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Archivos de Zootecnia

versión On-line ISSN 1885-4494versión impresa ISSN 0004-0592


INVERNIZZI, C. et al. Sanitary and nutritional characterization of honeybee colonies in Eucalyptus grandis plantations. Arch. zootec. [online]. 2011, vol.60, n.232, pp.1303-1314. ISSN 1885-4494.

In Uruguay, many beekeepers transport their colonies to Eucalyptus grandis plantations at the end of the summer and autumn, obtaining important honey harvests. However, at the end of the flowering period the colonies become extremely weakened undergoing high levels of mortality. Nutritional and health problems could explain the weakening of colonies. In order to find out the causes for this weakening, colonies of the same size were taken to an E. grandis plantation, split up in three groups differentiated by the availability of pollen. Throughout the flowering period we registered: the botanical origins and crude protein content of the incoming pollen, the body protein of the bees, the infection by Nosema ceranae and the infestation of Varroa destructor, the brood area and the production of honey. The most important findings were: i) the sustained decline in botanical diversity of pollen as the flowering period of E. grandis advanced until only pollen from this species remained; ii) pollen from E. grandis presented crude protein values close to 30%, but these gradually diminished reaching values lower than 20% towards the end of the flowering period; iii) those colonies which initially counted on pollen reserves presented bees with higher body protein a few days after settling in the plantation and lower levels of infection with N. ceranae during most of the flowering period; iv) pollen availability did not affect levels of infection by V. destructor, size of the brood area or honey production. Bee's nutritional deficit during E. grandis flowering could generate adequate conditions for the multiplication of N. ceranae. At the end of the Eucalyptus' flowering period colonies presented on average more than 90% of foraging workers infected with N. ceranae and 12% infection of adult bees with V. destructor. Incidence of both pathogens in weakened bees could explain colony losses.

Palabras clave : Apis mellifera; Nosema ceranae; Varroa destructor; Pollen; Honey production.

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