This map attempts to show how Varroa destructor moved around the world.

To see the spread of the mites from the middle of the 20th century, use the slider bar above this box. (Sorry I.E. users)

Click on the icons to see when varroa arrived, who first reported it and, in some cases, how it was introduced.

To see the status of varroa in each country, and varroa sp. natural ranges, use the layers button in the upper left corner and refer to the key.


The Varroa mite is the most devastating pest to the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera).

Varroa was first described in 1904 by Anthonie Cornelius Oudermans as a parasite of Apis cerana on the island of Java. Though great numbers of varroa could harm an A. cerana colony, it was, in general, a fairly benign pest. But when migratory Russian beekeepers brought A. mellifera to the Korean peninsula, causing extended periods of contact between the two bee species, a mutated mite was able to switch hosts. A. mellifera succumbed easily to this aggressive new parasite and the mite rapidly spread between colonies and through regions. It first moved into the USSR, but then spread into southern Asia where the use of A. mellifera was gaining popularity. Soon the global movement of bees and queens spread varroa nearly everywhere in the world.

Some more light was shed on the situation in 2000, when Anderson and Trueman published a landmark paper showing that varroa was actually two species: Varroa jacobsoni, the mite originally described by Oudermans, and Varroa destructor. They realized the former could not breed on A. mellifera while the latter could.

However, it is not that simple; each species of mite has over a dozen haplotypes, and only two haplotypes of V. destructor (Japan & Korea) and one haplotype of V. jacobsoni (Java) have made the switch to A. mellifera. The Java haplotype has only recently switched, but only on the island of New Guinea (not Java or elsewhere). The Korean haplotype is the most aggressive of the three and it is most widespread. The Japan haplotype is far less aggressive than the Korean haplotype.


Varroa Distribution

RED = Countries with varroa
YELLOW = Varroa status unknown
GREEN = Varroa free locations

Natural Ranges

PURPLE = Varroa jacobsoni (Apis cerana)
ORANGE = Varroa destructor (Korean)
BROWN = Varroa destructor (Japan)

Varroa Free Areas

Known Varroa Free Areas

Aland Islands (Finland)
Ouesant, France
Newfoundland, Canada
Maui, Kauai and Molokai (Hawaii)
Robben Island, South Africa
Parts of Northern Sweden
Northern Norway
Parts of northern Canada


Oudemans, A. C. (1904). Acarological notes XIII. Entomologische berichten uitgegeven door de Nederlandsche Entomologische Vereeniging 1: 169-174.

Gunther, C. E. M. (1951). A mite from a beehive on Singapore Island (Acarina: Laelapidae). Proc. Linnean Soc. New South Wales. 76: 155.

Breguetova, N. G. (1953). The mite fauna of the Far East. Parasitologuitcheskii Zbornik ZIN AN SSR 15: 302-338. (In Russian

Delfinado, M. D. (1963). Mites of the honey bee in Southeast-Asia. J of Apicult Res 2: 113-114.

Tzien-He, I. (1965). The biological peculiarities of the acarine mite Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans. Kounchong Zhishi 9: 40-41. (In Chinese).

Phadke, K. G., Bisht, D. S. & Sinha, R. B. P. (l966). Occurrence of the mite Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans in the brood cells of the honey bee, Apis indica F Indian J Entomol 28: 411-412.

Tian, Zai Soun. (1967). The disease or bees caused by the mite Varroa jacobsoni. Monop Kvahaiboi Karpo 4: 30-31. (In Korean)

Ehara, S. (1968). On two mites of economic importance in Japan (Arachnida: Acarina). Appl Entomol Zool 3:124-129

Stephen, W. A. (1968). A beekeeping problem in Vietnam and India. Bee World 49: 119-12

Laigo, F. M., & Morse, R. A. (1969). Control of the bee mites, Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans and Tropilaelaps clareae Delfinado and Baker with cholorobenzilate. Philippine Entomol 1: 144-148

Samsinak, K. & Haragsim, O. (1972). The mite Varroa jacobsoni imported into Europe. Vcelarstvi 25: 268-269

Velitchkov, V. & Natchev, P. (1973). Investigation about the Varroa jacobsoni disease - Oud. in Bulgaria. In: Proceedings of the XXIV the Apiculture Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pp 375-377.

Delfinado, M. D. & Baker, E. W. (1974). Varroidae, a new family of mites on honey bees Mesostigmata: Acarina. J Washin Acad Sci 64: 4-10

Orosi-Pal, Z. (1975). Varroa in America. Mehezet 23: 123. (In Hungarian)

Akratanakul, P. & Burgett, M. (1975). Varroa jacobsoni: A prospective pest of honey bees in many parts of the world. Bee World 56: 119-121

Montiel, J. C. & Piola, G. A. (1976). A new enemy of bees. Campo Moderno and Chacra. English translation: Varroasis, a honey bee disease. Apimondia Publication House, Bucharest: pp 36-38.

Koivulehto, K. (1976). Varroa jacobsoni, a new mite infesting honey bees in Europe Br Bee Journ 104:16-1

Grobov, O. F. (1976). Varroasis in bees: Varroasis, a honey bee disease. Apimondia Publication House, Bucharest. 46-70

Ruttner, F. (1977). Interim report on the cause of Varroa infection. Die Bienen 13: 353-354. (In German)

Marin, M. (1978). World spread of Varroa disease. Apiacta 13: 163-16

Alves, S. B., Flechtmann, C. H. & Rosa, A. E. (1975). Varroa jacobsoni Oudemans, 1904 (Acari: Mesostigmata, Varroidae) also in Brazil. Ecossistema 3: 78-79

Buza, L. (1978). Control of Varroa disease in Hungary. Apiacta 13: 176-177

Hicheri, L. K. (1978). Varroa jacobsoni in Africa. Apiacta 13: 178.

Santas, L. A. (1979). Problems of honey bee colonies in Greece. Apiacta 14: 127- 313

Crane, E. (1979). Fresh news on the Varroa mite. Bee World 608: 8

Popa, A. (1980). Agriculture in Lebanon. Ameri Bee Journ 120: 336-367.

Hoppe, H (1991) Promotion of beekeeping the province Al-Mahwite, Yemen GTZ: 8-10

Allsopp M., Govan V. & Davison S. (1997). Bee health report Varroa in South Africa. Bee World 78: 171-174

Sumpter, D. J. T., Martin S.J. (2004). The dynamics of virus epidemics in Varroa- infested honey bee colonies. J Anim Ecol 73: 52-63.

Paraiso, A., Cornelissen B., and Viniwanou, N. (2011) "Varroa destructor infestation of honey bee (Apis mellifera adansonii) colonies in Benin." Journal of Apicultural Research 50 4: 321-322.

Allsopp, M. (2007) "Analysis of Varroa destructor infestation of southern African honeybee populations." (2007).

Further Reading on haplotype distributions

Anderson DL (2004) Non reproduction of Varroa jacobsoni in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Apidologie 25: 412-421.

Anderson DL (2000) Variation in the parasitic parasitic bee mite Varroa jacobsoni Oud. Apidologie 31: 281-292

Fuchs, S., Long, LT., & Anderson, DL (2000) A scientific note on the genetic distinctness of Varroa mites on Apis mellifera L. and on Apis cerana Fabr. in North Vietnam

Zhou, T., Anderson, DL., Huan, ZY., Huang, Y. Huang, S., Yao, J., Ken, T., & Zhang, Q (2004) Identification of Varroa mites (Acari: Varroidae) infesting Apis cerana and Apis mellifera in China. Apidologie 35: 645-654.

Solignac, M., Cornuet, JM., Vautrin, D., Le Conte, Y., Anderson, DL., Evans, J., Cros-Arteil, S & Navajas, M (2005) The Invasive Korea and Japan types of Varroa destuctor , ectoparasitic mites of the Western honeybee (Apis mellfera), are two partly isolated clones. Proceeding of The Royal Society B. 272: 411-419.

Anderson DL (2008) Surveillance of parasites and diseases of honeybee in Papua New Guinea. CSIRO Report 30pp.

Timeslider (c) 2013 Dennis Wilhelm

Thanks to Dr. Denis Anderson for comments and information

Thanks to Christine HØynes for Scandanavian updates

Map created by William Blomstedt
wblomst (at)