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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Westport, CT

    Default Basic Varroa Question

    What, exactly, is the mechanism/dynamic that the varroa mite produces that damages the colony to the point where they (often)fail? Is it that they are parasites that drain, via attachment, vital fluids? And they can then weaken enough individual bees in a hive to the point of collapse during the winter? Do they inject disease in the process? Do they disrupt normal colony behavior to the point of collapse?

    I'm sure it has been discussed, but I've read many post discussing mites and seen very litte/nothing regarding how, specifically, they cause colony death.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada


    Not an expert but i think they weaken the bees by being parasitic in nature as well, when they incubate in a cell, they weaken the brood by feeding off the larva.
    When the hive is weakened, the bees become suseptable to the diseases that are already in the hive. The bees can keep the diseases undercontrol when they are strong, but in a weakened state, they can not keep up their housekeeping duteis, and the diseases starts to multiple and infect the bees.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Lyons, CO


    Yes to all your questions. They parasitize brood, weakening them and causing loss of vigor. They also vector viruses, including Deformed Wing Virus (shriveled wings) which is a late sign of impending disaster. I don't think any one mechanism is the big bad wolf, but rather the sum of the stresses that a large infestation inflicts on a colony. Which can cause mortality outright, but is more commonly (I suspect) a contributor to a colony being vulnerable to other diseases, robbing, overwintering poorly, etc.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK


    I suspect colony genetics has something to do with it. Recently, I was finding the odd bee with shrivelled wings in one of my colonies. I was puzzled at first, as it had been treated with oxalic acid with my other colonies, and none of them was showing any sign of virus. A treatment with apiguard eventually confirmed that the number of mites was as low as that in any other colony.

    It's a hybrid colony, with about hald the bees having a yellow stripe. Eventually I realised that the affected bees were all black. I can only presume that there's one patriline in the hive which is particularly susceptible to the virus.
    Birmingham UK


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