In October 2007 Mike Ukattah of the Beekeepers’ Association of Nigeria Eastern Region, Abia State, contacted BfD with the following concern:
I have been keeping bees for 10 years and have 30 colonies. My best colony moved into an old hive that I kept in the porch of my house, on 29 August 2004. Since then it became stronger every year and was my best colony. In April 2007 these bees provided me with 23 litres of honey. A few weeks ago when I was sweeping the floor around the hive, I noticed that the bees were dying in great numbers – this was most unusual.
29 September 2007: I discovered tiny reddish-brown mites creeping on some of the bees, mainly the drones. The mites were firmly attached to the thorax and abdomen of the bees and could be seen with the unaided eye. What was once a monster colony has become so weak that visitors to our farm question if the bees are still inside, considering the level of noise that usually emanated from the hive when the bees were strong. Yesterday I opened the hive to discover that there was no brood in the brood chamber, no mites and no drones. The combs were neatly arranged but with little incidence of wax moth. All efforts to find the queen proved fruitless, but the females returning from the field were heavily laden with nectar and pollen. Finally, I had to remove the super which was half built with dry combs and also three frames of dry combs from the brood area.
4 December 2007: I have just returned home after being away for three days and have discovered that my best colony is gone. I opened the hive, cleaned it up and burned all the debris. I guess the colony absconded because of the mites and heavy infestation of wax moth.
21 January 2008: the UK National Bee Unit confirmed the mites on Mike Ukattah’s bees are Varroa and confirmed the presence of Varroa spp in Nigeria.
First published in Bees for Development Journal #86