A comparison of the reproductive ability of Varroa destructor (Mesostigmata:Varroidae) in worker and drone brood of Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera)

  • Rafael A. Calderón
  • Luis G. Zamora
  • Johan W. Van Veen
  • Mariela V. Quesada


Colony infestation by the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor is one of the most serious problems for beekeeping worldwide. In order to reproduce varroa females, enter worker or drone brood shortly before the cell is sealed. To test the hypothesis that, due to the preference of mites to invade drone brood to reproduce, a high proportion of the mite reproduction should occur in drone cells, a comparative study of mite reproductive rate in worker and drone brood of Africanized honey bees (AHB) was done for 370 mites. After determining the number, developmental stage and sex of the offspring in worker cells, the foundress female mite was immediately transferred into an uninfested drone cell. Mite fertility in single infested worker and drone brood cells was 76.5 and 79.3%, respectively. There was no difference between the groups (X 2 = 0.78, P = 0.37). However, one of the most significant differences in mite reproduction was the higher percentage of mites producing viable offspring (cells that contain one live adult male and at least one adult female mite) in drone cells (38.1%) compared to worker cells (13.8%) (X = 55.4, P < 0.01). Furthermore, a high level of immature offspring occurred in worker cells and not in drone cells (X = 69, P < 0.01). Although no differences were found in the percentage of non-reproducing mites, more than 74% (n = 85) of the mites that did not reproduce in worker brood, produced offspring when they were transferred to drone brood.


Varroa destructor Reproductive ability Comparison Africanized honey bees Worker brood Drone brood 



We would like to thank Yohana Alfaro for the assistance with the fieldwork. This research was supported in part by the Utrecht Scholarship Programme (USP), Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael A. Calderón
    • 1
  • Luis G. Zamora
    • 1
  • Johan W. Van Veen
    • 1
  • Mariela V. Quesada
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones Apícolas TropicalesUniversidad NacionalHerediaCosta Rica

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