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Tracheal Mites

The Tracheal mite, infests the tracheal system of adult bees, queens, workers and drones, equally. Since it was first reported in Apis mellifera colonies in Europe in 1921, opinions regarding the extent of the damage it can cause to honey bee colonies have varied.

It is a small mite (0.1 m) that lives and breeds within the tracheal area of adult bees. The mite penetrates through the spiracles into the first trachea pair of the thorax of 10-day old honey bees, where it lays eggs at intervals of a few days. Male offspring emerge after around 12 days and females after 13 to 16 days.

How do I spot it?

There is no definitive visible of detecting the mite infestation. It is known that even badly infested bees can forage normally. However, the abilities of infested individuals and colonies to survive winter are compromised and life spans shortened. Physiological examination under microscope of the tracheal area is the most reliable method to detect the infestation.