Varroa destructor and varroa jacobsoni are parasitic mites that feed off the bodily fluids (hemolymph) of adult, pupal and larval bees. Eight-legged varroa mites can be seen with the naked eye (measuring 1–1.8 mm long and 1.5–2 mm wide) as a small red or brown spot on the bee's thorax.
How does it accomplish this?
The entire life cycle of the varroa mite is spent with their honey bee hosts. Female mites feed on the bee larvae and lay eggs of both sexes in the brood cells. Developing mites feed on immature bees. After the mites mature, male and female mites mate inside of the capped brood cell. The male dies after copulation and females emerge from the brood cell along with their bee host and seek another host to repeat the life cycle.
|Varroa mites on pupa|
What happens if they go untreated?
The feeding of varroa mites can result in a decline in host vigor, immunity, weight, shorter bee life span, and the eventual destruction of the colony. Varroa are carriers for a virus that is particularly damaging to the bees. Bees that are infected with this virus during their development will often have visibly deformed wings. Varroa have led to the virtual elimination of feral bee colonies in many areas and is a major problem for kept bees in apiaries.