Varroa destructor | Varroa mite



Conservation status

Not Assessed

Native status


First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of High Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Transport Contaminant

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Parasites on animals

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


Relatively large mite, 1.1mm long x 1.5-1.6mm wide, generally attached to the first abdominal segment of the bee (Coffey, 2007). There are a variety of methods for measuring mite infestation in honeybee colonies.


Untreated honeybee colonies will collapse within two years (Coffey, 2007).




Reproduce exclusively in the brood cells of honey bees as the male mites cannot survive on adult bees (Donze et al., 1996). Females enter the brood cells of honey bees and emerge once the cells have been capped (Coffey, 2007), initially laying a single unfertilised egg that will produce the male that will fertilise all the subsequent females born (Coffey, 2007).

Pathway and vector description

As the original host was the Asian honeybee Apis cerana it was likely introduced to Ireland on imported bees. It was first detected in Europe in the 1970s with an estimated arrival date in Ireland of 1998 (Potts et al., 2010). It has since dispersed naturally throughout the country on infected bees (Coffey et al., 2011).

Mechanism of impact


Broad environment


Habitat description

Ectoparasite on the honeybee Apis mellifera.

Species group


Native region

Temperate Asia


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Widespread & Common. A 2006 study found that 72% of colonies in Ireland were infected with Varroa destructor (Coffey et al., 2011).

Native distribution

Native to Asia, where it is a parasite on the Asian honey bee (Apis cerana). Now introduced to all continents except Australia and Antarctica.

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2019

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How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Further information

A 2007 report by Dr. Mary Coffey details the biology of Varroa destructor, as well as monitoring and eradication methods.

Parasites of the Honeybee



Coffey, M. F., Barth, S., Hayes, K., & Breen, J. (2013). The health status of Irish honeybee colonies in 2006. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research, 39-51. Potts, S. G., Roberts, S. P., Dean, R., Marris, G., Brown, M. A., Jones, R., Neumann, P. & Settele, J. (2010). Declines of managed honey bees and beekeepers in Europe. Journal of Apicultural Research, 49(1), 15-22. Coffey, M. F. (2007). Parasites of the Honeybee. Report for Teagasc. Oak Park, Carlow

Global Invasive Species Database

CABI Datasheet