Standard methods for varroa research

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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 52 (1)
January 2013
Article Title

Standard methods for varroa research


Vincent Dietemann, Francesco Nazzi, Stephen J Martin, Denis L Anderson, Barbara Locke, Keith S Delaplane, Quentin Wauquiez, Cindy Tannahill, Eva Frey,  Bettina Ziegelmann, Peter Rosenkranz and James D Ellis


Very soon after Varroa destructor invaded apiaries of Apis mellifera, the devastating effect of this mite prompted an active research effort to understand and control this parasite. Over a few decades, varroa has spread to most countries exploiting A. mellifera.  As a consequence, a large number of teams have worked with this organism, developing a diversity of research methods. Often different approaches have been followed to achieve the same goal. The diversity of methods made the results difficult to compare, thus hindering our understanding of this parasite. In this paper, we provide easy to use protocols for the collection, identification, diagnosis, rearing, breeding, marking and measurement of infestation rates and fertility of V. destructor. We also describe experimental protocols to study orientation and feeding of the mite, to infest colonies or cells and measure the mite’s susceptibility to acaricides. Where relevant, we describe which mite should be used for bioassays since their behaviour is influenced by their physiological state. We also give a method to determine the damage threshold above which varroa damages colonies. This tool is fundamental to be able to implement integrated control concepts. We have described pros and cons for all methods for the user to know which method to use under which circumstances. These methods could be embraced as standards by the community when designing and performing research on V. destructor.


Varroa destructor, Apis mellifera, research method, protocol, orientation, feeding, marking, taxonomy, bioassay, damage threshold, acaricide, artificial infestation, breeding, COLOSS, BEEBOOK


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