The magnified photographs of the pinhead-sized mite, aptly named Varroa destructor, were capturedby Dr Jonathan Salvage of the University of Brighton, using a state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope (SEM).
Dr Salvage, a Research Fellow in the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has been working with Adam Leitch, a Master Beekeeper, on both a study of plant pollen that honey bees pollinate and aspects of honey bee pest anatomy
Dr Salvage said: “The mite, with its ice-axe-like weapon of attack, the palptarsi claws, is a major threat to honey bees globally. It is involved in the mass destruction and deaths of billions of bees, which, in turn, threatens crop pollination and food production.”
Mr Leitch, a member of the Reigate Beekeepers Association, said it was originally thought that blood loss was responsible for the death of parasitised bees: “But scientists later discovered that these bee mites carry and transmit deadly viruses to bees whilst feeding.