Free Access
Volume 35, Number 4, July-August 2004
Page(s) 359 - 364
Apidologie 35 (2004) 359-364
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004022

Old honey bee brood combs are more infested by the mite Varroa destructor than are new brood combs

Giancarlo A. Piccirilloa, b and David De Jongc

a  Departamento de Biologia/Área Entomologia, FFCLRP-USP, 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil
b  Departamento Fitosanitario, Museo de Artrópodos (MALUZ), La Universidad del Zulia, AA. 525, Maracaibo, Venezuela
c  Departamento de Genética, FMRP-USP, 14.049-900 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil

(Received 12 June 2003; revised 18 August 2003; accepted 12 September 2003)

Abstract - Varroa destructor preferentially invades larger honey bee brood cells. Consequently, it was expected that brood in old combs with reduced-size cells would be less infested than the brood in new comb cells. An old brood comb was placed in each of eight Africanized honey bee colonies, along with a new, naturally constructed comb (without comb foundation). The mean percentage of brood cells infested with V. destructor was significantly higher in the old combs (22.6%), than in the new combs (9.75%), even though the inside width of the cells was significantly smaller in the old (4.58 mm) than in the new combs (4.85 mm). Within the range where there was an overlap in the width of brood cells between old and new combs, which was from 4.5 to 4.9 mm, the old comb cells were over four times more frequently infested with mites than were the new comb cells. Some factor other than cell size makes old brood comb cells much more attractive to V. destructor than newly constructed brood comb.

Key words: Varroa destructor / natural comb / comb cell size / infestation / old comb

Corresponding author: David De Jong

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004