5.2. Methods for studying mite development on A. mellifera

No artificial media has been described for rearing Tropilaelaps mites and hence aspects of their reproduction must be studied within a bee colony. To study their life cycle in an A. mellifera colony one first needs to select a colony that is already reasonably infested with mites. The general method is as follows:

  • Determine mite infestation levels in a number of A. mellifera colonies by removing the cell cappings from 300 capped cells/colony and determining how many contain mites.
  • Select a colony with the highest mite infestation and use this for further studies.
  • Remove 2 brood combs from the middle of the brood area of the selected colony and replaced them with 2 brood combs from a non-infested colony that contains larvae that are 2-3 days away from being capped (Note: these brood combs can be obtained from other nearby colonies in which queen bees have been restrained to combs with a queen excluder for 24 hours. The queens will fill the cells of the combs with eggs, meaning that all brood that develops for the eggs with be within 24 hours of the same age).
  • Once the 2 brood combs have been capped, remove 1 at regular intervals to the laboratory (usually every 12 or 24 hours is best).
  • In the laboratory uncap a number of cells, remove the bee brood and determine the number of adult mites, eggs and mite nymphs within each cell.
  • Once all cells on this comb have been inspected, move on to the second comb.
  • Collate the recorded data. There are many methods by which this can be done but a simple method is simply to produce a diagram of the capping phase of the bee and plot the data recorded directly onto it.

Pros:  This method is relatively simple and will show the progression of mite development, from egg to adult.

Cons:  The method requires access to both infested and no-infested bee colonies.