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The effect of induced queen replacement on Nosema spp. infection in honey bee (Apis mellifera iberiensis) colonies

Authors

  • Cristina Botías,

    1. Laboratorio de Patología Apícola, Centro Apícola Regional, JCCM, 19180 Marchamalo, Spain.
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  • Raquel Martín-Hernández,

    1. Laboratorio de Patología Apícola, Centro Apícola Regional, JCCM, 19180 Marchamalo, Spain.
    2. Instituto de Recursos Humanos para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (INCRECYT). Fundación Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Albacete, Spain.
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  • Joyce Días,

    1. Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
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  • Pilar García-Palencia,

    1. Statistics Department, CTI. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28006 Madrid, Spain.
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  • María Matabuena,

    1. Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
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  • Ángeles Juarranz,

    1. Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
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  • Laura Barrios,

    1. Statistics Department, CTI. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28006 Madrid, Spain.
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  • Aránzazu Meana,

    1. Departamento de Sanidad Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain.
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  • Antonio Nanetti,

    1. Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Unità di ricerca di apicoltura e bachicoltura, CRA-API, Via di Saliceto 80, 40128 Bologna, Italy.
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  • Mariano Higes

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratorio de Patología Apícola, Centro Apícola Regional, JCCM, 19180 Marchamalo, Spain.
      E-mail mhiges@jccm.es; Tel. (+34) 949 250 026; Fax (+34) 949 250 176.
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E-mail mhiges@jccm.es; Tel. (+34) 949 250 026; Fax (+34) 949 250 176.

Summary

Microsporidiosis of adult honeybees caused by Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae is a common worldwide disease with negative impacts on colony strength and productivity. Few options are available to control the disease at present. The role of the queen in bee population renewal and the replacement of bee losses due to Nosema infection is vital to maintain colony homeostasis. Younger queens have a greater egg laying potential and they produce a greater proportion of uninfected newly eclosed bees to compensate for adult bee losses; hence, a field study was performed to determine the effect of induced queen replacement on Nosema infection in honey bee colonies, focusing on colony strength and honey production. In addition, the impact of long-term Nosema infection of a colony on the ovaries and ventriculus of the queen was evaluated. Queen replacement resulted in a remarkable decrease in the rates of Nosema infection, comparable with that induced by fumagillin treatment. However, detrimental effects on the overall colony state were observed due to the combined effects of stressors such as the queenless condition, lack of brood and high infection rates. The ovaries and ventriculi of queens in infected colonies revealed no signs of Nosema infection and there were no lesions in ovarioles or epithelial ventricular cells.

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