Prevalence of varroa mite infestations among honey bee colonies in Uganda
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Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are well adapted insects with great economic importance as pollinators and honey producers. However, their health is being threatened by various diseases and pests among which is the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor). In Uganda, prevalence of V. destructor infestations among honey bee colonies was not known though there were anecdotal reports of its presence. This study was conducted to establish the incidence and severity of V. destructor among domesticated honey bee colonies in Uganda. It was conducted in nine districts (Masaka, Luwero, Bushenyi, Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Mbale, Kapchorwa, Lira and Kitgum) representing four of the ten agroecological zones in the country that is Lake Victoria Crescent, Mid North, Western Highlands and Eastern. Between 100-300 worker bees were sampled from each hive and placed in 100 ml of 70% ethanol. A total of 81 honey bee colonies were randomly sampled and screened for Varroa, 61 of these tested positive. All the surveyed districts tested positive for Varroa with infection levels ranging from 50% to 100%. This is probably because of the high swarming rates, robbing among colonies and continuous movement of bee colonies to different parts of the country through bee colony marketing. As such, beekeepers need to be trained on good apiary hygiene practices so that colony marketing is limited to only those areas that are disease and pest free. Policy should also be geared towards the control of spread of this dangerous mite, including introduction of quarantine in the most affected regions.