Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Short-sighted evolution of virulence in parasitic honeybee workers (Apis mellifera capensis Esch.).

Abstract

The short-sighted selection hypothesis for parasite virulence predicts that winners of within-host competition are poorer at transmission to new hosts. Social parasitism by self-replicating, female-producing workers occurs in the Cape honeybee Apis mellifera capensis, and colonies of other honeybee subspecies are susceptible hosts. We found high within-host virulence but low transmission rates in a clone of social parasitic A. m. capensis workers invading the neighbouring subspecies A. m. scutellata. In contrast, parasitic workers from the endemic range of A. m. capensis showed low within-host virulence but high transmission rates. This suggests a short-sighted selection scenario for the host-parasite co-evolution in the invasive range of the Cape honeybee, probably facilitated by beekeeping-assisted parasite transmission in apiaries.