Free Access
Volume 35, Number 4, July-August 2004
Page(s) 419 - 430
Apidologie 35 (2004) 419-430
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004032

The energy and nutritional demand of the parasitic life of the mite Varroa destructor

Assegid Garedewa, Erik Schmolza and Ingolf Lamprechtb

a  Free University of Berlin, Institute of Zoology, Königin-Luise-Strasse 1-3, 14195 Berlin, Germany
b  Free University of Berlin, Institute of Animal Physiology, Ehrenbergstrasse 26-28, 14195 Berlin, Germany

(Received 7 July 2002; revised 24 November 2003; accepted 8 December 2003)

Abstract - The energy metabolism and nutritional demand of the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor Anderson and Trueman was investigated by calorimetry, respirometry and resource utilization rate. Mites from different sexes and developmental stages of the western honeybee Apis mellifera were monitored in the absence of the host. Energy metabolism of the mites, calculated from the rate of heat production, was an insignificant factor in the cause of honeybee colony death. The metabolic rates of mites ranged from 1.1% to 2.4% of that of the bee pupa depending on the infestation level. But the nutritional demand of the mites was very high, owing to their inefficient metabolic machinery, utilizing up to 25% of the nutritional reserves of the pupae accumulated in tissue during the larval stage. The feeding of the mites contributes to the malformation and weakening of the bees and eventually of the colony.

Key words: Varroa destructor / calorimetry / respirometry / heat production rate / host-parasite relationships / Apis mellifera

Corresponding author: Erik Schmolz

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2004