Free Access
Volume 37, Number 4, July-August 2006
Page(s) 462 - 470
Published online 22 March 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 462-470
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006012

Infestation levels of Apis mellifera scutellata swarms by socially parasitic Cape honeybee workers (Apis mellifera capensis)

Stephan Härtela, Peter Neumanna, b, Per Krygerc, d, Carolin von der Heidee, Gert-Jan Moltzera, Robin M. Crewec, Job P. van Praaghe and Robin F.A. Moritza

a  Institut für Zoologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Hoher Weg 4 , 06099 Halle (Saale), Germany
b  Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, 61440 Grahamstown, South Africa
c  Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
d  Forskningscenter Flakkebjerg, 4200 Slagelse, Denmark
e  FB Gartenbau, Universität Hannover, Herrenhäuserstr. 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany

(Received 12 October 2005 - revised 14 November 2005 - accepted 14 November 2005 - published online 22 March 2006)

Abstract - A single clonal lineage of socially parasitic Cape honeybee workers, Apis mellifera capensis, has caused dramatic losses in managed populations of A. m. scutellata, raising concerns that wild populations might also be affected. We surveyed A. m. scutellata swarms at 27 localities in beekeeping areas (N = 87) and in nature reserves (N = 79). While eleven swarms were infested in beekeeping areas, we found no infestations in nature reserves. Eight swarms had no symptoms except workers with black tergites. However, DNA data revealed that these workers are not parasitic, showing that diagnoses based on tergite colour alone yield false positive results. Nevertheless, it is practical because we had no false negative diagnoses either. Nature reserves may be important refuges to protect wild A. m. scutellata populations against imported honeybees.

Key words: Apis mellifera scutellata / Apis mellifera capensis / honeybee / social parasitism / wild population

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006