Honey bee (Apis mellifera) nurse bee visitation of worker and drone larvae increases Varroa destructor mite cell invasion. Academic Article uri icon


  • The life cycle of Varroa destructor, the ectoparasitic mite of honey bees (Apis mellifera), includes a dispersal phase, in which mites attach to adult bees for transport and feeding, and a reproductive phase, in which mites invade worker and drone brood cells just prior to pupation to reproduce while their bee hosts complete development. In this study, we wanted to determine whether increased nurse bee visitations of adjacent drone and worker brood cells would increase the likelihood of Varroa mites invading those cells. We also explored whether temporarily restricting the nurses' access to sections of worker brood for 2 or 4h would subsequently cause higher nurse visitations, and thus, higher Varroa cell invasions. Temporarily precluding larvae from being fed by nurses subsequently led to higher Varroa infestation of those sections in some colonies, but this pattern was not consistent across colonies. Therefore, removing highly infested sections of capped worker brood could be further explored as a potential mechanical/cultural method for mite control. Our results provide more information on how nurse visitations affect the patterns of larval cell invasion by Varroa. Given that the mite's successful reproduction depends on the nurses' ability to visit and feed developing brood, more studies are needed to understand the patterns of Varroa mite invasion of drone and worker cells to better combat this pervasive honey bee parasite.

published proceedings

  • J Insect Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Reams, T., Rueppell, O., & Rangel, J.

complete list of authors

  • Reams, Taylor||Rueppell, Olav||Rangel, Juliana

editor list (cited editors)

  • Milbrath, M.

publication date

  • May 2024