No, the female mites can live in the hive (on the bees) for several month. As soon as the colony starts breeding, the mites starts breeding too.Will female mites die if they cannot lay eggs when you have a break in brood raising? Don't they start laying again as soon as the queen resumes egg laying?
This line just answered a question I had. How was it possible for bees from one colony to infect another with Varroa because when ever I observed workers foraging they rarely make contact with other bees. In the 2 packages we installed in April, on our first inspection I found no drones and no drone cells. True I may have missed a few that came with the packages, but there were not too many bees and I believe there were none. During our 2nd inspection I found Drones in both hives. Baffled by this I asked a senior beekeeper where these Drones could have come from and if it was possible for Drones to enter strange hives. He said that "Drones go where they want." This could be the reason that Varroa prefer Drone brood, not because of cell size but because by infecting Drones it increases their odds of reproducing by being introduced to healthy hives previously uninfected with Varroa.Drones travel up to 40 km from one hive to another and the mites travel with them. There is always a high re infection during summer.