Title: Varroa destructor mite decision-making process regarding honey bee worker cell invasion and size implications for developing bee brood
Parasitization of honey bees (Apis mellifera) by the mite Varroa destructor is one of the main causes for the decline of honey bee health. To begin its reproductive cycle, a gravid female mite enters the comb cell of a bee larva just before it is capped, undergoes development and reproduction within the cell, and exits the cell as the adult bee emerges. The main difference between Varroa infestations in their original host, Apis cerana, and Apis mellifera,
is that in the latter, the mites are able to invade and successfully reproduce in worker larval cells. This study examines if worker brood is differently at risk for Varroa invasion with proximity to drone brood. This study also measures developmental brood size with Varroa invasion and feeding. Understanding distribution of Varroa in worker brood and how mite feeding impacts brood developmental will give us a better picture of Varroa impact in our honey bee colonies.