Continuing from last week, we are taking a look at Varroa Mites and Deformed Wing Virus, or DWF. Both of these diseases are very common in beehives across the globe with Varroa mites carrying DWF and infecting weakened bees with the virus. It is similar to how ticks carry Lyme Disease or Babesiosis. Unlike the Foulbrood Diseases covered last week, these diseases mainly affect adult bees, usually those that forage for nectar.
Varroasis, or an infestation of Varroa Mites, can affect any bee species at any time of the year. Varroa mites are very large mites, reddish in color, that can be seen with the naked eye. They often latch onto foraging bees when they enter flowers looking for nectar and are carried back to the hive, where they multiply. A Varroa mite that is attached to an adult bee feeds off of either the nectar stored in the bee’s body, or its fatty tissues, causing a reduced lifespan. They can also detach from the bee and enter the brood cells, attaching themselves to the larva, which then hatches with DWF as a result. If left untreated, the colony will collapse within a few years, and honey production and pollination will fall rapidly.
Moving onto Deformed Wing Virus, the larva that has been affected by Varroa Mites will show up with this virus. They have shortened deformed wings, and are unable to fly or forage. This can show up even after the mites have been exterminated as well. As a result, beekeepers have to keep a close watch on their bees for any signs of Varroa Mites or DWF, as this is a disease that can quickly spread from hive to hive.
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