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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    New Cumberland, PA
    Posts
    1,380

    Default Overwintering of Varroa Mites within Bee Cluster?

    Hi, I got to thinking about my surviving untreated hives and the impact of the varroa mites on the overwintering longer lifespan honeybee and it led me to the following questions and any answers/comments will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1) Do Varroa mites survive winters within the Bee cluster?

    2) If so, do they have longer life spans than their summer counterparts that correspond to the longer lifespans of the overwintering honeybee?

    3) Assuming that the queen is doing minimal laying within the cluster, would we be correct in stating that the breeding cycle of the mites has been interrupted as well and the mite population should fall within the winter.

    4) If the mite is killing the honeybee, while attached to it, what happens to the mite when the honeybee dies during the winter? Does it eventually die with the bee?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
    Posts
    483

    Default Re: Overwintering of Varroa Mites within Bee Cluster?

    From what I have picked up from various sources:


    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPAguy View Post

    1) Do Varroa mites survive winters within the Bee cluster?
    Yes. Phoretic mites only when there is no brood.


    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPAguy View Post

    2) If so, do they have longer life spans than their summer counterparts that correspond to the longer lifespans of the overwintering honeybee?
    It is apparently the number of breeding cycles that limites the lifespan of a Varroa mite. They can survive for months and months if not breeding and will live through 1-7 breeding cycles (average of about 1.5-2) when brood is present.


    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPAguy View Post

    3) Assuming that the queen is doing minimal laying within the cluster, would we be correct in stating that the breeding cycle of the mites has been interrupted as well and the mite population should fall within the winter.
    Yes to both questions, but the drop in mite population is smaller than might be hoped... Also, the broodless period is typically only about a month or so.


    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPAguy View Post

    4) If the mite is killing the honeybee, while attached to it, what happens to the mite when the honeybee dies during the winter? Does it eventually die with the bee?
    When the bee dies out of the hive, the mite dies with it. If the bees dies within the hive the mite will let go and find another live bee. In general, mites prefer nurse bees (this is how they find open brood cells about to be capped).


    Have you been monitoring your mite levels into winter and out of spring? I would be curious for your surviving untreated hives what level of mite infestation they have heading into the broodless period and what level they have entering spring...

    -fafrd

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,194

    Default Re: Overwintering of Varroa Mites within Bee Cluster?

    If you have some warm weather powdered sugar can do a lot of good before the brood rearing gets started.
    Dan

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