Comments on: “Varroa destructor: research avenues towards sustainable control”
Robert G Danka, Thomas E Rinderer, Marla Spivak and John Kefuss
A recent review in the Journal of Apicultural Research offers thoughts on research needed to achieve sustainable control of Varroa destructor (Dietemann et al., 2012). Discussion about such research is laudable because of the preeminent threat of the mite to honey bee health. However, while noting that identifying and breeding honey bee strains resistant to V. destructor would be ideal, the authors state that we are “not close to any such sustainable solutions”. We disagree with this negative characterization of the status of honey bees with genetically based mite resistance. Resistance is usually defined as the ability of an organism to limit parasite burden, while tolerance is the ability of an organism to limit the harm caused by a given burden (see Råberg et al., 2009). Resistance thus is the preferred term to describe honey bees that keep V. destructor infestation at relatively low levels.