Explainer: Varroa mite, the tiny killer threatening Australia’s bees

May 20, 2014

From: The Conversation

A tiny mite has been killing honey bees all around the world, and will inevitably reach Australian shores. So what is this destructive mite, and what we can do to protect Australian honey bees?

The Varroa mite, also known as Varroa destructor, is only the size of a pin head but it is the most serious threat to the viability of the Australian honey bee industry.

The mite is parasitic and feeds on the blood of adult and larval honey bees. It also transmits viral and other pathogens, which kill entire bee colonies. Varroa mite is part of the syndrome leading to honey bee declines in many places around the world.

The global invasion heading our way

Varroa mite has been highly invasive. It originated in north Asia in the 1950s and spread to Europe in the 1970s. It then spread to the USA, southeast Asia, South America and Africa. In 2000 it turned up in New Zealand.

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