The ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor, in combination with viruses, is the main threat to honey bee colony survival in Europe. However, the ability of honey bee colonies to survive mite infestations without treatments evolved by natural selection in several managed, but genetically distinct European A. mellifera populations. Only two populations have so far been reported in peer-reviewed journals (Gotland, Avignon), but many more seem to exist as suggested by grey literature and personal communication in the field.
The Survivors Task Force aims at identifying such European honey bee populations, which are surviving mite infestations without treatment (Objective 1), and at understanding the mechanisms enabling colony survival in these populations (Objective 2).
Legend: Dorsal view of an adult female varroa mite (© F. Mondet)
Objective 1: Identification of colonies surviving without treatment
Identification of potentially “surviving