A high proportion of nonreproductive (NR) Varroa destructor Anderson & Trueman (Mesostigmata: Varroidae), is commonly observed in honey bee colonies displaying the varroa sensitive hygienic trait (VSH). This study was conducted to determine the influence of brood removal and subsequent host reinvasion of varroa mites on mite reproduction. We collected foundress mites from stages of brood (newly sealed larvae, prepupae, white-eyed pupae, and pink-eyed pupae) and phoretic mites from adult bees. We then inoculated these mites into cells containing newly sealed larvae. Successful reproduction (foundress laid both a mature male and female) was low (13%) but most common in mites coming from sealed larvae. Unsuccessful reproductive attempts (foundress failed to produce both a mature male and female) were most common in mites from sealed larvae (22%) and prepupae (61%). Lack of any progeny was most common for mites from white-eyed (83%) and pink-eyed pupae (92%). We also collected foundress mites from sealed larvae and transferred them to cells containing newly sealed larvae, prepupae, white-eyed pupae, or pink-eyed pupae. Successful reproduction only occurred in the transfers to sealed larvae (26%). Unsuccessful reproductive attempts were most common in transfers to newly sealed larvae (40%) and to prepupae (25%). Unsuccessful attempts involved the production of immature progeny (60%), the production of only mature daughters (26%) or the production of only a mature male (14%). Generally, lack of progeny was not associated with mites having a lack of stored sperm. Our results suggest that mites exposed to the removal of prepupae or older brood due to hygiene are unlikely to produce viable mites if they invade new hosts soon after brood removal. Asynchrony between the reproductive status of reinvading mites and the developmental stage of their reinvasion hosts may be a primary cause of NR mites in hygienic colonies. Even if reinvading mites use hosts having the proper age for infestation, only a minority of them will reproduce.
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Vol. 104 • No. 4