Behaviours of honeybees can reduce the probability of deformed wing virus outbreaks in Varroa destructor-infested colonies

Francis Mugabi, Kevin J. Duffy*, Frank van Langevelde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Honeybees are important plant pollinators. Unfortunately, there is a growing increase in the loss of honeybee colonies, and this is having a serious economic impact on crop farmers. A major cause of these losses is the parasitic mite Varroadestructor, which is a vector of deformed wing virus (DWV). Some bee species have resistant mechanisms, such as grooming and hygienic behaviours, against Varroa mites. A clear understanding of the effects of these control behaviours on the mites and the viruses they transmit can be important in reducing colony losses. Here, a stochastic model is formulated and analysed to consider the extent to which these control behaviours reduce the probability of an outbreak of DWV in honeybee colonies. Vector and bee-to-bee transmission routes are considered. Using branching process theory, it is shown that without any hygienic or grooming behaviour, a large probability of a DWV outbreak is possible. Also, if bees apply grooming or hygienic behaviour, this can reduce the probability of a virus outbreak, especially in the case of vector transmission, where it can be reduced to zero. Hygienic behaviour is the most significant factor in reducing a DWV outbreak. Thus, bee selection for hygienic behaviour may be important to reduce honeybee colony losses caused by DWV.

Original languageEnglish
JournalModeling Earth Systems and Environment
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Branching process
  • DWV
  • Grooming behaviour
  • Hygienic behaviour
  • Varroadestructor

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