Free Access
Volume 33, Number 1, January-February 2002
Page(s) 51 - 61

Apidologie 33 (2002) 51-61
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2001007

Reproduction of Varroa destructor in South African honey bees: does cell space influence Varroa male survivorship?

Stephen J. Martina and Per Krygerb

a  Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
b  Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa

(Received 18 May 2001; accepted 27 October 2001)

The ability of Varroa destructor to reproduce in the African honey bee Apis mellifera scutellata was studied. In addition, the effects of space within the brood cell and short brood developmental time on mite reproduction, was investigated using A. m. scutellata cells parasitised by a A. m. capensis worker pseudo-clone. In A. m. scutellata worker cells Varroa produced 0.9 fertilised females per mother mite which is the same as found in susceptible European honey bees, but greater than the 0.4 produced in cells containing the pseudo-clone. Low mite reproductive success in cells containing pseudo-clone was mainly as a result of increased mite mortality. This was caused by male protonymphs and some mothers becoming trapped in the upper part of the cell due to the pseudo-clone being 8% larger than their host and not due to their short developmental time. Therefore, mite populations in South African A. m. scutellata and A. m. capensis honey bees are expected to increase to levels observed in Europe and USA.

Key words: Varroa destructor / reproduction / cell size / mite mortality / Apis mellifera scutellata

Correspondence and reprints: Stephen J. Martin

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002