As a first line of pest control, IPM programs work to manage the crop, lawn, or indoor space to prevent pests from becoming a threat. In an agricultural crop, this may mean using cultural methods, such as rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. These control methods can be very effective and cost-efficient and present little to no risk to people or the environment.
Once monitoring, identification, and action thresholds indicate that pest control is required, and preventive methods are no longer effective or available, IPM programs then evaluate the proper control method both for effectiveness and risk. Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would be employed, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.
(This information is from the University of Georgia Honey Bee Lab website at with some additional updates.)
Varroa Mites (Varroa destructor):
Varroa mites are external, obligate parasites of worker and drone honey bees. Varroa mites are visible with the naked eye and look somewhat like a tick. They feed on the hemolymph of adult bees and the developing brood. The reproduction cycle of the mite takes place inside the cells. Female mites (foundresses) enter the brood cells of last stage worker or drone larvae just prior to the cells being capped. There she will deposit five to six eggs over a period of time while feeding on the brood. The first egg laid will be unfertilized and develop into a male. The subsequent eggs will be fertilized and develop into females. The eggs hatch and the young mites begin to feed on the developing pupa. It is normal for mating to occur between siblings. The adult female mites along with the original female mite(s) leave the cell when the bee emerges. The female mites will enter another cell or attach themselves to an adult bee to feed. Varroa mites are transported from colony to colony by drifting or robbing bees.
Varroa destructor is a common mite found on Apis cerana, the Asian honey bee on which it does not cause serious damage like it does on Apis mellifera. These mites were accidentally introduced into the United States in the mid 1980s. Before this time, honey bees were found coast to coast across the United States. Now only an estimated 2% of the feral honey bee population remains, and even this derives annually from honey bee