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Honey bee colonies from different races show variation in defenses against the varroa mite in a 'common garden'

Kence, Meral
Giray, Tugrul
Kence, Aykut
Honey bee [Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae)] genetic diversity may be the key to responding to novel health challenges faced by this important pollinator. In this study, we first compared colonies of four honey bee races, A. m. anatoliaca, A. m. carnica, A. m. caucasica, and A. m. syriaca from Turkey, with respect to honey storage, bee population size, and defenses against varroa. The mite Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman (Acari: Varroidae) is an important pest of honey bee colonies. There are genetic correlates with two main defenses of bees against this parasite: hygienic behavior, or removing infested brood, and grooming, which involves shaking and swiping off mites and biting them. In the second part of this study, we examined the relationship of these two types of defenses, hygiene and grooming, and their correlation with infestation rates in 32 genetically diverse colonies in a 'common garden' apiary. Mite biting was found to be negatively correlated with mite infestation levels