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Varroa destructor, 1 2019-09-06-19.12.07 ZS PMax UDR (48697155713).jpg
Varroa destructor2 2019-09-06-19.10.23 ZS PMax UDR (48697673082).jpg
Varroa destructor in dorsal (top) and ventral (lower) views
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Mesostigmata
Superfamily: Dermanyssoidea
Family: Varroidae
Delfinado & Baker, 1974[3]
Genus: Varroa
Oudemans, 1904[1][2]

Varroa destructor
Varroa jacobsoni
Varroa rindereri
Varroa sinhai
Varroa wongsirii

Varroa is a genus of parasitic mesostigmatan mites associated with honey bees, placed in its own family, Varroidae.[4] The genus was named for Marcus Terentius Varro, a Roman scholar and beekeeper. The condition of a honeybee colony being infested with Varroa mites is called varroosis (also, incorrectly, varroatosis).

Varroa mites, specifically the species Varroa destructor, are recognised as the biggest pest to honeybees worldwide due to their ability to transmit diseases such as deformed wing virus (or DWV) to larval or pupating bees, resulting in death or severe deformity of the pupae.

History and behavior[edit]

Varroa mites feed off the fat body tissue of adult, pupal, and larval honey bees,[5] and may carry viruses that are particularly damaging to the bees (e.g., deformed wings, and IAPV), and accordingly they have been implicated in colony collapse disorder. Research has indicated that alone, neither Varroa mites nor deformed wing virus are particularly deadly, yet together they can pose an incredible risk to colonies.[6][7]

Varroa mites were first discovered in Java about 1904,[8] but are now present in all honey bee populations except the Isle of Man. Because of the lack of varroa in Isle of Man, on February 16th 2015, the EU made a decision that allowed the Isle of Man to block the importation of all bee-related supplies.[9]

They were discovered in the United States in 1987, in New Zealand in 2000,[10] and in the United Kingdom in 1992.[citation needed]

Australia was free of the mites until a routine inspection at the Port of Newcastle on 22 June, 2022 detected an infestation.[11] Eradication is unlikely because no other introduction elsewhere in the world has been eradicated.[12]

Bee-breeding efforts to develop resistance against Varroa are ongoing. The USDA has developed a line of bees which uses Varroa-sensitive hygiene to remove reproductive mites. This line is now being distributed to beekeepers to be used as part of their integrated pest management programs.


The genus Varroa contains these species:[4]


Some honey bees strains have been bred to be resistant to Varroa,[15][16] through Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) behavior, enabling them to detect reproducing varroa mites and diseased pupae within capped cells, which are then uncapped and the pupae removed.


  1. ^ a b Oudemans, A. C. (1904). "On a New Genus and Species of Parasitic Acari". Notes from the Leyden Museum. 24 (4): 216–222.
  2. ^ a b Oudemans, A. C. (1904). "Acarologische Aanteekeningen XII". Entomologische Berichten. 1 (18): 160–164.
  3. ^ a b Delfinado, M. D.; Baker, E. W. (1974). "Varroidae, A New Family of Mites on Honey Bees (Mesostigmata: Acarina)". Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 64 (1): 4–10. JSTOR 24535743.
  4. ^ a b Joel Hallan. "Varroidae Delfinado & Baker, 1974". Texas A&M University. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Ramsey, Samuel D.; Ochoa, Ronald; Bauchan, Gary; Gulbronson, Connor; Mowery, Joseph D.; Cohen, Allen; Lim, David; Joklik, Judith; Cicero, Joseph M. (2019-01-29). "Varroa destructor feeds primarily on honey bee fat body tissue and not hemolymph". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (5): 1792–1801. doi:10.1073/pnas.1818371116. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 6358713. PMID 30647116.
  6. ^ "Mites, Viruses Sicken Bee Hives - Colony Collapse Disorder - Hawaiian Honeybee Infection". 7 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Bees Wiped Out by Cascade of Deadly Events". 17 May 2005.
  8. ^ a b D. L. Anderson & J. W. H. Trueman (2000). "Varroa jacobsoni (Acari: Varroidae) is more than one species". Experimental and Applied Acarology. 24 (3): 165–189. doi:10.1023/A:1006456720416. PMID 11108385. S2CID 12271915.
  9. ^ "Isle of Man Government - Bees". Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  10. ^ Zhi-Qian Zhang (2000). "Notes on Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae) parasitic on honeybees in New Zealand" (PDF). Systematic & Applied Acarology. Special Publications. 5: 9–14.
  11. ^ "New Varroa mite detection linked to Newcastle". Newcastle Weekly. 2022-07-04. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  12. ^ "Here's what you need to know about the Varroa mite". Australian National University. 2022-07-04. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  13. ^ de Guzman, L. I.; Delfinado-Baker, M. (1996). "A new species of Varroa (Acari: Varroidae) associated with Apis koschevnikovi (Apidae: Hymenoptera) in Borneo". International Journal of Acarology. 22 (1): 23–27. doi:10.1080/01647959608684077.
  14. ^ Lekprayoon, C.; Tangkanasing, P. (1991). "Euvarroa wongsirii, a new species of bee mite from Thailand". International Journal of Acarology. 17 (4): 255–258. doi:10.1080/01647959108683915.
  15. ^ "Arista Bee Research - Foundation for breeding varroa resistant honey bees".
  16. ^ "USDA ARS Online Magazine Vol. 47, No. 8".

External links[edit]

  • Data related to Varroa at Wikispecies
  • Media related to Varroa at Wikimedia Commons