Survey for Nosema spp. in Belize apiaries

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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 52 (2) pp.62-66
April 2013
Article Title

Survey for Nosema spp. in Belize apiaries


Juliana Rangel, Brenna E Traver, Glen Stevens, Mario Howe and Richard D Fell


Nosemosis, one of the most prevalent diseases affecting adult honey bees (Bailey, 1981; Matheson, 1993), is caused by the microsporidia Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. Nosemosis is transmitted horizontally through a faecal-oral route, whereby uninfected adult bees ingest Nosema spores from contaminated food and faecal material from infected bees (Fries, 1993; Fries, 1997). The spores germinate within the newly infected bee, with millions of new spores being generated within a few weeks after initial transmission (Bailey and Ball, 1991). While the midguts of workers infected with N. apis appear white and distended, and their respective colonies exhibit faecal streaking on the hive bodies and comb (Hassanein, 1953; Fries, 1993), infection by N. ceranae does not show obvious external symptoms. Despite these key symptomatic differences between the two Nosema species, colonies infected with either one species, or both, have shown significant reductions in worker populations (Wang et al., 1970; Higes et al., 2008) and honey production (Hassanein, 1953; Rinderer and Sylvester, 1978; Anderson and Giacon, 1992; Malone et al., 1995), mainly caused by worker mortality associated with digestive disorders and shortened lifespan (Hassanein, 1953). Spores produced by the two Nosema species are very similar in shape and thus are difficult to differentiate using traditional light microscopy protocols. For this reason, reliable diagnosis of nosemosis caused by N. ceranae is usually performed in the laboratory using molecular tools (Higes et al., 2006; Klee et al., 2007; Paxton et al., 2007; Traver and Fell, 2011a, b).


Africanized honey bees, Apis mellifera, Belize, Nosema apis, Nosema ceranae, PCR analysis

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