, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 435-443

Factors influencing host choice of the honey bee parasite Varroa jacobsoni Oud

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Reproducing Varroa jacobsoni obtained from brood cells of Apis mellifera L. with 13–16 day old bees (pupae) and Varroa mites kept on adult bees for at least 8 days were simultaneously tested for their choice in three host types. Comparisons were made of attractiveness of Varroa jacobsoni to nurse bees, pollen foragers as to larvae from nearly capped brood cells. Host choices were observed in Petri dishes and in an Y-shaped olfactometer. Varroa jacobsoni obtained from capped brood cells showed a stronger preference for nurse bees in Petri dish simultaneous choice tests with pollen foragers or larvae than did mites which were previously kept on adult bees. In olfactometer simultaneous choice tests, the two mite test groups showed no clear difference in preferences for bees of different ages. The preference of Varroa jacobsoni for bees of different ages is therefore not only influenced by host factors but also by intrinsic factors in female mites that depend on the mite's reproductive stage.