Using morphometric analysis of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies to identify lineages and subspecies on the isolated island of Newfoundland

Dilday, Samantha E. (2022) Using morphometric analysis of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies to identify lineages and subspecies on the isolated island of Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The Island of Newfoundland’s honey bees, Apis mellifera Linnaeus, are relatively disease free compared to other populations and have an exceptional winter survival record. Perhaps these qualities arose due to the Island’s isolation from parasites such as Varroa destructor and lower pesticide use compared to the Canadian mainland. Independently, these two environmental qualities alone should make Newfoundland bees highly desirable to apiarists on mainland Canada. In 1980, due to the increase in Varroa destructor’s decimation of honey bee populations around the world, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador put into place legislation that prevents the importation of honey bees into the province. Over the last 40 years, commercial and hobby apiculture has increased drastically in popularity, but without the ability to bring in new honey bee stock there is a greater need to understand what lineages and subspecies are currently available to beekeepers on the Island. The program IdentiFly was used to determine colony lineages and subspecies by analyzing the species-specific vein patterns and wing shapes of honey bee workers. Analysis of wing vein patterns of worker bees has shown variations of honey bee subspecies currently occuring on the Island. The majority of colonies fell into one of two lineages: lineage C or lineage O; most colonies tested were categorized as a hybrid of these lineages. Further analysis suggests that colony subspecies found on the Island include Apis mellifera ligustica, Apis mellifera carnica, Apis mellifera cecropia, Apis mellifera armeniaca, Apis mellifera meda, and Apis mellifera scutellata. Subspecies population percentages vary across the Island due to local selection, the combination of natural and artificial pressures on colony survivability. A majority of colonies were identified as the Armenian honey bee, A. m. armeniaca. This suggests the adaptative advantage this specific honey bee subspecies has in relation to the influences in Newfoundland and mainland Canada.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15456
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 81-103).
Keywords: honey bee, morphometric, IdentiFly, lineage, subspecies
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Environmental Science
Date: March 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Honeybee--Newfoundland and Labrador--Morphology; Bee culture--Newfoundland and Labrador.

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