Acarine Mites

The mite named Acarapis Woodi is responsible for the development of the acarine disease in the case of honey bees. In the USA this mite is also named Tracheal Mite. The acarine is a parasitic disease similar to Varroa but less harmful. The Acarapis Woodi actually lives, feeds itself and multiplies within the tracheae of honey bees. The mite is outside the bee only when it is mated and moves from one host into another.

This type of acarine mite is specific for the honey bees and does not have any other hosts. The Acarine Mites effect only adult bees while leaving aside the brood. All adult bees in a hive, the queen bee include can be infested with acarine mites. However, they prefer young bees that are less than a week old. The adult female mites penetrate the anterior thoracic spiracles of these hive inhabitants. The eggs are laid in the trachea and the larvae feed themselves with the bees' haemolymph. If the infestation is severe the Acarine Mites can be found in other parts of the honey bee body such as: the abdominal air sacs, the thoracic sacs and even in the head.

The Acarine is a seasonal infestation having its highest peak during winter; in summer time the mite loses its power. A bee family that has more than forty per cent of its individuals infested with acarine has little chances to survive all through the cold season. The bees' resistance to the mite varies according to their genetic inheritance. It has been observed that the individuals belonging to the Buckfast hybrid are particularly resistant to the attacks of the Acarine Mites.

Acarine Mite Characteristics

The Acarine Mite is microscopic and it has a white color. It is around 150 um. Its shape is oval and it has long hairs on its body and legs. The immature acarine has three pairs of legs while the fully grown-up mite has four pairs of legs.

Hive infestation with Acarine Mites

The Acarine Mites spread quickly from one bee to another through direct contact. The disease spreads throughout an apiary by drifting of the ill individuals. The infestation also spreads if the infested families are divided and combined with healthy ones. The infestation can be done by swarms that come from ill families or by purchasing infested queens and worker bees.

ums of the disease

As already pointed out the Acarine Mites develop during the cold season. The effects are evident in early spring days. Beekeepers find it difficult to identify the infection in the early stages. A heavily Acarine Mites infested hive presents the following ums:
1. The bee family is dead or has a very much reduced population in early spring
2. The adult bees are unable to fly and therefore they have to crawl at the entrance of the hive.
3. One of the wings sticks out and forms a right angle with the rest of the body; this is also called the "K-wings" symptom
4. There is a large number of dead bees in the hive in early um but enough food in the cell combs
5. The infected bees cluster at the hive entrance and they look very confused and even disoriented

An Acarine Mites infestation can shorten the lifespan of honey bees thus determining the "spring dwindling". The adult honey bees die at the beginning of spring leaving no one to take care of the brood. Thus, the whole bee colony extinguishes.

Since the Acarine Mites are microscopic creature it is impossible to detect them without a microscope. The infestation can be identified through laboratory analysis of the honey bee tracheae- the place where the mite lives. In order to do the analysis one needs a sample of thirty to fifty adult honey bees. The trachea of a healthy honey bee has a uniform, white and creamy aspect. The trachea of an ill honey bee is discolored and has dark stains on it determined by mites feeding process.


Honey bee treatment in the USA needs to be approved by the food and drug administration department. The menthol crystal treatment is the only chemical intervention approved in the USA for the treatment of Acarine or Tracheal Mites.

Menthol crystals can be used in order to treat colonies form Acarine Mites. The Menthol vapors are inhaled by honey bees and thus the mites die. The Menthol has the capacity to kill the adult mites but it does not eliminate the Acarine Mites eggs and larvae. For this reason its effects are felt only after two weeks.

The menthol crystals must be put in small plastic screen packets, each packet having around 50 grams. The crystals will change into gas once inside the hive. For a proper evaporation the temperature should be above 15.5 degrees C but below 30 degrees C. The ideal temperature would be 21 degrees C. If the temperature is above 30 degrees C the menthol evaporated too quickly preventing the bees from unfolding their daily activities. If the temperature is too low then the menthol does not evaporate sufficiently so as to effectively cure the infested families. The methanol should be put on the top hive bars just above the brood cells. If the outside temperature is above 27 degrees C it is advisable to put the menthol sack on the floor of the hive.

It is advisable to do the menthol treatment in autumn and early spring when the outside temperature is above 15.5 degrees C. The treatment should last between fifteen to twenty-five days. The treatment must be over one month before the any nectar flow so as to avoid the honey contamination. Honey that contains traces of menthol must not be sold.

The Acarine Mites infested families can also be treated with grease patties. The patties consist of a mixture of lard and granulated sugar. They can also be made from liquid vegetable oil and powdered sugar. The grease and the oil can hide the smell of young bees which are favored by the mites. The patty has the form of a cake. It has to be put inside the hive on wax paper. While the honey bees eat the sugar they get grease or oil all over their bodies thus preventing the acarine mites from moving from one host to another and from reproducing themselves. This leads to the death of the Acarine Mites.

There are beekeepers that use flower of sulfur in their fight against the Acarine Mites. In order to do that the beekeepers add a teaspoon of sulfur powder into their smoker and then puff the mixture all over the honey bees. This action is done in the evening since the hive entrance has to be closed for twenty minutes. The fumes kill the mites that live in the tracheae of the Acarine Mites infected honey bees.

The best treatment is to re-queen the bee families that are sensible to the Acarine Mites infestation.

Honey bee disease > Acarine mites > Acute bee paralysis virus > American Foulbrood > Black Queen Cell Virus > Bee louse> Chalkbrood > Chilled Brood > Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus > Cloudy wing virus > Colony Collapse Disorder > Deformed Wing Virus > Bee Dysentery > European Foulbrood > Israelii acute paralysis virus > Kashmir Bee Virus > Nosema > Sacbrood virus > Bee septicemia > Stonebrood > Varroa Mite >

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