Prefers drone cells 10:1 in favour of worker.
Female mite is attracted to cell about 15 hours before capped. Must be a pheremone given off to indicate to the bees it’s time to cap the cell. Mite hides in remaining brood food in bottle of cell using a ‘snorkel’ peritime to breathe through.
After cell is hatched – about 60 hours later she climbs out when the brood food is finished and lays the first egg. This will be a male. Every 30 hours after she lays another egg which is female. Only the first egg is male and is laid near the top of the cell.
The male mite is mature after 5 days passing through a protonymph and deutonymph stage before becoming an adult.
Females take 7-8 days to develop. Females are laid further down cell nearer the feeding site. Immature stages are pale white and can sometimes be seen inside cells. They die when the cell is uncapped as do the males.
The mites in all stages feed on the bee’s haemolymph.
Once the male is mature he mates with his sisters unless another foundling mite mother also entered the cell at the same time as his mother.
This indbeeding does not cause genetic weakness and can help the varroa by breeding in resistance to chemical treatments.
In worker cells 1.7-2 new mites, in drone brood, 2-3 mites produced.
In breeding season the mites live for about 2-3 months. In winter they can live longer.,
They feed on adult bees during the phoretic stage.