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Predictive Markers of Honey Bee Colony Collapse

Dainat, Benjamin, Evans, Jay D., Chen, Yan Ping, Gauthier, Laurent, Neumann, Peter, Aguilar, Patricia V.
Apis mellifera, Deformed wing virus, Nosema ceranae, Varroa destructor, colony collapse disorder, genes, honey bee colonies, immunity, insect physiology, mites, monitoring, parasites, pathogens, screening, viruses, vitellogenin, winter
Across the Northern hemisphere, managed honey bee colonies, Apis mellifera , are currently affected by abrupt depopulation during winter and many factors are suspected to be involved, either alone or in combination. Parasites and pathogens are considered as principal actors, in particular the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor , associated viruses and the microsporidian Nosema ceranae . Here we used long term monitoring of colonies and screening for eleven disease agents and genes involved in bee immunity and physiology to identify predictive markers of honeybee colony losses during winter. The data show that DWV, Nosema ceranae , Varroa destructor and Vitellogenin can be predictive markers for winter colony losses, but their predictive power strongly depends on the season. In particular, the data support that V. destructor is a key player for losses, arguably in line with its specific impact on the health of individual bees and colonies.