3.2. Rearing mites in the laboratory

It is relatively easy to maintain varroa mites during their phoretic phase (on honey bees or pupae) in the laboratory. Their maintenance in cages kept in incubator is necessary for screening of varroacides, or while marking before transfer to colonies for example. In contrast, few laboratory breeding methods for varroa are available. The conditions reigning in their breeding environment, i.e. in the cells in which honey bees develop, are so particular that it is very difficult to replicate them artificially. Obtaining a full life cycle in the laboratory therefore remains a challenge that few overcame (Donzé and Guérin, 1994; Nazzi and Milani, 1994). This section describes methods to keep or breed varroa in the laboratory. These methods do not yet allow their breeding in large quantities as would be desired for experimentation, but allow observation of mite behaviour and testing of products that may affect the mite's life cycle.