Selective breeding of honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Africanized areas

Ernesto Guzmán-Novoa, Robert E. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


After 5 yr of selection in a population of >3,000 honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies located in an Africanized area of Mexico, honey yields increased 15.9% per colony, whereas in colonies in unselected populations, productivity decreased >34%. The stinging behavior of colonies from the selected population decreased >54%, whereas the average wing length of workers increased 1.1%. Additionally, the percentage of colonies containing bees with African mitochondrial DNA decreased from 27.9% before selection to 7.5% after 4 generations of selection. Honey production was not correlated with wing length nor with stinging behavior, but stinging behavior and forewing length had a significant negative correlation (r = -0.54), showing the effect of Africanization on the defensiveness of colonies. The average annual selection responses were 0.87 kg 13.22 stings, and 0.02 mm for honey production, stinging behavior, and forewing length, respectively. These results suggest that the selected population became more European-like over time, and demonstrate that it is possible to breed gentler and more productive bees in Africanized areas without the use of instrumental insemination of queen bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-525
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Economic Entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Apis mellifera (Africanized)
  • Defensiveness
  • Honey production
  • Selective breeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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