The growth rate (r) of Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman (Acari: Varroidae) populations in Russian and Italian honey bee, Apis mellifera L., colonies was monitored from 2001 to 2003 in Baton Rouge, LA. Over this period, our results consistently showed lower mite growth in the Russian than in the Italian colonies. In 2001, instantaneous growth rates per week (r7) were r7 = 0.191 ± 0.011 for mites in Italian colonies and r7 = 0.137 ± 0.012 in Russian honey bees for 24.3 wk. These growth rates were equivalent to 159.1- and 61.6-fold increase, respectively. Divergence in r7 values also was observed in 2002 when Russian colonies supported a lower growth rate of r7 = 0.061 ± 0.016 (9.3-fold increase) than the Italian colonies (r7 = 0.122 ± 0.01 or a 31.7-fold increase) did after 26 wk. The lowest rate of r7 = 0.021 ± 0.011 (a 1.4-fold increase) was recorded for Russian honey bees in 2003, whereas the Italian bees in that year supported r7 = 0.145 ± 0.009 (an 18.9-fold increase) after 19 wk. This low growth rate of mite populations in Russian colonies may be attributed to several factors. Notably, as this study showed, Russian bees were less attractive to varroa mites. Furthermore, the Russian stock supported low proportions of brood infested and fewer multiply infested cells in both worker and drone brood, reduced mite reproduction, and extended phoretic period.
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Vol. 100 • No. 2