Tropilaelaps | Bee Tradition

An underestimated risk?
By means of: Maggie Gill

Tropilaelaps on bee larvae

Tropilaelaps are a parasitic mite that naturally infests the enormous Asian honey bee species Apis dorsata. Just like varroa, they may be able to reside and reproduce in honey bee colonies feeding on brood, and once more like varroa, they’ve jumped species from their local host to our Western honey bees Apis mellifera. Alternatively, not like large Asian honey bees, who’ve had tens of millions of years to co-evolve with Tropilaelaps and increase herbal defenses, Tropilaelaps have a devastating impact on our Western honey bees and purpose important colony losses. As they pose a any such risk to apiculture the Global Group for Animal Well being (WOAH) listing Tropilaelaps within the terrestrial animal heath code and they’re a notifiable pest in many nations globally.

An Apis dorsata colony

The Nationwide Bee Unit (NBU) is the federal government frame in England and Wales accountable for honey bee well being and mechanically perform unique pest inspections of honey bee colonies to observe for Tropilaelaps. Closing yr noticed a evaluation of the usual running procedures (SOP) used to observe for Tropilaelaps after bee inspectors from the NBU traveled to Thailand and trialled detection tactics on colonies infested with Tropilaelaps. I used to be fortunate sufficient to be a kind of inspectors that traveled to Thailand.

The SOP used to discover Tropilaelaps constructed from 4 detection tactics:

  1. Brood uncapping with an uncapping fork: brood is got rid of from the cells the use of an uncapping fork and tested for mites.
  2. The bump means: frames of brood are bumped on a white tray to dislodge phoretic mites.
  3. Flooring particles sampling: flooring particles is amassed and despatched for laboratory research.
  4. Sticky flooring inserts along side a miticide: the miticide kills any mites in a colony and those are amassed on sticky flooring inserts.

Standard Thai apiary

A busy few weeks ensued, with us touring round Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces in northern Thailand examining colonies, trialling the SOP and refining it as we went. It quickly turned into obvious that not one of the tactics had been good enough for detecting Tropilaelaps, in spite of being broadly documented in WOAH manuals and codes. On the finish of the primary day, we may well be discovered sitting within the lab at Chiang Mai College with our heads in our palms, as a result of 5 people had most effective controlled to search out two Tropilaelaps after a number of hours of the use of the unique SOP tactics. We knew that the college colonies had rather top ranges of Tropilaelaps, however we simply couldn’t in finding any, and after we did, they had been so tough to spot we spent a large number of time asking every different “is that small brown dot a Tropilaelaps or only a small brown dot?” If it was once this tough to search out Tropilaelaps in Thailand, then what probability did we’ve in the United Kingdom?

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The primary adaptation we made was once to make use of tweezers to uncap brood and search for Tropilaelaps. The usage of an uncapping fork broken the brood, and we discovered that any fluids from the broken brood we had uncapped would camouflage any Tropilaelaps. Tropilaelaps also are truly rapid and may just conceal among the brood that had been pulled out with an uncapping fork. Tweezers allowed us to tug out the brood sparsely with out harmful it, taking into account an intensive inspection. We additionally came upon that delicately blowing over the open brood would make any Tropilaelaps within the cells emerge and run over the brush.

The bump means had all the time been problematic in the United Kingdom, as beekeepers had been desirous about how harmful the methodology was once to the brood used. The bump means was once very unreliable at detecting Tropilaelaps and we might steadily bump the frames at the tray and dislodge a couple of mites however see way more mites nonetheless operating round at the comb, and it additionally killed the brood within the bumped frames. Once we returned to the colonies 24 hours later, we noticed huge quantities of brood at the hive flooring that the bees had pulled out.

Accumulating flooring particles samples introduced its personal set of demanding situations. Particles samples would generally be despatched to the lab and washed thru a sequence of increasingly more finer sieves, with Tropilaelaps being stuck within the best of those sieves. As insect and arachnid exoskeletons are manufactured from chitin, which floats in alcohol, those sieves and their contents would then be positioned in 100% ethanol, inflicting any mites within the particles pattern to go with the flow and subsequently be identifiable. Or no less than that was once the idea! Right through the strategy planning stage we had mentioned our plans with researchers in Thailand they usually had mentioned that Tropilaelaps didn’t go with the flow in alcohol, however this didn’t make sense to us as flotation tactics are recurrently used to discover Tropilaelaps. Without a doubt any individual, someplace had checked this ahead of? It became out, no, the anecdotal data was once right kind and we had been not able to get Tropilaelaps to go with the flow!

Varroa (left) and Tropilaelaps (proper) on a bee larvae.

This left us with the overall detection methodology of miticides and sticky flooring inserts to trial. We had taken a spread of varroa therapies with us, however as temperatures had been on the higher limits of the producer’s suggestions (28-35oC), we had been involved that if we did use those therapies the colonies would die or abscond and subsequently, most effective herbal mite drop was once recorded. We had all the time assumed {that a} beekeeper would be capable to see Tropilaelaps among hive particles. But even with just a small quantity of particles and our newly received skilled ‘Tropilaelaps recognizing talents’, we discovered it extremely tough to look Tropilaelaps within the box and wanted to go back to the lab with excellent lights and microscopes to search for Tropilaelaps at the sticky flooring.

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Out of the 4 detection tactics we had got down to trial in Thailand, we had been left with most effective brood uncapping the use of tweezers and sticky flooring inserts, and each tactics now required significantly extra time to deploy successfully. Thankfully, we had additionally made up our minds to trial the varroa detection tactics of an alcohol wash, an icing sugar roll and CO2 tracking to look if those may just reliably discover Tropilaelaps. The alcohol wash was once nice for detecting varroa however disappointingly unreliable at detecting Tropilaelaps and CO2 tracking proved useless for each. It was once subsequently a reduction to search out that an icing sugar roll reliably detected the presence of Tropilaelaps in a colony and was once a quite fast and non-lethal means. We’re no longer 100% positive why this system is so efficient, however we suspect that the sugar clogs up the Tropilaelaps and the bees grooming within the sugar dislodges them. We additionally suspect that Tropilaelaps are simply too small and lightweight to be reliably washed off bees in an alcohol wash. Regardless of the explanation why, this a part of the trial supposed that we now had two box and a laboratory methodology for reliably detecting Tropilaelaps, and this was once a large reduction after our miserable first day. It additionally supposed that shall we go back to the United Kingdom and be assured that our box and laboratory paintings would discover Tropilaelaps if it had been offered unintentionally.

Maggie Gill is a senior scientist at Defra and labored on the Nationwide Bee Unit for 10 years as a Seasonal Bee Inspector and because the Regional Bee Inspector for Wales. Maggie is lately running on analysis into Tropilaelaps survival and transmission, the efficacy of miticides for Tropilaelaps detection and the tracking of risky natural compounds in honey bee colonies to discover subclinical illness, pest incursions and environmental contamination. She has saved bees for nearly two decades and may be a small-scale queen and nucleus manufacturer.

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