New Delhi, India (November 13-14, 2006) A virulent (Korean) haplotype of the mite Varroa destructor Anderson &Truman is reported to be spreading fast in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan, according to a paper presented by Chhuneja, Gatoria and Anderson at the International Workshop on Integrated Beekeeping Development in South Asian Countries held in New Delhi during November 13 - 14, 2006.
The new mite species was first observed in bee colonies in Punjab in late 2004 and was reported to cause serious bee losses and depletion of colony strength. During April - June, 2006 nearly 23 per cent of 7592 Apis mellifera colonies tested from different agroclimatic zones of Punjab were found infested with Varroa destructor.
Varroa destructor and the earlier known Varroa jacobsoni, both parasitize Apis cerana; but the only Varroa mites that can reproduce in colonies of Apis mellifera are the Korea and Japan/Thailand genotypes of Varroa destructor (see Wikipedia). Chhuneja, Gatoria and Anderson feel that unauthorized introduction of some untested race and 'hybrid' bees into India may have caused the new mite to gain entry into Apis mellifera colonies in the State.
Although there are several chemical and non-chemical methods of control and prevention of the mite infestation, the fast spread of the mite in bee colonies in Punjab and adjacent states may be due to the unscientific and un-recommended practices of bee management followed by beekeepers.