Varroa mite

One of the biggest problems for honey bee colonies is the varroa mite (Varroa destructor). The small mite will attach to a foraging worker bee and catch a ride into the hive. Once there, it will burrow into a cell containing a larva and lay its eggs on it. When the larva pupates the eggs will hatch and the bee will leave the cell, taking the parasites with it. The mites feed on the bee's fat bodies, weakening its immune system and transmitting diseases such as Deformed Wing Virus which leaves the bee with short and useless wings. The bees bitten by varroa mites are often weak and don't usually live for more than a couple of days.

Varroa mites have spread to most of the world, and only Australia and areas near it seem to be free of them. Australia has even sent some of its healthy bees over to the USA by plane to try and boost its honeybee population. Once a varroa mite enters a hive the whole colony can be destroyed in 2 to 4 years, and most wild bee colonies have died out because of them.

A photograph of a varroa mite (_Varroa jacobsoni_)

A photograph of a varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni)
Photograph by Scott Bauer, USDA.

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