Journal of Apicultural Science

Experiments on hygienic behaviour of honey bees

Journal of Apicultural Science. Volume 47, Issue 1, Pages 5-10, ISSN (Print) 1643-4439
It has been a long-debated question, if the colony is able to get rid of any agent of disease by themselves, without the help from outside factors. This is the reason, why the researchers follow with keen attention the hereditary hygienic behaviour of immune-mechanism among the bee colonies. Many experts are of the opinion that this form of behaviour has an important role in the defence against infectious and parasitic diseases.
We performed our experiments in the apiary of the Szent Istvan University, Gödöllo, (apiary 1), in a private apiary (apiary 2), and in the apiary of the Institute for Small Animal Research (apiary 3).
The differences in hygienic behaviour between colonies of the three apiaries can be seen in Tables 1-3. The average cleaning success was 74% in the first, and 72% in the second apiary, after 24 hours. In the third apiary, where the cleaning instinct as breeding trait was evaluated, the cleaning success was the highest, 86%, with 19.7% coefficient of variation. The results in the first two apiaries are nearly the same, in the third apiary, due to the freezing method, were significantly lower in the same colonies than the result of the piercing method.
In these experiments the very close results of observation for 24 and 48 hours show that the time factor has a little role in this behavioural pattern. In the case of the freezing method, the hygienic behaviour of colonies was nearly the same.
On the base of our experiments, we recommend the application of the pin piercing method for testing the hygienic behaviour. The systematic testing would be advisable in colonies kept for breeding and for queen rearing.
hygienic behaviour, cleaning success, frosty method, pin piercing method
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