Synergistic Mixture for Inducing Hygienic Behavior in Honey Bees, and Related Composition and Methods

Principal Investigators: Kaira Wagoner, Olav Rueppell

Application Number: 62/831,277

UNCG Innovation: 19-0003

Category: Chemistry & Biochemistry


So far, only crude methods for selection of hygienic behavior in honey bees exist. We have developed a new assay that is based on a chemical application to honey bee wax combs, Its advantages over existing practices are practicality, utility, and biological relevance. The improved hygienic assay consists of a chemical mixture in hexane.

We believe the chemical assay described above is an improvement over existing assays for hygienic behavior because the assay:

  • Is based on natural honey bee brood stress signals (rather than signals merely perceived as “abnormal”
    or signals associated with death, as in the liquid nitrogen freeze-killed brood (LNFKB) and pin-kill assays)
  • Is rapid (2 hours rather than 24 hours, as is common in the LNFKB and pin-kill assays)
  • Is convenient (can be applied easily and quickly, and does not require use of liquid nitrogen as in the LNFKB, or manipulation of individual cells as in the pin-kill assay)
  • Appears to be a better predictor than the LNFKB assay of colony mite infestation level
  • Appears to be a better predictor than the LNFKB assay of colony mite removal ability
  • Improves the resolution of colonies considered to be “hygienic”, allowing discrimination of colonies that remove both infested and non-infested (healthy) brood

Immediate & Future Applications:

  • Tool for improved selective breeding of hygienic honey bees (honey bee breeders)
  • Tool for measuring colony hygiene level and facilitating management decisions (beekeepers)
  • Tool for inducing self-removal of social insect pests (termites, ants)

Inventor info: Kaira Wagoner

Inventor Info: Olav Ruepell