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Title: Imported Russian Honey Bees: Quarantine and Initial Selection for Varroa Resistance

item Harris, Jeffrey
item Rinderer, Thomas
item Kuznetsov, Victor
item Danka, Robert - Bob
item Delatte, Gary
item De Guzman, Lilia
item Villa, Joseph

Submitted to: American Bee Journal
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2002
Publication Date: 8/1/2002
Citation: Harris, J.W., Rinderer, T.E., Kuznetsov, V., Danka, R.G., Delatte, G.T., De Guzman, L.I., Villa, J.D. 2002. Imported Russian Honey Bees: Quarantine and Initial Selection for Varroa Resistance. American Bee Journal 142(8):591-596

Interpretive Summary: The Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Laboratory of the USDA, Agricultural Research Service maintains the USDA-ARS Honey Bee Quarantine Station on Grand Terre Island, a barrier island just off the Louisiana coast. The Quarantine Station held various groups of imported queen honey bees during 4 to 6-month periods when federal and state regulatory agencies periodically inspected the shipments for diseases. Imports originated from the former Yugoslavia in 1989, Great Britain in 1990, and most recently, from the Primorye Territory of far-eastern Russia in 1997 and each year during 1999-2001. Most of the importations involved co-operative research agreements between our laboratory and an official scientific counterpart from the exporting country. Each importation required official permits from the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF), and officials from the exporting country. The primary function of quarantine is to provide United States honey bee researchers with a mechanism to import experimental stocks while protecting the United States beekeeping industry from diseases or parasites that may be carried by imported queen bees.

Technical Abstract: The USDA, ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA imported various stocks of honey bees from around the world for research purposes since the late 1980's. All imported queens were quarantined in colonies for 4-6 months at the USDA, ARS Honey Bee Quarantine Station located on Grand Terre Island, LA. This barrier island is an ideal quarantine site because it is separated from mainland honey bee populations by about 25 miles of coastal estuaries where no feral honey bees live. Quarantine is needed to allow inspectors from the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry, and scientists from the Baton Rouge Bee Lab to periodically inspect colonies for diseases. Discovery of any parasite or disease that threatens the U.S. beekeeping industry warrants immediate destruction of imported queen bees. This protective measure has never been used because no threats have been discovered. When officials from APHIS released imported queen bees from quarantine, the queens were moved to Baton Rouge for research purposes. The last four groups of imported queens (each year in 1997 and 1999-2001) were Russian honey bees from near Vladivostk, Russia. Interest in these bees stems from their high levels of resistance to tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi) and varroa mites (Varroa destructor). Varroa resistance has been greatly improved in Russian honey bees through selective breeding of imported stock by the Baton Rouge Bee Lab.