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News From the Hive: What are Varroa Mites?

Varroa mites are external, parasites of worker (female) and drone (male)honey bees. Varroa mites are visible to the naked eye and look somewhat like a tick. They feed on the blood of adult bees and the developing brood (baby bees). The reproduction cycle of the mite takes place inside the cells. Female mites enter the brood cells of last larvae stage just prior to the cells being capped. There she will deposit five to six eggs over a period of time while feeding on the brood.The eggs hatch and the young mites begin to feed on the developing pupa. Symptoms of Varroa mite damage can be evident on newly-emerged bees which is due to the mite feeding on the immatures within the cell. The newly-emerged bees may be smaller than normal, have crumpled or disjointed wings, and shortened abdomens. The lifespan of the newly emerged bee is also reduced. Severe infestations of Varroa mites within the cell can cause death to the pupa. The end result of unchecked mite populations is an eroding adult bee population and eventual colony death. Our next discussion will be mite control/prevention.

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