Open Access
Volume 37, Number 4, July-August 2006
Page(s) 452 - 461
Published online 10 March 2006
Apidologie 37 (2006) 452-461
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006010

A comparative evaluation of sampling methods for Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) population estimation

Manuela R. Branco, Neil A.C. Kidd and Robert S. Pickard

School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales, PO Box 915, Cardiff CF1 3TL, UK

(Received 17 December 1998 - revised 20 October 1999 - accepted 6 October 2005 - published online 10 March 2006)

Abstract - Obtaining a precise estimation of Varroa destructor population size in honeybee colonies is an important tool to implement integrated control practices. Therefore, it is necessary to know the adequacy and accuracy of the sampling methods used. We studied three sampling methods simultaneously to estimate the size of mite population: killing the mites with an acaricide, estimating the infestation level in adult bees and brood cells, and sampling the natural mortality of the mite. The three methods were compared pairwise by regression analysis. A good linear relationship was found between the three methods. Sampling the natural mortality was a reliable method for estimating absolute population size as long as some conditions are satisfied (colonies must be broodright and not collapsing). A mathematical equation is determined to translate the mite's natural death rate into absolute population numbers.

Key words: Varroa destructor / Apis mellifera / population size / sampling method / natural mortality

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2006