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Small mites that cause big problems for bees

17 January 2020
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Small mites that cause big problems for bees

Small mites that cause big problems for bees

(EN) While they work hard at gathering nectar and pollen for honey production, honeybees play an important role in our communities and gardens by pollinating many of the crops that produce the fruits and vegetables we like. In fact, bees and other pollinators are responsible for the production of a third of the food we eat.


Beekeepers in Canada own close to a million hives. However, a small creature found in these hives is likely to ruin their efforts: the Varroa mite.

This little red parasite attaches to bees and feeds on their blood, or hemolymph. Varroa mites are responsible for the loss of hives every year around the world. In fact, they are even said to pose the greatest threat to bee health.

How can something so small turn out to be such a big problem?


They spread

There are many ways in which a hive can become infested with Varroa mites: if it comes into contact with an already infested hive; whether these mites benefit from “free transportation” on beekeeping equipment; or if they are transferred from flower to flower by other pollinators, among other things.


They breed

Varroa mites reproduce so quickly that their population in an infested hive can grow exponentially in a few weeks.

They are resistant

Bees have no natural defense against Varroa mites. This means it is up to beekeepers to watch for signs of infestation and treat hives, especially with a type of pesticide called acaricide.



They are harmful

It’s not funny to know that Varroa mites weaken bees by feeding on their blood. Even worse, they spread diseases that can devastate an entire hive. This makes bees more sensitive to other factors that can affect their health, such as bad weather and lack of food.



While the average Canadian cannot help bees fight Levarroa, they can still support them in one important way: by establishing attractive gardens for pollinators.

Organizations like Precious Bees are dedicated to helping people provide this support. They provide free seed bags with which to create hospitable flower gardens for bees and other pollinators, which will provide them with nutritious food. Get your own seed packet online at preciousbee.ca.

Small mites that cause big problems for bees

Also read:  Are rental plans option to buy right for you?

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