Sequential hygienic behavior in Carniolan honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica)

K.P. Gramacho, L.S. Gonçalves
Published: June 09, 2009
Genet. Mol. Res. 8 (2) : 655-663

Cite this Article:
K.P. Gramacho, L.S. Gonçalves (2009). Sequential hygienic behavior in Carniolan honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica). Genet. Mol. Res. 8(2): 655-663.

About the Authors
K.P. Gramacho,L.S. Gonçalves

Corresponding author
K.P. Gramacho


We examined the sequence, order or steps of hygienic behavior (HB) from pin-killed pupae until the removal of them by the bees. We conducted our study with four colonies of Apis mellifera carnica in Germany and made four repetitions. The pin-killing method was used for evaluation of the HB of bees. The data were collected every 2 h after perforation, totaling 13 observations. Additionally, for one hygienic colony and another non-hygienic colony, individual analyses of each dead pupa were made at every observation, including all details, steps or sequences of HB. The bees recognize the cells containing dead pupae within 2 h after perforation, initially making a hole in the capping, which is the beginning of HB. Uncapping of the dead brood cell reached maximum values from 4 to 6 h after perforation; after 24 h, practically all cells were already uncapped. Another variable, called brood partially removed, was analyzed 4 h after perforation, after the cells had been perforated, which involved uncapping, followed by partial or total removal of the brood. Maximum values of brood partially removed were found 10 h after perforation, though such cells could be found up to 48 h after perforation. The most frequent sequence of events in both colonies was: capped cell → punctured cell → brood partially removed → empty cell. A new model of three pairs of recessive genes (uncapping u1, u2 and remover r) was proposed in order to explain the genetic control of the HB in Apis mellifera. We recommend evaluating HB 24 h after perforation and using a correction factor to compensate for control removal levels. We found a series of details of HB, which allow a study of how various factors may affect the sequence of the activities involved in HB and investigation of the genetics that controls this process.

Key words: Hygienic behavior, Honey bees, Apis mellifera carnica, sequences of hygienic behavior, Carniolan bees.

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