Varroa Mite Research

I’ve been doing a bit of varroa mite research this morning. My goal is to better understand the reproductive habits as well as the life expectancy of the mite. I know that brood breaks work to reduce mite numbers. I’m now trying to understand why. Here are some links to the articles that I’ve found interesting. Bear in mind I don’t always have time to read every word I try to skim the article and glean from the pertinent portions that seem to be targeted toward my interest.

I’ll be adding to this post as I find more varroa targeted reading.

Here is another article that outlines the life span to a point.

The phoretic period of the mite appears to contribute to the mite’s reproductive ability. Although mites artificially transferred to brood cells immediately after they mature are able to reproduce, their reproductive rate is lower than that of mites undergoing a phoretic period. The phoretic period may last 4.5 to 11 days when brood is present in the hive or as long as five to six months during the winter when no brood is present in the hive. Consequently, female mites living when brood is present in the colony have an average life expectancy of 27 days, yet in the absence of brood, they may live for many months.

Here is the link:

This is why a brood break does not eradicate the mite entirely. There are several other points about detection and control that you can take from this article. I’d like to note that there are certain points in this article that are not my favorite.

The article above is mostly written from the female mite perspective, therefore I don’t have any basis for what happens to the male mite. I would assume that when the newly emerged bee cleans out its cell that the male mite is removed at that point. I have read that the male never leaves the cell that it starts in. I have not read anything to this effect but I believe it would make sense. It doesn’t matter much since the female can produce a male anyway. The more I research the more questions I have. Does anyone reading this have any knowledge on the subject to share?

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2 comments on “Varroa Mite Research
  1. I am not sure if you had a chance to read the articles from Michael Bush ( on the topic of mite prevention but he has a strong belief that reverting to natural comb size helps reduce varroa mite reproduction. Food for thought :). I have posted more details on the topic of natural comb on my blog and started to switch one of my hives.

    • Brian says:

      Mites do prefer larger cell size. That is why they tend to gravitate toward drone cells. I have both foundation and foundation less in every hive. I don’t really worry about what size their drawing.

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