Effective Biotechnical control of varroa: applying knowledge on brood cell invasion to trap honey bee parasites in drone brood
J N M Calis; W J Boot; J Beetsma; J H P M Van Den Eijnde; A De Ruijter; J J M Van Der Steen
Biotechnical methods of varroa (Varroa jacobsoni) control are based on the idea that mites inside brood cells are trapped and can then easily be removed from a honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony. Trapping is most efficient using drone brood in otherwise broodless colonies. In theory, one trap-comb with drone brood is enough to achieve control. We designed and tested two methods using trap-combs with drone brood. In the first experiment, effectiveness of the control method varied considerably, from 67% to 96%. However, the observed effectiveness in each separate colony was similar to the prediction based on knowledge of behaviour of mites invading brood cells. Effectiveness depended on the number of drone cells that had been available for mite trapping. In the second experiment, we adjusted the method to improve production of trap-combs with drone brood, since this appeared to be crucial for trapping efficiency. The observed effectiveness of 93.4% demonstrates that trap-combs with drone brood can effectively trap mites, thereby offering a non-chemical method of varroa control. The use of knowledge on invasion behaviour of mites for evaluating trap-comb methods and modelling varroa population dynamics is discussed.
honey bees, Apis mellifera, Varroa jacobsoni, trapping combs, drone brood, brood cell invasion, capped brood cells, control methods, population model