Exploring two honey bee traits for improving resistance against Varroadestructor: development and genetic evaluation

Matthieu Guichard, Benoit Droz, Pim Brascamp, Adrien von Virag, Markus Neuditschko, Benjamin Dainat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

For the development of novel selection traits in honey bees, applicability under field conditions is crucial. We thus evaluated two novel traits intended to provide resistance against the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor and to allow for their straightforward implementation in honey bee selection. These traits are new field estimates of already-described colony traits: brood recapping rate (‘Recapping’) and solidness (‘Solidness’). ‘Recapping’ refers to a specific worker characteristic wherein they reseal a capped and partly opened cell containing a pupa, whilst ‘Solidness’ assesses the percentage of capped brood in a predefined area. According to the literature and beekeepers’ experiences, a higher recapping rate and higher solidness could be related to resistance to V. destructor. During a four-year field trial in Switzerland, the two resistance traits were assessed in a total of 121 colonies of Apis mellifera mellifera. We estimated the repeatability and the heritability of the two traits and determined their phenotypic correlations with commonly applied selection traits, including other putative resistance traits. Both traits showed low repeatability between different measurements within each year. ‘Recapping’ had a low heritability (h2 = 0.04 to 0.05, depending on the selected model) and a negative phenotypic correlation to non-removal of pin-killed brood (r = −0.23). The heritability of ‘Solidness’ was moderate (h2 = 0.24 to 0.25) and did not significantly correlate with resistance traits. The two traits did not show an association with V. destructor infestation levels. Further research is needed to confirm the results, as only a small number of colonies was evaluated
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-231
Number of pages12
JournalInsects
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2021

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