Varroa preference for drone brood

The question of why Varroa might prefer invading drone brood is easily answered: They have more time to produce offspring due to the longer development of the male pupae. However, Yves Le Conte’s great discovery that Varroa hones in on male-produced chemicals (DOI:10.1126/science.245.4918.638) may only part of the answer to the question of how the Varroa foundresses preferentially invade drone cells. It might also have to do with opportunity as we show in this collaborative publication lead by former MSc student Taylor Reams (doi:10.1093/jisesa/ieae044) that drone cells are more visited by nurse bees, and more visitation by nurse bees is associated with higher Varroa infestation probability (although this important result isn’t really clear when you just read the abstract).

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