Communal use of integumental wounds in honey bee (Apis mellifera) pupae multiply infested by the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor

Ghazwan Kanbar and Wolf Engels
Published August 9, 2005
Genet. Mol. Res. 4 (3): 465-472 (2005)

About the Authors
Ghazwan Kanbar and Wolf Engels

Corresponding author
W. Engels


The ectoparasitic bee mite, Varroa destructor, is highly adapted to its natural and adopted honey bee hosts, Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. Adult females perforate the integument of bee pupae in such a way that they and their progeny can feed. We examined the wounds that founder females made, and usually found one, and rarely up to three, integumental wounds on pupae of A. mellifera multiply infested by V. destructor. The punctures were mainly on the 2nd abdominal sternite of the host. These perforations are used repeatedly as feeding sites by these hemolymph-sucking mites and by their progeny. The diameter of the wounds increased during pupal development. In brood cells containing 4-5 invading female mites and their progeny, healing of the wound is delayed, normally occurring just before the imaginal moult of the bee pupa. These wounds are subject to microbial infections, and they are relevant to the evolution of behavioral traits in these parasitic mites and their relations to host bees.

Key words: Apis mellifera, Varroa destructor, Pathogen invasion, Multiple brood infestation, Evolution of parasite-host relations, Integumental wounds.

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