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Reproduction and population dynamics of the parasitic mite varroa jacobsoni and its dependence on the brood cycle of its host apis mellifera

Reproduction and population dynamics of the parasitic mite varroa jacobsoni and its dependence on the brood cycle of its host apis mellifera

Apidologie 15(4): 401-420

The reproductive behavior of Varroa was investigated by examining a naturally infested worker and drone brood and a worker brood infested with individually marked mites. Areas studied were how often Varroa is reproductive, how old the mites are when they start reproduction, and the multiplication rate of Varroa. For marking a mixture of cyanacrylate and a fluorescent pigment, was applied to the dorsal scutellum. To establish the infection dates, a series of bee brood was produced: the queen was restricted to 3 empty brood-combs between food-combs. In 6-day cycles, the frames containing the brood were removed and new empty ones added. The brood was set into the honey compartment of the colony until the 18th day. Then it was taken off and set into an incubator (34.degree. C, 70% humidity). For determining Varroa infestation, all newly emerged bees were controlled or the brood cells before emergence opened. An average of 1.73 female deutonymphs per fertile Varroa were counted in the series with marked mites and an average of 1.82 in naturally infested worker brood (total average = 1.8). In drone brood an average of 2.7 female offspring (deutonymphs) per Varroa was counted. Under natural conditions, 73% fertile mites were found in worker brood, and 95% fertile Varroa in drone brood. Seventy-eight percent reproduced only once and 22% twice. For the whole Varroa population a total reproductive rate for worker brood was .apprx. 1.6 adult daughters and for drone brood 2.9-3.2. Varroa mites preferred drone brood instead of worker brood by 8.6:1 during May. Daily infection rates were observed under optimal breeding condtions (infestation of Varroa:bees was 1:100). Mites of a parental generation entered brood cells more quickly than young mites for the 1st reproductive cycle. Mites in summer remain fertile for 50 days; 95% of the whole Varroa population occurred in brood cells during 24 days. A similar experiment was started with common bee colonies under natural conditions and various breeding situations. Results agreed with those found in the laboratory. Using the least-squares method, 57% of the Varroa population were found trying to infest pupae within 6 days. This depends on the supply of suitable brood cells.

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