No impact of hygienic behavior and viral coinfection on the development of European foulbrood in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies during blueberry pollination in Michigan

Peter D. Fowler, Declan C. Schroeder, Jessica L. Kevill, Meghan O.G. Milbrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

European foulbrood (EFB) is a severe disease of honey bee (Apis mellifera) larvae caused by the bacterium Linnaeus [Hymenoptera: Apidae]) Melissococcus plutonius (ex White) Bailey and Collins (Lactobacillales: Enterococcaceae). Many beekeepers in North America report severe EFB following blueberry pollination, but it is not clear what factors during pollination are related to clinical disease. Additionally, the impact that other factors such as viral load and hygienic behavior have on EFB has not been studied. In Spring of 2020 we enrolled 60 commercial honey bee colonies in a prospective cohort study. Colonies were inspected 3 times over the season with hive metrics and samples taken for viral testing. Each colony was tested for hygienic behavior twice and the score was averaged. Viral loads were determined by qPCR for deformed wing virus (DWV) A and B. We found no statistical difference in the EFB prevalence or severity between the 2 yards at any timepoint; 50% (n = 16) of the colonies in the holding yard and 63% (n = 17) in blueberry developed moderate to severe EFB over the study period. When colonies from both yards were pooled, we found no relationship between viral load or hygienic behavior and development of EFB. These results suggest that other factors may be responsible for driving EFB virulence and hygienic behavior is not likely helpful in managing this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalJournal of Insect Science
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America.

Keywords

  • European foulbrood
  • deformed wing virus
  • honey bee
  • hygienic behavior

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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