Varroa destructor (Anderson and Truman) previously described as Varroa jacobsoni (Oud) is a parasitic mite of adult bees and brood. In the past hundred years or so it has become the most serious pest of Western honeybees across the globe, particularly for the European honey bee Apis mellifera which lacks natural defences to be able to deal with the mite by themselves. When populations overwhelm a colony, it leads to a disease called Varroosis and if left untreated an infested colony will usually die within 2-3 years.
Symptoms of Varroosis
Depending on climatic conditions, visual symptoms caused by V. destructor are observed from autumn when the amount of brood being reared is reduced and mite numbers are at their highest through to early spring during the overwintering phase. Severe infestations of Varroa may lead to:
Deformed wings which are shrivelled and adopt a ‘spaghetti’ like appearance;
general weakening of the colony;
Patchy/ pepper pot brood patterns;
High level infestations can be a direct cause of colony loss;
The mite is also a vector of a number of viruses. Although bee viruses usually persist as unapparent infections and cause no overt signs of disease, they can dramatically affect honey bee health and shorten the lives of infected bees under certain conditions.
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