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Distance between honey bee Apis mellifera colonies regulates populations of Varroa destructor at a landscape scale
Maxcy P. NOLAN IV, Keith S. DELAPLANE
Apidologie (2017) 48:816
Inter-colony distance of Apis mellifera significantly affects colony numbers of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. We set up 15 apiaries, each consisting of two colonies. Each apiary pair was assigned an inter-colony distance of 0, 10, or 100 m. Colonies were rendered nearly mite-free, then one colony in each pair was seeded with 300 female mites (mite-donor colony), while the other remained uninoculated (mite-recipient colony). After 4 months of monitoring, a whole-model analysis showed that apiaries in which colonies were spaced 100 m apart contained lower average mite numbers than 0 or 10 m apiaries. There were interactions among colony type, distance, and sampling date; however, when there were significant differences, mite numbers were always lower in 100 m apiaries than 10 m apiaries. These findings pose the possibility that Varroa populations are resource regulated at a landscape scale: near-neighbor colonies constitute reproductive resource for mites in the form of additional bee brood.