In news-Recently, Australian authorities have exterminated millions of honeybees in a bid to prevent a potentially devastating parasitic plague(varroa mite) affecting the southeast region of the country.
What is Vorroa mite?
- Varroa destructor (Varroa mite) is a sesame seed-sized external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera.
- The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis. The Varroa mite can reproduce only in a honey bee colony and can also transmit honey bee viruses.
- Reddish-brown in colour, the tiny pests are known to kill entire colonies of honeybees.
- They often travel from bee to bee and also via beekeeping equipment, such as combs that have been extracted.
- It attaches to the body of the bee and weakens the bee by sucking fat bodies.The species is a vector for at least five debilitating bee viruses, including RNA viruses such as the deformed wing virus (DWV).
- The spread of the mite is largely blamed for a sharp decline in the number of honey bee colonies worldwide.
- Although Varroa mites can feed and live on adult honey bees, they mainly feed and reproduce on larvae and pupae in the developing brood, causing malformation and weakening of honey bees as well as transmitting numerous viruses.
- Over time, as the mite population increases in bee colonies, the symptoms grow more severe.
- Generally, heavy infestations lead to crippled bees, impaired flight performance, lower rate of return to the colony after foraging and reduced lifespan.