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Access to Varroa mites for research


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Hi All,

 

I am starting a research project on Varroa mites and I need access to live Varroa mites around the Auckland region. One easy way to get live Varroa mites is to collect them from a board under a hive with a meshed bottom. The hive needs to have some level of Varroa infestation. Any ideas where I could find access to such a hive?

 

Regards,

Pablo

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I'm not in Auckland but curious about your method. I don't know the subject you're looking at but this method will not control the mites you get (they could be near death!) and isn't one of the standard COLOSS protocols. What are you investigating?

I can't imagine you'd have any difficulty, any hive in Auckland will fulfill your criteria depending on when you visit it!

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agree with Dave on that.

a mite that drops through the mesh is likely to be on it's last leg.

i'd try @Alastair. he uses no synthetic treatments and is generally very helpful, i think. (sorry @Alastair )

most beekeepers will have synthetic treatments in the hives by now and this can make it hard to find some useful samples.

the best way to get some is probably from drone brood or with sugar shakes.

 

will you tell us what you intend to do, @Pablo ?

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Thanks for the endorsement Tom but you esteem me too well!

 

2 weeks ago I put Apivar in all my hives, so I won't be much help to Pablo.

 

To Pablo, most beekeepers will have done their spring mite treatments now and not have many mites. Your best hope is a hobbyist somewhere who has not treated yet, if anyone who reads this has any hives not treated yet please post here or contact Pablo.

 

Very interested in your research Pablo, could you tell us a bit about it?

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Thanks All. Yes, I think I may have more luck at the end of spring. I'll also be starting my own hive but that will take me some time.

 

My research will look at a pheromone-type of approach. Something like a repellent/attractant or that disrupts the mite's lifecycle. There have been some studies published from overseas but nothing that can be applied in practice yet.

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Thanks for your interest Alastair. I'm sponsoring myself at the moment but hoping to confirm some investment soon. I just finished 3 years as a research manager at Comvita and before I did my Ph.D. at Plant & Food Research studying sense of smell in insects.

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It's all very interesting. Not all phoretic mites will initiate reproduction since they are of various ages, and I would be skeptical about the use of fallen mites. Also, randomly sampled mites might not enter cells and respond to the stimulus (because they're at a different point in their life cycle), so a petrie dish choice assay needs a lot of replication with lots of mites. In an ideal world we'd collect mites that have already reproduced once (from capped cells) if we're interested in cell entry. Studying the different stages in the mite's cycle require different ages of mite to suit; egg development, egg laying, orientation, cell invasion and so on. Collecting mites with sugar shakes or water washes gets lots but may affect the mite longevity so they are not always used for bioassays; mites are collected direct from the adult bee (if phorectic mites are the subject of study) which is very slow. The whole exercise is a series of, hopefully, calculated compromises.

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Thanks Dave. The first stage of the process involves dissecting the mites so I wouldn't mind much about their longevity. I've read a few articles where they use mites regularly collected from a tray under a meshed bottom board and I thought that should be the easiest way but I may have to try other ways if that one doesn't work.

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Not all phoretic mites will initiate reproduction since they are of various ages

 

In an ideal world we'd collect mites that have already reproduced once (from capped cells)

 

@Dave Black. how is the behavior different, how many breeding cycles can a mite do and can you tell the difference between a mite that has reproduced and those that haven't jet?

does the breeding cycle of the 'ripe' mites change much through the season (time interval in which they reenter cells?)

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how is the behavior different, how many breeding cycles can a mite do

Varroa fertility is actually quite poor, something like 20% may never produce off-spring. There is a range, a small number can have 4 cycles, others 3 or two or just one, so the rate is quoted as an average for a 'population' of females. The best estimate is between two and three (Martin and Kemp 1997) but 1.26 in worker brood is the rate I see quoted most often.

 

can you tell the difference between a mite that has reproduced and those that haven't jet?

I can't but I'm prepared to accept it's possible. Wendel and Rosenkranz used the colour of the dorsal shield to select 'nulliparous' females (never produced off-spring before).

 

does the breeding cycle of the 'ripe' mites change much through the season...

I don't think season has much of an effect (is there a season in a brood nest ? ;)); what affects cell invasion is simply the availability of larvae/cells at the right stage of development.

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not sure if i understand this right, @Dave Black

we are talking mites that have been successfully mated emerged alive but will never reproduce?

If you take out "successfully" then yes. Actually I don't think we understand the reasons they fail to reproduce but note that it is 'reasons' (plural). In almost 1/4 of occupied cells there is no male, so the females that emerge will be infertile. Longer phoretic periods also bump up the non-reproduction rate. If you were to look at phoretic mites (all female) you would find nearly all have full spermathecas, but still fail to produce off-spring.

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it's still good for an other round, does it strait look to go back into the brood for a second cycle or first an other feed on a bee?

Both, but the older more successful ones go straight back in. In a lab you can take the mother mite out, put her back in a new cell, and end up with viable off-spring.

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