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The Influence of Cell Size on Infestation Rates by the Mite Varroa Jacobsoni

XXX International Apicultural Congress, Apimondia, Nagoya, Japan, Oct. 10-16, 1985

41. DE JONG, D.; MESSAGE, D.; ISSA, M. (Brasil)

An important phase in the life cycle of the honeybee parasite, Varroa jacobsoni, is the choosing of a bee brood cell for reproduction. That the mites prefer drone brood over that of workers is well established. Recent work by our group has demonstrated that the presence of the male bee larva is not the only important factor. This makes sense biologically since the longer development period of the drones allows for a greater reproduction by the mites. However the cues that the mites use to make their choice are unknown.

Worker brood cells which protrude from the comb surface due to irregularities in the comb midrib are preferred (De Jong and Morse 1984). When a piece of European bee comb is implanted within an Africanized bee comb, the larger diameter cells of the European comb attract more mites even though the larvae in the two cell types come from the same queen (Message and Goncalves 1984). Drone larvae transplanted into drone sized cells had more mites than those transplanted into worker sized cells, which demonstrates that cell size also mediates the attractiveness of drone larvae (Issa, De Jong, and Goncalves 1984).

Further studies are planned to elucidate the cues which Varroa uses for cell choice.