3.4. Collecting mites from adult bees

As mentioned, adult Tropilaelaps mites are usually only present in low numbers on adult bees in any given bee colony. Hence, it is usually a waste of time trying to manually find them on individual bees. A simple method for collecting them from adult bees is:

  1. Collect a sample of 200 or so adult bees from an infested colony into a transparent container (such as a plastic bottle) that contains 70% ethyl alcohol.
  2. Secure the lid on the container and shake it vigorously for about 1 minute.
  3. Collect mites from the bottom of the container into containers containing fresh 70% ethyl alcohol, as described for Varroa mites in Dietemann et al., (2013).

Mites can also be removed from adult bees by washing the bees in soapy water or by treating them by the ‘sugar-shake’ method as also described for Varroa mites in Dietemann et al., (2013). Also, an alternative method to placing adult bees into ethanol, soapy water or sugar prior to shaking to dislodge mites, is to place the bees into plastic bags, label accordingly and freeze until the bees can be visually examined. However, this is much slower than the shaking methods.

Pros:  A quick and simple method for finding mites on adult bees in any given infested bee colony.

Cons:  Bee colonies need to be relatively highly infested with mites for this method to succeed. To increase the chances of collecting mites from adult bees, one can select a frame with emerging brood to collect mites emerging with the bees. However, it should be remembered that some of those mites will be new adults and may not be mated or fully mature.