varroa destructor, a parasitic mite that infests honey bees. It was originally a pest of apis cerana which seems to have found a way to live with the mite. When it was introduced to Britain our honey bees sufferred great losses as apis mellifera has no resistance to it. During their phoretic phase the mites can move from adult bee to adult bee and as they ride on the bees they drink the bees' haemolymph. Unfortunately they also transmit various viruses from bee to bee in the process which can further weaken a colony. Some research seems to indicate that, although the viruses the mites spread are already in the bee population, viruses spread in this way by the mite are more virulant. Many methods have been attempted to control the mite but the consensus of opinion is that an Integrated Pest Management approach is best - good husbandry, some chemicals, keeping colonies strong and healthy and so better able to resist the mite and the viruses. The mite breeds in the capped cells as the bee larvae mature. One female mite will enter the cell and begin feeding off the larva. When the cell is capped this female will lay an egg every 30 hours, up to 6 eggs. The developing mites feed on the larva. The first offspring the mite has laid is male, it mates in the cell with all the others which are female, so that when the adult bee emerges, a number of pregnant female mites are ready to find other cells to enter and the cycle continues. The male mites, and any immature female mites left in the cell, die. The mites show a preference for drone brood, this is thought to be due to the fact that drones take 3 days more than workers to mature and emerge, giving the mite longer to reproduce and for its offspring to mature.
a fine mesh material used over the front of a hood or a hat to prevent bees from stinging the face and neck. Many beesuits have integral veils so there is no gap at the neck. It is generally advised that veils are hand washed as machine washing can damage the mesh.
bee venom is a mixture of chemicals produced by two separate poison glands. One produces a thick alkaline secretion the other a watery acid which, when mixed, form a potent venom. It is stored in the venom sack in the abdomen of worker bees. Potency can vary with different strains, time of year and age of bee.
there is a variety of viruses that affect bees. The most common one present in British Bees is the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). The virulance of this virus is increased by factors that weaken the larvae, such as varroa or tropilaelaps. Other viruses include: Black Queen Virus; Acute Israeli Paralysis Virus; Chronic Paralysis Virus; Kashmir Bee Virus