Behavioural effects of volatiles introduced into honey bee colonies for Varroa mite management
LE3 .A278 2015
Bachelor of Science
Varroa destuctor mites are economically important pests of European honey bees (Apis mellifera). Evolved resistance to miticides has increased urgency for the development of alternate control methods. I tested whether mite behaviour could be modified using traps containing odours that have been previously identified as being involved in host-finding behaviour, including 2-hydroxy-hexanoic acid, palmitic acid, butyric acid, and octanoic acid (three putative attractants and one deterrent). Small traps were baited with these chemicals and deployed within bee colonies. Out of 396 trap deployments, 254 were recovered and 13 mites were trapped. Effects on honey bee behaviour were unexpected; many traps were pulled out of the honeycomb by workers. Removal rates differed by treatment (𝜒42 = 11.3, P = 0.02). Octanoic acid traps were least likely to be removed from colonies by bees and butyric acid was most likely to be removed (Table 4). Traps with octanoic acid were least likely to be removed and traps with butyric acid were most likely to be removed. Traps containing decoys with lower concentrations of decoy compounds were expelled less frequently and sealed with wax (capped) more frequently. Bees more frequently removed from colonies shorter traps with a lower vertical profile than they did longer traps. The unintended impact on bee behaviour, in addition to the lack of response from mites, means that my current approach is not yet an alternative to current mite controls. However, the data provided unique insights into honey bee communication in colony settings, and suggests careful consideration regarding indirect effects of such hive interventions on honey bees.
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