The parasitic mite Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman (Acari: Varroidae) has plagued European honey bees, Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), in the Americas since its introduction in the 1980s. For many years, these mites were sufficiently controlled using synthetic acaricides. Recently, however, beekeepers have experienced increased resistance by mites to chemical pesticides, which are also known to leave residues in hive products such as wax and honey. Thus there has been increased emphasis on nonchemical integrated pest management control tactics for Varroa. Because mites preferentially reproduce in drone brood (pupal males), we developed a treatment strategy focusing on salvaging parasitized drones while removing mites from them. We removed drone brood from colonies in which there was no acaricidal application and banked them in separate “drone-brood receiving” colonies treated with pesticides to kill mites emerging with drones. We tested 20 colonies divided into three groups: 1) negative control (no mite treatment), 2) positive control (treatment with acaricides), and 3) drone-brood removal and placement into drone-brood receiving colonies. We found that drone-brood trapping significantly lowered mite numbers during the early months of the season, eliminating the need for additional control measures in the spring. However, mite levels in the drone-brood removal group increased later in the summer, suggesting that this benefit does not persist throughout the entire season. Our results suggest that this method of drone-brood trapping can be used as an element of an integrated control strategy to control varroa mites, eliminating a large portion of the Varroa population with limited chemical treatments while retaining the benefits of maintaining adult drones in the population.
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Vol. 102 • No. 6