Acarapidosis of bees: symptoms of tracheal mite damage, treatment and prevention

Acarapidosis of bees: symptoms of tracheal mite damage, treatment and prevention

Honey bees are susceptible to tick infestation. Acarapidosis is a disease of bees caused by the Acarapis mite. The body of the bee is not able to overcome the infection on its own. Ticks inhabit its windpipe, bases of wings, feed on hemolymph. Crawling from bee to bee, mites infect the entire bee family, and then the apiary. Apiaries within a radius of 5 km are at risk of infection from sick bees.

What is bee acarapidosis?

The name of the disease comes from the name of an insect that infects the body of a bee. Acarapis is a microscopic tracheal mite, less than 0.2 mm in length.You can only see it through a magnifying glass/microscope. A dangerous quarantine parasite that lives in the respiratory system of honey bees.

Female ticks penetrate the trachea of young insects (not older than 12 days), where they lay 5-7 eggs. After 12 days, larvae appear from them, until the adult stage of which another 10-12 days are required. After mating, the mites come out and settle under the bases of the wings, from where they crawl onto other young bees or the queen bee. Insects older than 2 weeks are not subject to tick attack due to the structural features of their trachea.

In the body of the honey plant, parasites infect the epithelium of the trachea. Absorbing hemolymph, they clog the windpipe with waste products and their bodies. The toxic effect of acarapis on the body is expressed in hypoxia (lack of oxygen), as well as poisoning with the feces of ticks and larvae. As a result of a metabolic disorder, the insect weakens, paralysis and deformation of the wings occur, and the chitinous cover is destroyed.After the death of the “owner”, the tick passes to another.

One bee can have up to 100 parasites. Infection occurs by contact during swarming, at the drinking bowl. The life span of a tick under favorable conditions is 40 days. At high temperature and dry air, it dies. In an empty hive, ticks live for about 5 days, in a dead body - up to 6 days. The outbreak of acarapidosis in the southern regions occurs in the summer, in the middle lane - in the summer and winter (during wintering, when the bees warm themselves against each other). The duration of the epidemic in one bee colony (before its death) in the south can last 5 seasons, in areas with a long winter - 2 years.


The first year or two, the defeat of the tick is not striking. Obvious signs appear when half of the bee colonies are infected, which means the presence of a tick in the apiary for a long period.

Signs of acarapidosis in bees:

  1. Eat more food and vilify at the same time.
  2. There are a lot of bees crawling and trying to fly near the hive.
  3. Upon close examination of a sick bee, it is noticeable that its wings are inverted, the abdomen is swollen.
  4. Dead insects are found in groups on grass or ground.

The beekeeper should be alerted by the general mood in the hive: annoyed buzzing for no apparent reason.

How to tell?

Accurate diagnosis can be made with the help of laboratory tests in the veterinary service. Live and dead insects are caught in the amount of 40-50 individuals from each hive and sent for research. Their windpipes are examined under a microscope.

The stage of tick damage is judged by its appearance:

  • yellow spots - 1-6 days affected;
  • blackheads and brittleness - 6 to 23 days;
  • black color showing eggs and mites - 23 to 30 days.

When the diagnosis is confirmed, quarantine is declared within a radius of 5 km from the diseased apiary. All bee colonies in this area are subject to treatment, without exception.

Methods of treating the disease

Acarapidosis cannot be cured without destroying the infected bees. The tick parasitizes inside the host. For treatment, poisonous top dressing, spraying, fumigation, which kill parasites, are used. Dead ticks block the trachea, which leads to the death of the "carrier" as well.

The most effective way is fumigation of the hives. Fumigation is carried out in the morning or evening hours, when all the bees are in the hive. The air temperature must be at least 16 degrees.Otherwise, the air will concentrate at the bottom of the hive and will not affect all the bees. Previously, the hives are inspected for cracks and defects are eliminated.

Internal space should be freed up as much as possible, there should be enough food and water for the bees. The dead bees after the procedure are removed from the hive and burned. Processing is carried out daily throughout the apiary for 2 months.

Strips are a kind of fumigation. The essence of the method is the release of substances toxic to ticks from a strip placed inside the hive. The plate is either set on fire, and it slowly smolders, or after opening the package, volatile substances evaporate.

Pharmacy products

Chemical acaricides used in acarapidosis:

  • "Bjolius" (in the form of top dressing, spraying);
  • Ecoflu (stripes);
  • "Ant" gel (gel-like mass with the smell of formic acid, for fumigation);
  • Teda (stripes);
  • Akarasan (plates);
  • "Bipin" (fumigation, spraying).

The effect of the use of anti-acarapidosis drugs is achieved if the rules specified in the instructions are followed: according to the concentration of the composition, duration and frequency of treatments.

Folk methods

Essential oils of pine, fir, spruce have an inhibitory effect on ticks. A cotton swab soaked in oil is placed inside the hive for 1 hour for 3-5 days. Beekeepers use toxic chemicals based on nitrobenzene and methyl salicylate in their practice.

Prevention measures

To prevent an outbreak of acarapidosis, apiaries should be placed in dry, sunny places. Livestock should be purchased from trusted nurseries. If this is a new seller, then it is necessary to conduct clinical analyzes of insects. Hives and combs after infected families are disinfected and kept for a week. If there have been cases of acarapidosis in the area, the hives should be treated every spring before the start of the honey collection.

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