5.3. Methods for studying mite development on giant Asian honey bees

There are virtually no reported studies on the life cycle of different species of Tropilaelaps on their native Asian giant bee hosts. This is a pity, as mites of the different species do not typically cause as much harm to their giant honey bee hosts as they do to A. mellifera. Hence studies on the life cycles of mites on the giant honey bees could provide clues as to how to control them on A. mellifera.

Studies on the life cycle of Tropilaelaps mites on their giant honey bee hosts in Asia can be done as follows:

  • First, and most importantly, locate a local ‘honey-hunter’ to gain access to a nest, as virtually all giant honey bee nests in the wild in Asia are ‘owned’ by a local hunter and accessing them without permission (or help) can lead to serious problems.
  • Once a nest is located, smoke the bees off the single comb (typically most of the bees will fly off the comb when it is smoked, but they will return later).
  • Remove a section of the comb that contains capped brood using a sharp knife (in this way the comb will not be significantly damaged and the bees will soon return to it and resume their normal activities).
  • Transport the comb to the comfort of the laboratory for examination.
  • In the laboratory open each capped cell and remove the developing bee noting the approximate age of the bee (prepupa, white –eyed pupa, pink-eyed pupa, and so on).
  • Record how many individuals of the various mite stage are present.
  • Collate the recorded data.

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

Cons: It is often difficult to gain access to wild nests.