How Does Varroa Mite Kill a Bee Hive? A Surprising Twist.

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How Varroa Kills hives.


In the intricate world of beekeeping, the Varroa mite emerges as a formidable adversary. First detected in Australia in June 2022, Ecrotek Beekeeping has 20+ years of managing varroa mite in Australia and New Zealand.

Dr. Mark Goodwin's enlightening exploration of Varroa's impact reveals a fascinating facet – it's not just the mite itself that spells doom for hives. Instead, the insidious accomplice responsible for colony devastation is a legion of viruses that Varroa aids in spreading.

This revelation carries profound implications for beekeepers worldwide, including those in Australia grappling with the recent Varroa Mite incursion.

The Varroa-Virus Nexus:

Dr. Goodwin's insights shed light on the intricate dance between Varroa mites and viruses within bee colonies. While many viruses struggle to breach the bee's defences, Varroa becomes a willing vector, facilitating their entry. The consequence is not Varroa's direct impact on the bees but rather the viral onslaught that ensues, wreaking havoc within the colony.

The Changing Landscape:

The evolving nature of the Varroa-virus relationship poses a dynamic challenge for beekeepers. Dr. Goodwin's historical perspective reveals a shifting target, where the number of Varroa required to inflict harm has decreased over time.

This evolving dynamic prompts crucial questions about how Varroa and viruses adapt, emphasising the need for constant vigilance and adaptable strategies in beekeeping practices.

Australian Advantage: Gear Irradiation:

The mention ofgear irradiation in Australia introduces a potential game-changer. Dr. Goodwin speculates on whether irradiating equipment could alter the dynamics of Varroa Mite infestations. The Australian beekeeping community holds a unique advantage in being able to irradiate gear. The question arises: Can gear irradiation mitigate the impact of Varroa-induced viruses, possibly reverting to pre-introduction Varroa threat levels?

Survival Mechanisms and Colony Health:

Varroa's toll on colonies is underscored by the rapid spread of viruses within infected hives. Dr. Goodwin elaborates on the survival mechanisms of colonies and the challenges posed when an entire bee population succumbs to illness. The poignant image of sick bees leaving to die elsewhere becomes a grim reality, highlighting the urgency for beekeepers to comprehend and manage Varroa and its viral accomplices effectively.


As beekeepers globally confront the Varroa challenge, Dr. Mark Goodwin's discourse on the Varroa-virus nexus provides a pivotal perspective. The understanding that it is the viruses, not Varroa alone, that jeopardise colonies reframes the approach to Varroa management.

Australian beekeepers, equipped with this knowledge, can forge innovative strategies, and leverage their unique advantages to navigate the complex interplay between Varroa mites and viral threats, safeguarding the health and resilience of their honeybee colonies.