The Darwin cure for apiculture?
Natural selection and managed honey bee health
Peter Neumann (1) , Tjeerd Blacquière (2)
(1) Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
(2) Bees@wur, Bio-interactions and Plant Health, Wageningen UR, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Running head: Natural selection and managed honey bee health
Recent major losses of managed honey bee, Apis mellifera, colonies at a global scale have resulted in a multitude of research efforts to identify the underlying mechanisms. Numerous factors acting singly and/or in combination have been identifie, ranging from pathogens, over nutrition to pesticides. However, the role of apiculture in limiting natural selection has largely been ignored. This is unfortunate, because honey bees are more exposed to environmental stressors compared to other livestock and management can severely compromise bee health. Here, we briefly review apicultural factors that influence bee health and focus on those most Accepted Article This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. likely interfering with natural selection, which offers a broad range of evolutionary applications for field practice. Despite intense breeding over centuries, natural selection appears to be much more relevant for the health of managed A. mellifera colonies than previously thought. We conclude that sustainable solutions for the apicultural sector can only be achieved by taking advantage of natural selection and not by attempting to limit it.
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