Go East for Better Honey Bee Health: Apis cerana Is Faster at Hygienic Behavior than A. mellifera

Lin, Zheguang; Page, Paul; Li, Li; Qin, Yao; Zhang, Yingying; Hu, Fuliang; Neumann, Peter; Zheng, Huoqing; Dietemann, Vincent (2016). Go East for Better Honey Bee Health: Apis cerana Is Faster at Hygienic Behavior than A. mellifera. PLoS ONE, 11(9), e0162647. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0162647

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The poor health status of the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, compared to its Eastern counterpart, Apis cerana, is remarkable. This has been attributed to lower pathogen prevalence in A. cerana colonies and to their ability to survive infestations with the ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor. These properties have been linked to an enhanced removal of dead or unhealthy immature bees by adult workers in this species. Although such hygienic behavior is known to contribute to honey bee colony health, comparative data of A. mellifera and A. cerana in performing this task are scarce. Here, we compare for the first time the removal of freeze-killed brood in one population of each species and over two seasons in China. Our results show that A. cerana was significantly faster than A. mellifera at both opening cell caps and removing freeze-killed brood. The fast detection and removal of diseased brood is likely to limit the proliferation of pathogenic agents. Given our results can be generalized to the species level, a rapid hygienic response could contribute to the better health of A. cerana. Promoting the fast detection and removal of worker brood through adapted breeding programs could further improve the social immunity of A. mellifera colonies and contribute to a better health status of the Western honey bee worldwide.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Institute of Bee Health

UniBE Contributor:

Neumann, Peter

Subjects:

500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Submitter:

Gina Retschnig

Date Deposited:

02 Feb 2017 14:46

Last Modified:

05 Feb 2017 02:11

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0162647

PubMed ID:

27606819

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.92940

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/92940

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