In the April 07 issue of ABJ on page 321, is this seemingly profound statement, “If you start these new colonies w/ queen cells, many of the varroa mites in that sealed brood will be too old to reproduce by the time the new queen’s brood is at the right stage for an infestation”.
This statement clearly defines why making splits reduces the presence of Varroa, something I’ve pondered.
In reviewing Varroa biology as defined in Mites of the Honey Bee, Webster/Delaplane explain that while in the cell, the spermathecae of mature female mites are filled by mating multiple times w/ their brother. Soon after mating is completed the sperm transport system in the female degenerates thereby preventing any future mating. Newly fertilized females cannot lay fertilized eggs immediately since the final stages of spermatogenesis occur in the female reproductive system, taking 4-13 days depending on the maturity of the female.
When the bee emerges from the cell, these mated mites leave the cell and become phoretic on other adult bees. When brood is present, phoretic periods of between 4.5 to 11 days have been recorded but must exceed months (5-6?) during the winter broodless period. In the lab, mites have been observed to live for up to 80-100 day while reproducing.
My question is about being “too old to reproduce”, can someone please explain?