Biology

Varroa mites against bees. Is there a treatment?

Varroa mites, are parasites to bees and can cause bee weakening as well as spread viruses among a bee population. In this article we review some of the most current methods for treating infected colonies.

Varroa symptoms may only become observable at a late stage. The result can be crippled bees, with impaired flight performance and reduced life span. The mites usually hide between the segments of bees, especially in the abdomen section. They tend to prefer larvae instead of adult bees although that doesn’t really stop the mites from affecting both if circumstances allow it.

Adult male mites only feed on the larvae of bees, while females are very mobile and can move from one site to another. The rate of infection depends on the initial infection, meaning the number of mites first introduced to the colony.

Countries like Australia have no cases of Varroa mites and therefore do not need to use any chemicals to protect bees for such parasites.

Components like lithium chloride, as well as other lithium compounds have shown to help bees. When feeding bees with small concentrations of lithium compounds a significant decrease of Varroa mites was observed in a study.

Another treatment strategy independent of conventional drugs used to treat such parasites is with oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is toxic to the Varroa mites and when mixed with Glycerol or even sucrose, can enhance oxalic acids toxicity. Similar but not as potent effects were observed with citric acid. While older approached showed less promising results with the same chemicals, newer studies with better methods report that it works.

Such methods are great organic and natural alternatives to more aggressive synthesized chemicals that may harm the bees. Most European countries support such treatments to be acceptable for Varroa mites.

There are some great sources online to learn more about Varroa mites and how to treat them. There are links in the sources for you to read more. Leave a comment with your opinion under the article. For more science and tech news follow Qul Mind on Facebook and Twitter.

Sources: Oxalic acid: a prospective tool for reducing Varroa mite populations in package bees Activity of oxalic and citric acids on the mite Varroa destructor in laboratory assays A new formulation of oxalic acid for Varroa destructor control applied in Apis mellifera colonies in the presence of brood

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/iamtreesha/7894625598

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