Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Quantitative and Qualitative Changes in the Deformed Wing Virus Population in Honey Bees Associated with the Introduction or Removal of Varroa destructor

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Giles Budge



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Varroa destructor is an ectoparasitic mite associated with significant losses of honeybee colonies globally. The mite vectors a range of pathogenic viruses, the most important of which is the Deformed wing virus (DWV). In the absence of Varroa, DWV exists as a low-level, highly diverse virus population. However, when transmitted by Varroa, certain variants become highly elevated, and may become near-clonal and cause symptomatic infections. Mite transmission between colonies can occur when parasitised workers drift from or rob adjacent hives. These activities can result in elevated mite levels, but the resulting change in the DWV population, the primary determinant of winter colony losses, has not been determined. In reciprocal studies, we investigated the influence of the removal of mites, or their acquisition, on the DWV population. When mites were removed from heavily infested colonies, there was a striking and rapid reduction in virus load. Conversely, siting Varroa-naïve colonies in a mite-infested apiary resulted in the acquisition of mites and concomitant changes in the virus population. We observed both near-clonal and highly divergent virus populations regardless of titre, suggesting changes were stochastic and colony-specific. Our findings have implications for the outcome of strategies in areas with total or patchy implementation of Varroa control plans.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woodford L, Christie CR, Campbell EM, Budge GE, Bowman AS, Evans DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Viruses

Year: 2022

Volume: 14

Issue: 8

Print publication date: 01/05/2022

Online publication date: 22/07/2022

Acceptance date: 19/07/2022

Date deposited: 05/09/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1999-4915

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/v14081597

PubMed id: 35893663


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name