Occurrence of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) pathogens in commercial and traditional hives

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This work was aimed at the detection of the differences in the occurrence of seven bee pathogens between bee colonies kept in commercial and traditional ways.

The research was conducted on 120 apparently healthy, commercially kept colonies in DB hives and 24 traditionally kept colonies in primitive, so-called trmka hives on the Pester Plateau. Brood samples were taken from all colonies to assess the occurrence of bee brood disease agents (Paenibacillus larvae, Melissococcus plutonius, Ascosphaera apis and sacbrood virus – SBV) and adult bee pathogens (deformed wing virus – DWV, chronic bee paralysis virus – CBPV and acute bee paralysis virus – ABPV).

PCR diagnostics was used in all cases, in compliance with the existing methods adopted by OIE. Concerning bee brood disease-causing agents, in commercial hives P. larvae (16.67% samples), A. apis (15.83%) and the SBV (96.67%) were confirmed, whilst in traditional hives, SBV was the only one detected (33.33%). M. plutonius was not found in any sample.

As for adult bee diseases, in both commercial and traditional hives all of the three viruses were detected (DWV, ABPV, CBPV), but their occurrence in the former (100.00, 100.00 and 83.33%, respectively) was significantly (p<0.001) higher than in the latter (33.33% occurrence of each). No commercially kept colonies were free from all disease causes, while in the traditionally kept group there were 66.66% of such colonies.

It can be concluded that the traditional way of beekeeping provides significantly better conditions for maintenance of bee health and their resistance to pathogens.

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