Vampire mites are parasites that adhere to bees and cause many problems to the insect and its beekeepers. This tick-like mite, also known as varro mite or bee mite, lives on individual bees and spreads from one hive to another. They feed on bee fluid, transmit disease, and transmit bacteria through colonies. A group of vampire mites can destroy an entire beehive.
Vampire mites pose a great threat to the bee community. They were found in Southeast Asia in 1904 and in 1962-62 they were found in different species of bees in Hong Kong and the Philippines, after which they began to spread rapidly. With the infiltration of different types of host bees, the movement of queens from infected areas, and the movement of infested colonies, the problem of vampire mites came to the United States in 1979. After only one mite was found in Maryland, bee inspections were done. of Florida, where none were found in 1984. In 1987, however, it was found in Wisconsin and has since been known in the United States in small numbers.
Adult vampire mites are about the size of a small pinhead, are visible to the naked eye, and range in color from red to dark brown and black. They are crab-shaped and usually have a curved body that fits into the abdominal slits of the bee’s body. Vampire mites have eight legs and claws capable of piercing the skin of a bee for food.
The life of vampire mites begins with a 10-day birth cycle. A mother will lay eggs in a clutch of unborn bees and then expire soon. Mites are born when the bee is born and feed on this new host, developing along with the developing young bee. The parasite will usually die as the host dies, leaving the vampire mites alive while the bee is still alive in most cases. An infestation of vampire mites in this way can have different results, ranging from deformed bees at birth to the premature destruction of an entire colony of bees.
An infestation of this magnitude can ruin a hive, a beekeeper, or honey production in a small area. With a colony weakened, other colonies can leave, producing devastating effects on the beekeeper’s economic well-being. Control and detection methods are varied, although control should be done some time before or after a honey cycle, in order to preserve the natural integrity and safety of the honey.