Social apoptosis in honey bee superorganisms

Date: Mon, 13 Jun 2016 11:45:17 -0400
From: Bill Hesbach

Subject: Weaker Bee

Can anyone offer some perspective on this study?

Dave Black summary:

> This (Open Access) article published in Nature’s Scientific Reports raises an interesting perspective on the ‘natural’ tolerance of Apis cerana (the Eastern Honey bee) to Varroa destructor infections. Their experimental data suggests that rather than superior strength it might actually be a significant vulnerability that protects the colony from the mites. Young A.cerana larvae seem to be much more susceptible to varroa and much more likely to die. Their early death triggers hygienic behaviour early on, and the dead larvae and their parasites are removed quickly disrupting varroa’s ability to reproduce successfully. Just as old and diseased bees are thought to fly away to die, preventing the spread of disease, these young larvae confer a kind of social immunity with their early sacrifice.

Paul Page, Zheguang Lin, Ninat Buawangpong, Huoqing Zheng, Fuliang Hu, Peter Neumann, Panuwan Chantawannakul, Vincent Dietemann. Social apoptosis in honey bee superorganisms. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 27210 DOI: 10.1038/srep27210