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  1. #1
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    Apr 2012
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    Default Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    Most diseases have a "reservoir" in nature, usually a species that is not effected or at least not strongly effected by the disease. Its these reservoirs that make it impossible to eradicate the disease species because they provide a continual source that re-infects the host species even if all of hosts are cured.

    The only reason small pox could be eradicated was because it had no natural vector, it was only spread from humans to other humans.

    Is varroa only spread from bees to bees? or does it survive on other insects in the wild?

  2. #2
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    It only breeds in bees. Although it has been found on bumblebees, and carpet beetles, both of which visit flowers. But it cannot breed on either of those.

    One potential reservoir is it's natural host, apis cerana. If apis cerana was introduced to the US, it would become a natural reservoir.

    When you used the words "in nature", remember that varroa is not a natural pest of apis melifera, our honeybee. It was introduced to our honeybees, by human meddling. That is why varroa has been so devastating, there is no natural balance as yet.

    In the wild, when events like this happen, the result can be the host and prey adapting, or extinction of one or both. When North and South America were separated from each other, there were some amazing animal species, both prey and predator, such as bear dogs, sabre tooth tigers, etc. Then the two continents linked and there was a migration of predators who found new prey that was totally defenceless against them, as they had not developed in tandem. The result was mass extinctions, not only of some prey species but also some predator species.

    It is taken by many as a foregone conclusion, that if we just left bees alone, they would develop full resistance to mites. But this is not a foregone conclusion, if we base our views on past natural history of similar new predator meets new prey situations.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    DWV, and IAPV can replicate in mites, Honeybees, AND Bumble Bees. So, some pathogens have spilled over.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2012
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    Springfield, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    The answer to your question is somewhere in Southeast Asia. I'm not trying to be clever by saying that, but if the mite originated there then the possibility of identifying a natural reservoir other than honeybees would be greatest in that region.
    Last edited by Chemguy; 05-20-2013 at 07:23 AM.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    Varroa have been spotted on adult bumble bees, but as far as I have been able to find out, they are not successful at reproducing in bumble bee nests. Varroa are an obligate parasite of honey bees...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    Apr 2012
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    Interesting. Now I know this is probably impossible but theoretically I wonder what would happen if every bee keeper in the country preformed a simultaneous break in their brood cycle? Obviously it wouldn't do anything about feral colonies but in some places feral colonies are extremely rare. It seems like if such a thing could be done you could eliminate Varroa from whole areas of the country, at least for a while as well as narrowing their gene pool.


    But on a more practical level it seems like this means that Varroa will eventually be self limiting since at a certain point bees will either develop an immunity or so many of them will die that there will no longer be a high enough density of hosts to support a varroa population and it will essentially burn itself out.

    Either way it seems there is a limit to how bad it can get since without a reservoir Varroa's fate is linked to that of bees.

  7. #7
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    Large areas of hives get a simultaneous brood break every winter.

    It is thought that a female mite reproduces 3 to 5 times, then dies. But a non reproducing mite can live around a year.

    I've experimented with brood breaks, never done anything for me.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,544

    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    As rightly pointed out above, varroa have no "natural" reservoir in Americas because it is invasive specie as well as EHB. Wide spread of varroa is supported by unwise beekeeping practices - our own hives sometime are artificial reservoirs of varroa. Unhealthy bees "lifestyle" (stress, pollination, chemicals etc) promotes varroa spread between affected colonies. Nevertheless, as it was shown in "Australian" thread by Mr. Parker, Oldtimer and others - even within varroa-infested areas the bees-loss may be kept at 10% and lower with "best beekeeping practice" (do not mix with "treatment-free"). Unwise use of chemicals creates chemical-resistant strains of varroa, which keeps varroa going and provides additional income to chemical companies and bees-packagers...

    My personal believe is that normal, healthy unstressed EHBs could mitigate varroa in many situations. The problem is that most our bees are kept in unhealthy environment and stressed by many factors; their diet is unhealthy also (syrup). Unhealthy bees have compromised immune system, which could not protect them from pathogenes anymore. Packaging business potentially could spread diseases by sending bees everywhere and not having established epidemiological precautions.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  9. #9
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    > Now I know this is probably impossible but theoretically I wonder what would happen if every bee keeper in the country preformed a simultaneous break in their brood cycle?

    We do. It's called winter. And the bumble bees are gone too...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Arlee MT USA
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    We do. It's called winter. And the bumble bees are gone too...
    So how are all the bees getting reinfected every spring? Is it from migratory bee keepers that over winter in places that don't really have one?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Does Varroa have a natural reservoir?

    Varroa do not die out over winter. They are still there in the spring. They just didn't get to reproduce until brood rearing starts again.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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