Honey bee flying away
Honey bee

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Varroa destructor



Taxonomic lineage

cellular organisms - Eukaryota - Fungi/Metazoa group - Metazoa - Eumetazoa - Bilateria - Coelomata - Protostomia - Panarthropoda - Arthropoda - Chelicerata - Arachnida - Acari - Parasitiformes - Mesostigmata - Monogynaspida - Dermanyssina - Dermanyssoidea - Varroidae - Varroa - Varroa destructor

Genus Varroa

The genus Varroa (the only genus in family Varroidae) is represented by four species:

Brief facts


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Life cycle (developmental stages)

Varroa mite is obligate parasite throughout its life cycle, it does not have a free-living stage and is always found in close association with its host.

There are 3 distinct phases in V. destructor female life cycle: ontogenesis, phoretic phase and reproductive phase. The female can have 2 or 3 successful reproductive phases under natural conditions and up to 7 in the laboratory. The male mite has only one reproductive episode when he copulates with and fertilizes his sisters in the brood cell. After this, he dies.


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Methods of control

Biological methods

Biological methods rely on peculiarities of mite biology by controlling its population at points of its life cycle where the mite is most vulnerable. One of the best strategies is to breed bees that would be naturally resistant to the mite parasitism. Even small changes in duration of bee's post-capping stage or in bee's hygienic habits can prove crucial for mite eradication.

Several eco-friendly approaches were proposed. Unfortunately most of them are very labor and time consuming and are not suitable for commercial honey producers.

A biotechnological method, the "trapping comb technique" (Maul et al., 1983, 1988) has been suggested. The queen is restricted to a single brood comb which attracts majority of the reproductive mites in the colony. After 3 brood cycles more than 90% of the mite population can be trapped and subsequently removed from the colony by this technique.

Partial control in lightly infested apiaries can be obtained with smoke from a burning plant material that cause mite knockdown (for example, tobacco). Smoke dislodges mites and can be used periodically to remove those that subsequently emerge from brood cells. A sticky board is used in conjunction with smoke to trap dislodged mites.

Chemical control

Over the last 15 years, the most noted synthetic or so-called hard acaricides against V. destructor are the organophosphate coumaphos (Checkmite®, Asuntol®, Perizin®), the pyrethroids tau-fluvalinate (Apisan®, Klartan®, Mavrik®) and Flumethrin (Bayvarol®), as well as the formamidine amitraz. Disadvantages of using hard acaricides include: possibility of harming bees, persistence and accumulation in the environment and in bee products, and development of resistant mites.

Organic acids and essential oils, such as formic acid, oxalic acid, lactic acid and thymol, represent soft acaricides for the control of Varroa. Advantages are efficacy, low risk of accumulation in bee products, low risk of eliciting mite resistance. Among disadvantages are difficulties in treatment implementation and harmfulness to humans (formic acid).

Treatment concepts

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