Identifying suitable queen rearing sites of Apis mellifera mellifera at a regional scale using morphometrics

publication date: May 30, 2014
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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 53 (2) pp. 279-287
DOI
10.3896/IBRA.1.53.2.09
Date
May 2014
Article Title

Identifying suitable queen rearing sites of Apis mellifera mellifera at a regional scale using morphometrics

Author(s)

Elise Maria Keller, Ian Harris and Paul Cross

Abstract

Honey bee decline in Europe has forced beekeepers to re-evaluate their management practices and breeding methods. Evidence suggests that the dark western honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) may be better adapted to the British climate, and consequently presents the potential for greater resistance to disease than other strains. Substantial hybridization of A. m. mellifera has taken place in Great Britain due to imports of subspecies from southern Europe (A. m. ligustica and A. m. carnica). This study evaluated the extent of hybridization at a regional scale in North Wales using morphometrics. By analysing honey bee wing venation and determining the cubital index (CI) and the discodial shift angle (DisA) the subspecies of each bee was determined. Analyses of 1830 wings from 61 colonies indicated a mean CI of 1.86 and a mean DisA of -0.37°. Most colonies consisted of hybrids of A. m. mellifera and A. m. ligustica with a slight predominance of A. m. mellifera  traits. Across all 61 colonies, 43.2% of bee colonies presented A. m. mellifera traits, although this masked considerable variation between colonies (3% to 93%). Spatial analysis identified areas where queen release in breeding programmes would be expected to increase the predominance of A. m. mellifera traits.

Keywords

Apis mellifera mellifera, Dark European honey bee, beekeeping, conservation, inbreeding, hybridization, wing morphology ecotypes

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