Varroa mites may be mighty small – about the size of the head of a pin – but the parasites are a primary cause of colony collapse disorder, a large problem for honeybee populations worldwide. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences debunks the long-held belief that the mites feed on “bee blood” – AKA hemolymph.
North Carolina State University entomologist Allen Cohen, a co-author on the PNAS paper, wasn’t surprised by the study’s results. For years, he’s contended that the mites’ digestive system and the content of their excrement point to another, denser food source.
Samuel Ramsey and his University of Maryland colleagues found that Cohen was right. Conducting the research as part of his doctoral studies under Professor Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Ramsey determined that instead of drinking hemolymph, the mites consume the bees’ fat body, an organ that stores and uses nutrients as they are needed.
Read more at Vegetable Growers News here.