Research Paper Results
This study shows that under US commercial beekeeping conditions colonies headed by more hygienic queens have significantly less disease and produce more honey.
All queens used were open mated. Hygienic queens were daughters reared from one breeder colony with high levels of freeze killed brood (FKB) removal. Standard queens were daughter queens reared from one (1996) or two (1995) standard commercial colonies not tested for hygienic behaviour.
The first experiment was carried out in 3 apiaries in Wisconsin in 1995. It compared colonies headed by daughter queens reared from a hygienic breeder colony (100% FKB removal over 48 hours) mated in Wisconsin with colonies headed by standard queens mated in Texas. The colonies with hygienic queens had significantly greater FKB removal, 83% v. 59%.
The second experiment measured the performance of commercial hives headed by the same two types of queens in 4 apiaries in Wisconsin. Queens were mated in Texas and hives transported to Wisconsin in May 1996. In June 1996, there were 49 colonies headed by marked hygienic queens and 46 headed by marked standard queens. The two groups were not different in strength (hygienic: 17.4 frames of bees and 10.1 frames of brood; standard: 17.3 and 10.0). In September a single FKB removal test was made. The hygienic colonies had significantly greater FKB removal, 94 v. 82%.
The hygienic colonies had significantly lower levels of chalkbrood. This difference could easily be seen when making hive inspections. The hygienic colonies also had lower levels of varroa. American foulbrood was seen in 6 (13%) of the standard-queen colonies in June and 5 more (10%) in September. However, American foulbrood was not seen in any of the hygienic colonies despite their being located in the same apiaries and even on the same hive stands as standard colonies with AFB. The honey crop from the hygienic colonies was 35% greater (40.5 v. 30.1 kg). This difference is highly significant.
Spivak, M., Reuter, G. S. 1998. Performance of hygienic honey bee colonies in a commercial apiary. Apidologie 29: 291-302.
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© F. Ratnieks, April 2016