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Behavior of varroa mites in worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees



Behavior of varroa mites in worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees



Experimental and Applied Acarology 49(4): 329-338



The ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor is currently the most important pest of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Because mite reproduction occurs within the sealed cell, the direct observation of varroa activity inside the cell is difficult. A video observation method using transparent polystyrol cells containing infested brood was used to analyze the behavior of varroa mites in worker brood of Africanized honey bees. We recorded how mites feed on the larva and pupa, construct a fecal accumulation site and how the bee larva carried out some longitudinal movements around the cell. The feeding activity of the foundress mite varies during the course of the cycle. On the prepupa mites were found to feed often (0.3 +/- 0.2 bouts h(-1)) for a period of 8.7 +/- 8.4 min h(-1) and there was no preference for a specific segment as feeding site. On the opposite, during the pupal stage mites fed less often (0.1 +/- 0.1 bouts h(-1)) for a period of 6.2 +/- 4.0 min h(-1) and almost always at a particular site (92.4%). On pupa, 83.7% of the feeding was on the 2nd abdominal segment (n = 92), and only few perforations were found on the thorax. Varroa shows a preference for defecation in the posterior part of the cell (cell apex), close to the bee's anal zone. We found a high correlation between the position of the feeding site on the pupa and the position of the fecal accumulation on the cell wall. Most infested cells have only one fecal accumulation site and it was the favorite resting site for the mite, where it spent 24.3 +/- 3.9 min h(-1). Longitudinal displacements were observed in 28.0% (n = 25) of the analyzed bee larvae. Turning movements around the cell, from the bottom to the top, were carried out by these larvae, mainly during the second day (47.7 +/- 22.5 min h(-1)), just before pupation, with a total time of 874.9 +/- 262.2 min day(-1) (n = 7 individuals). These results in worker brood of Africanized bees demonstrate adaptations of varroa mites to parasitizing the developing bee inside the capped brood cells.

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Accession: 024226292

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PMID: 19381843

DOI: 10.1007/s10493-009-9266-y


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