Varroa Mite... The Honeybee's Enemy
Lecturer: John Hill
The Varroa mite jumped species from the Eastern honeybee, Apis cerana, to the Western honeybee, Apis mellifera due to beekeepers bringing colonies close together. The new variant, Varroa destructor has spread round the world relentlessly except for Australia. The western honeybee has little defences against this mite which its Eastern cousin has developed over evolutionary time. The life cycle of the honeybee and the Varroa mite are very closely linked and so it is impossible to eradicate the mite. This presentation will outline the relevant lifecycles of bee and mite. Adaptations that Varroa has inherited from its time with the Eastern honeybee, Apis cerana, such as shape and cuticle chemical mimicry will be outlined. The mites principal pathogenic trait is to introduce the Deformed Wing Virus directly into bee by biting. DWV can be present in vast numbers and curtail the abilities of the workers by a shorter and sicker life span. Beekeepers have adopted various strategies to combat the mite using broodless periods and trapping mites in sealed drone brood and destroy it. The beekeeper must be vigilant and test the numbers of mites in the colony on a regular basis to ensure that mites do not exceed the 1000 mark. Rearch is looking at alternative methods of control such as RNA interference. Learning Objectives: a) Life cycle of Honeybee b) Life cycle of the Varroa Mite c) Rapid worldwide spread. d) Varroa adaptations for parasitic succcess. e) Beekeeper treatments.