Behaviour of the Varroa destructor mite in worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera)


  • Rafael A. Calderón Universidad Nacional Centro de Investigaciones Apícolas Tropicales, Programa Integrado de Patología Apícola, Costa Rica
  • Natalia Fallas Universidad Nacional Centro de Investigaciones Apícolas Tropicales, Programa Integrado de Patología Apícola, Costa Rica
  • Marianyela Ramírez Universidad Nacional Centro de Investigaciones Apícolas Tropicales, Programa Integrado de Patología Apícola, Costa Rica



Varroa destructor, behavior, feeding, defecation, reproduction


The behaviour of the Varroa destructor mite was studied in worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees. Four colonies located in Barreal de Heredia were used.  Two of the colonies were selected to allow the queen to lay eggs in the artificial cells, while the other two were used to collect adult mites. Once the cell is sealed, it is artificially infested with a mite and placed in an incubator with controled temperature and humidity. The larva as well as the mite’s  activities within the cell are observed and recorded using a micro-camera, which sends the signal to long-duration recording equipment.  Parameters evaluated for each mite include feeding and defecation behavior, periods of inactivity, and reproductive analysis.  The feeding behavior of the V. destructor mite varied between the larval and pupal stages.  The varroa mite fed 6.5 times per day during the larval stage and showed no preference for a feeding site, while it fed 3.4 times per day during the pupal stage and used a particular feeding site. It is determined that the varroa mite shows a preference for defecation during the first days of observation. Most of the infested cells have one fecal accumulation site of 0.3 mm diameter in the posterior part of the cell and it was the favorite resting site for the mite, where it spent 67.1 min per day (n = 20). Longitudinal displacements were observed in 25.0% (n = 28) of the analyzed bee larva. Turning movements around the cell, from the bottom to the top, were carried out by these larva, with a total time of 874.9 ± 262.2 min per day (n = 7). Most of the mites analyzed did not reproduce (85.7%) and those that did produced mainly immature brood (10.7%).


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How to Cite

Behaviour of the Varroa destructor mite in worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera). (2017). Ciencias Veterinarias, 35(2), 113-129.

How to Cite

Behaviour of the Varroa destructor mite in worker brood cells of Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera). (2017). Ciencias Veterinarias, 35(2), 113-129.

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