Hygienic behaviour (HB) in honeybees reflects social immunity against diseases and parasites. Young bees showing HB detect, uncap, and remove infested brood from a colony. We developed a new variant of freeze-killed brood (FKB*) test to optimise the duration of the HB test, the costs, and safety for the operator. In 2016, we performed a comparison between traditional FKB and FKB* on 25 unselected and unrelated colonies in the apiary of the University of Milano. To estimate repeatability and heritability, in 2017 and 2018, FKB* was used to phenotype, respectively, 56 and 95 colonies twice, in the context of a breeding programme. FKB* took less time and required a smaller amount of liquid nitrogen. The two methods showed a correlation between colony effects of 0.93, indicating that they measure the same trait. For single records, the phenotypic correlation between both methods was 0.64. Estimated heritability and repeatability for single records HB were 0.23 and 0.24, respectively, whilst heritability for the average HB value of two records was 0.37.
- freeze-killed brood test
- hygienic behaviour