Hygienic behaviour in honey bees

Bigio, Gianluigi (2014) Hygienic behaviour in honey bees. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on hygienic behaviour in honey bees. In beekeeping, brood diseases incur heavy economical and biological costs and are no longer effectively treated with chemicals. Previous research has shown how hygienic behaviour, a trait expressed by c. 10% of unselected colonies, can be effective in reducing the impact and presence of such diseases. Hygienic behaviour is experimentally measured using the freeze-killed brood (FKB) bioassay and can be increased by selective breeding, generating lines of hygienic colonies.
Chapter 4 demonstrates that the relative rarity of hygienic behaviour in unselected colonies is not because it incurs a cost via the removal of healthy brood.
Chapter 5 - 6 focus on the impact of external factors on hygienic behaviour. Specifically, we demonstrate that the presence of brood, amount of food, and strength of the colony affect hygienic levels (Chapter 5). Chapter 6 shows that hygienic behaviour does not correlate with agressiviness or agitated behaviour.
When breeding honey bees, it is possible to exploit instrumental insemination to have complete control over the genetic composition of the resulting progeny. This technique is however laborious and requires particular equipment and training. In Chapter 7 we show that it is possible to obtain acceptable levels of hygienic behaviour without artificial insemination.
Chapter 8 illustrates how we obtained the first breeing line of hygienic honey bees through a selective breeding program that saw its first milestone in autumn 2013 when we detected high levels of hygienic behaviour. The results obtained represent the foundation for future research projects.
Chapter 9 presents a valid, minimal methodology to keep virgin queens. We tested a variety of methods and factors to determine the best, mos cost-effective way to maintain queens for the week prior their introduction into a queenless hive.
The results obtained provide some insights on both basic and applied aspects of honey bee breeding for hygienic behaviour and represent the foundation of what will be an ongoing selection programme towards a disease-resistant honey bee.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0360 Invertebrates > QL0434 Arthropoda > QL0463 Insects > QL0563 Hymenoptera > QL0568.A-Z Systematic divisions. By family, A-Z > QL0568.A6 Apidae (Honeybees, etc.)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2014 07:40
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015 13:59
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/51384

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