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Effects of Comb Cell Diameter on Parasitic Mite Infestations in Honey Bee Colonies

Author(s):

ERICKSON JR ERIC H
RICHARDSON GARY V
KEHL KEVIN L
ARP DENNIS L
CAMERON BRETT E

Interpretive Summary:

The varroa mite is an economically important external parasite of honey bees. These mites reproduce in brood cells where they feed on hemolymph of developing bee pupae. Bee longevity is reduced and eventually entire colonies die. Thousands of domestic honey bee colonies are being lost annually to varroa. This study was undertaken to determine the effect of brood comb cell diameter on the population dynamics of varroa, and the validity of using varroa fecal accumulations (FA) as a field diagnostic for varroa. Thirty-six full-strength colonies, each with one of four types of brood comb, were monitored quarterly over a two-year period from initial infestation with varroa to colony decline/death. There were four surviving colonies at the end of the study period, all in the small cell treatment group. There were no significant differences between treatments in the incidence of varroa, varroa FA, colony survival or honey production due to the absence of significant differences between treatments due in large part to wide variability between colonies within treatments. However, trends for the incidence of varroa, and varroa FA, as well as for colony survival and honey production suggest that reduced cell diameter may have a limited impact on varroa and HBTM population dynamics, and on colony performance. The results suggest that cell diameter could be a useful varroa management tool when used as part of an integrated pest management system. These studies further demonstrated that FA can be used to diagnose varroa infestations.

Contact:

USDA, ARS, HONEY BEE RESE
2000 EAST ALLEN ROAD
TUCSON
AZ 85719
FAX: (520)670-6493
Email: medley@tucson.ars.ag.gov

Approved Date: 1999-07-19


TEKTRAN
United States Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service

Updated: 1999-08-13