Open Access
Volume 38, Number 3, May-June 2007
Page(s) 259 - 267
Published online 14 June 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 259-267
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2007012

Persistence of the Landes ecotype of Apis mellifera mellifera in southwest France: confirmation of a locally adaptive annual brood cycle trait

James P. Strangea, Lionel Garneryb, c and Walter S. Shepparda

a  Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman Washington, 99164-6382, USA
b  Laboratoire Populations, Génétique et Évolution, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
c  Université de Versailles-St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Versailles, France

(Received 24 October 2005 - Revised 9 October 2006 - Accepted 11 October 2006 - Published online 14 June 2007)

Abstract - In 1966, an ecotype of honey bees in France was described as adapted to the local floral phenology. Colonies in the Landes region had a bimodal peak in annual colony brood cycle, one peak in early summer and one in autumn. This brood cycle was determined to be of genetic origin. While many beekeepers in this region cultivate the locally adapted bee, some beekeepers import stock from elsewhere in Europe. These importations led to concerns that the genetic character of the ecotype could be lost due to genetic introgression. We established two research apiaries in the center of the Landes region and measured brood area bi-weekly to assess colonies for the brood cycle trait. We observed the timing of drone production, and the timing and number of virgin queens produced. Brood cycle data from the current study were compared to data from the initial work on the Landes ecotype. Of the colonies tested, 48.3% had a brood cycle similar to the cycle described in 1966. Implications for conservation are discussed.

Key words: Apis mellifera mellifera / conservation biology / time series analysis / ecotype / annual colony cycle

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007