokinase-1100) of worker progeny relative to reference populations of workers from local Africanized (n = 35) and imported European (n =23) colonies. Five of 23 morphological features shifted significantly toward the European form after abatement. Significantly more post-abatement colonies (85%) than pre-abatement colonies (63%) were classified by multivariate discriminant analysis as European (ie with a probability of Africanization of < 50%). Paternal frequencies of both allozymes were shifted significantly toward European frequencies following abatement; malate dehydrogenase decreased 26% and hexokinase increased 43%. Overall the results suggest that abatement may be useful in augmenting other mating control methods (eg, drone flooding and controlling mating times) but that it is probably not feasible as a unilateral approach to achieving acceptable mating control in heavily Africanized areas.

Key words: Africanized honey bee / mating control / avermectin / acephate / abatement / pest control