Varroa Biology and Control: a Worldwide Perspective
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide critical pollination services valued at over $200 billion worldwide and $17 billion in the US. Despite increased attention, colony losses have remained elevated since 2006, with beekeepers losing 40-50% of their colonies annually. These elevated losses are due in large part to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor.
Beekeepers in the United States struggle greatly to keep Varroa populations under control. Our recent APHIS National Honey Bee Disease Survey indicates that managed colonies exceed the treatment threshold of three mites per 100 bees from July through November. This peak in Varroa during the late summer and early fall occurs at a critical time of year, when colonies start rearing long-lived winter bees and commercial beekeepers are preparing their colonies for almond pollination. Varroa feed on developing brood, shortening the life span of the adult bees, thus reducing colony size and increasing colony mortality.
Many research advances in understanding Varroa biology and methods of control have been made in the last decade, but often the results appear in diverse scientific journals and the details are not collated into text that is easily accessible to beekeepers. While a few Varroa management guides are available, they often are prescriptive treatment lists without an explanation of Varroa biology.
My goal at the Wissenschaftskolleg is to produce an in-depth, yet accessible book "Varroa Biology and Control: A Worldwide Perspective" that synthesizes what we have learned in the last decade of scientific research. The first half of the book will detail Varroa biology, as recent discoveries have revolutionized our insight into its feeding habits, its reproductive biology, how the viruses it vectors have increased in virulence, and how this parasite evolves resistance. The second half will detail practical control methods, which often vary regionally due to temperature and humidity considerations.
Traynor, Kirsten S., et al. (2016). "Multiyear survey targeting disease incidence in US honey bees." Apidologie 47, 3: 325-347.
Traynor, Kirsten S., et al. (2016). "In-hive Pesticide Exposome: assessing risks to migratory honey bees from in-hive pesticide contamination in the Eastern United States." Scientific Reports 6: 33207.
Traynor, Kirsten S., Yves Le Conte, and Robert E. Page Jr. (2015). "Age matters: pheromone profiles of larvae differentially influence foraging behaviour in the honeybee, Apis mellifera." Animal Behaviour 99: 1-8.