Population growth of Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) in commercial honey bee colonies treated with beta plant acids

Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, Fabiana Ahumada, Robert Curry, Gene Probasco, Lloyd Schantz
Experimental & Applied Acarology 2014, 64 (2): 171-86
Varroa (Varroa destuctor Anderson and Trueman) populations in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies might be kept at low levels by well-timed miticide applications. HopGuard(®) (HG) that contains beta plant acids as the active ingredient was used to reduce mite populations. Schedules for applications of the miticide that could maintain low mite levels were tested in hives started from either package bees or splits of larger colonies. The schedules were developed based on defined parameters for efficacy of the miticide and predictions of varroa population growth generated from a mathematical model of honey bee colony-varroa population dynamics. Colonies started from package bees and treated with HG in the package only or with subsequent HG treatments in the summer had 1.2-2.1 mites per 100 bees in August. Untreated controls averaged significantly more mites than treated colonies (3.3 mites per 100 bees). By October, mite populations ranged from 6.3 to 15.0 mites per 100 bees with the lowest mite numbers in colonies treated with HG in August. HG applications in colonies started from splits in April reduced mite populations to 0.12 mites per 100 bees. In September, the treated colonies had significantly fewer mites than the untreated controls. Subsequent HG applications in September that lasted for 3 weeks reduced mite populations to levels in November that were significantly lower than in colonies that were untreated or had an HG treatment that lasted for 1 week. The model accurately predicted colony population growth and varroa levels until the fall when varroa populations measured in colonies established from package bees or splits were much greater than predicted. Possible explanations for the differences between actual and predicted mite populations are discussed.

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