Performance of hygienic honey bee colonies in a commercial apiary

Marla Spivak, Gary S. Reuter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Colonies with naturally mated queens from a hygienic line of Italian honey bees (Apis mellifera ligustica) were compared to colonies from a commercial line of Italian bees not selected for hygienic behavior. The following characteristics were compared: rate of removal of freeze-killed brood; amount of chalkbrood; incidence of American foulbrood; honey production; and the number of mites, Varroa jacobsoni, on adult bees. The hygienic colonies removed significantly more freeze-killed brood than the commercial colonies, had significantly less chalkbrood, had no American foulbrood, and produced significantly more honey than the commercial colonies. Estimates of the number of Varroa mites on adult bees indicated that the hygienic colonies had fewer mites than the commercial colonies in three of four apiaries. In previous studies on the relation between hygienic behavior and resistance to diseases and mites, the test colonies contained instrumentally inseminated queens. This is the first study to evaluate hygienic stock in large field colonies with naturally mated queens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-302
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • American foulbrood
  • Apis mellifera
  • Chalkbrood
  • Hygienic behavior
  • Varroa


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