Monday, December 10, 2007 - 8:53 AM

Deconstructing Varroa destructor: Bees, mites, and beekeepers

Katie Lee, Marla Spivak,, Eric Burkness,, and Roger Moon, University of Minnesota, Entomology, 1980 Folwell Ave Suite 219, St. Paul, MN

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a significant pest of the honey bee, Apis mellifera being the major cause of colony death in the U.S and Europe. To keep colonies alive, beekeepers often treat all of their colonies once or twice a year, irrespective of mite level. The aims of my research are to create a standard and efficient method to quantify colony and apiary levels of Varroa, and to develop a sampling guideline to help beekeepers make educated treatment decisions. My long term goal is to encourage beekeepers to reduce the use of in-hive pesticides in order to to prevent further evolution of miticide resistance and contamination of honey and wax. I sampled 28 apiaries, each containing 30 colonies, to determine how the mites are distributed within and among colonies and apiaries. A nested analysis of variance showed that the colony was the largest source of variation in mite infestation level, the mites are randomly distributed within a colony, and mites are clumped in the south-east facing hives within an apiary. Taylorís Power Law and Greenís Plan were used to determine the optimal sample size. Preliminary results show that 200 bees should be sampled from eleven colonies within an apiary to give an accurate estimate of mite level within an apiary. Further data analysis will incorporate a correction factor for the number of mites reproducing on pupae under wax-capped cells.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)
Species 2: Acari Parasitidae Varroa destructor (Varroa mite)