Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) Honeybees

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  • #2063
    Profile photo of ThePath
    ThePath
    Keymaster

    Agricultural Research Services (ARS) are making positive strides in creating a strain of honeybee which is proactive in attacking the Varroa mite head on!

    ARS are focusing on creating honeybees with a certain genetic trait; Varroa Sensitive Hygiene. The VSH trait in the bee means it is more likely to find and remove mite infested pupae from the capped brood developing sealed inside the comb cells. This can be obviously difficult for the bees to detect as the mite attacks the brood within the capped cells and so rely on the protective layer of wax to escape the bees natural sanitation tendencies.

    ARS scientists at the agency’s Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, LA have developed honey bees with a high expression of this VSH trait. The VSH is a specific trait and form of hive hygeine that not all honeybees possess. The VSH developed bees show an aggressive pursuit of Varroa in the hive.

    Varroa on LarvaeThe Bees form groups and chew through an mite infested cell cap, lift out the infected brood and eject them from the broodnest.

    This hygiene destroys the mite’s frail offspring preventing the reproductive output of the mites and preventing the usual Varroa mite hive takeover!

    The team at ARS conducted field trials using 40 colonies with varying levels of VSH bees contained in each colony. The mite population growth was significantly lower in the VSH and hybrid colonies than in the colonies without VSH developed bees.

    Of course if you believe in evolution the bees will eventually develop this trait on their own but would the bee population be too decimated by then to recover. After all bee breeders have been messing around with bee behaviour for years, perhaps to the detriment of the bees themselves; perhaps breeders have been focusing on certain traits like honey production and temperament and not hygiene and disease resistance.

    Personally I think the discovery of the VSH trait is good for bees and humankind. I just wonder if fiddling with genetics is ever a good thing to do? What are your thoughts?


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    #2064
    Profile photo of Matija Kostomaj
    beequest
    Member

    Hello,

    sure VSH / SMR selection is the only way.

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