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The Bee and Varroa mite lifecycle

August 24, 2014


LIFE CYCLE OF THE HONEY BEE.

The Honey bee exists as an egg for the first three days of its life. About the third day the egg hatches to form small larvae. The larvae will exist until the 7th to 8th day. The worker bees then start to feed the larvae and the larvae continues to eat getting larger every day. The larvae become large and robust and are pearly white colour, covering the bottom of the cell. The adult bees then begin to cap the cell. The VARROA MITE must enter the cell before the cell is capped. If a varroa mite has not entered the cell before it is capped it will look for another open cell.

Once the cell is capped the larvae will continue its development within the first 24hours from larvae to pre pupae. During this transformation the honey bee larvae spin a cocoon sheds its larvae skin and becomes a pre-pupa. Day 12, during the next 24 hours the pupae will enter the white eyed pupae stage, about day 13 the pupae enters the pink eyed stage and 14th day the purple eyed pupae stage. The pigmentation of the pupae cuticle then changes as it gradually tans around the mouth and antennae sockets.
Day 16 the pupae are of a tanned colour with movement beginning to happen in the legs.

Day 18 the pupae have turned to a black headed bee stage, and finally about 20 days the honey bee chews of the capping to vacate the cell.

It is at this stage if there is Varroa mite in the cell that they will also escape with and on the honey bee.

LIFE CYCLE OF THE VARROA MITE.

The varroa mite will enter the brood cell 15-20 hours before the cell is capped. The mite will crawl down between the larvae and the cell wall and embed itself in the brood food. The varroa mite will turn itself upside down and breathe through a tube while it is in the food. As soon as the larvae has eaten all of the brood food, it frees the mite allowing the varroa mite to take its first blood feed from the pre-pupae bee. Usually this takes place around the tenth day of the honey bees development and it is about this time that the varroa mite lays its first egg. The first egg laid by the varroa mite is male, and she continues to lay at 30 hour intervals the remaining eggs being female. Varroa mite defecates frequently in the cells the faeces having a whitish appearance.

The first male varroa egg will hatch about day 12. After 48 hours, these become eight-legged protonymphs which, after feeding on the bee larva, moult into a deutonymph. Three days later, the last moult to an adult occurs. Approximately twenty-four hours later the mites mate inside the capped honey bee brood cell. The males die after copulation in the brood cell and the female mites emerge to begin the cycle again. When the adult bee chews the cap off to emerge the adult mother mite and any of her mature daughters leave the cell. Fortunately, the survival rate of the progeny is just over one per cell, the rest dying within the cell.

As the female mite lays her eggs at 30 hour intervals it is thought that the mite prefers the longer developmental cycle of the drone of 24 days over the worker of 21 days.