An Australian nature short dealing with one of the greatest threats (if not the greatest worldwide threat) to the European Honey Bee, and pollination industry.
There is literally thousands of articles on the varroa mite on the internet; and it’s life cycle is fairly well understood – but beekeepers, honey bees, and mites have been locked in an arms race since they were first found in the North America in the late eighties. Apiculture (specifically the pollination industry), and the use (and possibly overuse) of aggressive mite treatments have been building stronger mites that are resistant to our best interventions, which makes us (as a new beekeepers) a little nervous about every trivial thing we see going on at the front of the hive.
The good news is, we haven’t seen a mite in our hive – yet. But as everyone says, just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Mites are vectors for bee viruses, and one of the signs of mite infestation is Deformed Wing Virus; a virus that causes… Well… Deformed wings on new born bees.
In the next few days there should be brand new adult bees chewing their way out of wax cappings and into the role of nurse bees. At our next hive inspection, we probably won’t see mites yet, but we may see some bees with fishy looking wings (and if we see those we’ll try to get pictures). From what I’ve read, a beekeeper usually doesn’t see mites on bees until their numbers are at a level high enough to be a serious threat to the hive making it through the winter. So let’s hope that doesn’t happen! If we keep an eye out, and follow good IPM (integrated pest management) procedures; we stand a good chance of overwintering our bees.