Mite: Responsible for viruses and diseases
The varroa mite was first found in the UK in 1992 and has since become established throughout. The mite is responsible for the loss of countless colonies worldwide and is the single biggest threat to honeybee survival. The mite attaches itself to the body of a honeybee and feeds directly on the fat reserves in the bees body. Through this process, the mite passes on various viruses and the honeybee becomes infected.
The Asian strain of honeybees have learnt to groom the mites from their bodies but this trait has not yet been adopted by our European honeybees and so they have no natural defence against the mites.
It is well known that we cannot eradicate this mite. Beekeepers learn to manage the population of mites in a colony of honeybees by a methodology known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This involves the use of several different management techniques and each beekeeper will have their own IPM strategy for the management of the varroa mite.
Left untreated, this mite may eventually cause the total collapse of the colony.
Lifecycle of the Varroa mite
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Continued use of a single treatment against a virus or bacterium does eventually lead to some natural resistance to the treatment until eventually it is no longer effective. Whilst the treatment may kill the majority of the target species, some with a genetic difference will survive and pass their genes to the next generation. Eventually, the whole population is resistant through gentic difference.
The principle of IPM is to NOT use a single treatment but alternate using several different techniques, either mechanical (traps), biological (natural ememies) or chemical (pesticides).