Apitoxin harvest affects population development but not the hygienic behavior of African-derived honey bees
Keywords:beekeeping, venom harvest, management, brood areas
The biological properties of apitoxin have prompted its production for use in human and animal health applications. However, the apitoxin harvest triggers a defense reaction in honeybee colonies, which includes the release of alarm pheromones (isopentyl acetate and 2-heptanone), which cause stress and could cause behavioral changes that influence the routine activities of the colony. Considering the lack of data in the literature describing the effects of the prolonged harvesting of apitoxin, the present study conducted over a period of one year, aimed to investigate whether the apitoxin harvest influences population development and hygienic behavior of African-derived Apis mellifera (L.). We observed that apitoxin harvest affected the uncapped brood area of the colonies during the months of April, May, and June, and affected the capped brood area in July. The hygienic behavior of the colonies was not affected. Furthermore, we observed that during the study year, there was loss by abandonment of nine of the colonies subjected to apitoxin harvesting. We conclude that under the conditions of this study, the apitoxin harvest can negatively influence the development of the colony population during certain times of the year, without affecting the hygienic behavior of the colonies.
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