Prevalence of varroa: Influence of altitude and management practices on the degree of infestation in Uganda
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Varroa mite has been a concern and worry to the bee scientists and beekeepers since it was first discovered in 1904, and continues to be the most serious parasite of honeybees. It causes clinical symptoms on the brood and adult bees. It has been incriminated as one of the causes of bee colony losses in Europe. In Africa, Varroa was first reported in South Africa in 1997. This study determined the occurrence and degree of infestation of Varroa mites in five agro-ecological zones in Uganda and also examined the influence of altitude and management attributes on the degree of Varroa infestation. Alcohol wash method was used to dislodge Varroa mites from the bees sampled from 300 hives across 150 beekeepers operating as individual and group beekeepers. A Global positioning system was used to take the coordinates and altitude of the apiary sites surveyed. A questionnaire was used to get information on hive management attributes. Varroa load was statistically significant between the levels of infestations amongst the agro-ecological zones while levels of incidence were not. Differences in the level of Varroa load infestation amongst the agro-ecological zones were statistically significant. Incidence and Varroa load was not associated with altitude or hive management attributes. There was no relationship between varroasis with altitude and management attributes. This study provides baseline information on Varroa prevalence and highlights the necessity for apiary management training among beekeepers as a component of Varroa management.