Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Varroa (destructor) mite (327)

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  • Worldwide distribution. On European and Asian honeybees. Important.
  • Infestations cause: (i) empty brood cells - infested larvae removed by workers; (ii) weak bees that spread the mite as they rob food from nearby hives; (iii) spread of virus and bacterial diseases; (iv) crippled bees, prone to infections; v) death of colony in 1-3 years.
  • Adult females, reddish-brown (males white), flat, oval, up to 1.8 mm long, 2 mm wide, on the thorax or in abdominal folds. Mites enter brood cells, lay eggs, nymphs feed on bee larvae and pupae, mate, males die, and females attach and feed on bees. See full fact sheets for monitoring.
  • Spread: (i) within hive - they are mobile; (ii) infested bees enter nearby hives to rob nectar, or by mistake; (iii) swarming; (iv) infested combs put in healthy hives.
  • Cultural control: use open-screen floor hives; avoid using combs from brood area in honey area; hygiene: (i) queen bees and equipment from trusted sources; (ii) clean and sterilise borrowed, second-hand equipment, tools, gloves, pallets, boxes; (iii) inspect brood combs regularly; (iv) replace brood combs every 3 years.
  • Chemical control: see full fact sheet for details of treating hives, equipment, and mite infestations on bees.
Common Name

Varroa mite

Scientific Name

Varroa destructor; previously the mite was known as Varroa jacobsoni, but in 2000 molecular analysis discovered that there were two species (see Fact Sheet no. 326). The effect of the mite on the European honeybee is referred to as 'varroosis of honey bees'.

AUTHOR Grahame Jackson 
Information from CABI (2015) Varroosis of honey bees. Invasive Species Compendium (; and BeeAware. Plant Health Australia. (; and Biosecurity manual for beekeepers. (; and Varroa mite (2020) Varroa mite detection in Townsville. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Queensland Government. (; and from Varroa mite. Entomology & Nematology. UF/IFAS, University of Florida. ( Photos 2-4 Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Photo 1 Florida Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Photo 5 Stephen Ausmus, USDA Agricultural Research Service, 

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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