delta.m from Nectar, humidity, honey bees (Apis mellifera) and varroa in summer: a theoretical thermofluid analysis of the fate of water vapour from honey ripening and its implications on the control of Varroa destructor

2019-06-19T06:48:11Z (GMT) by Derek Mitchell
This theoretical thermofluid analysis investigates the relationships between honey production rate, nectar concentration and the parameters of entrance size, nest thermal conductance, brood nest humidity and the temperatures needed for nectar to honey conversion. It quantifies and shows that nest humidity is positively related to the amount, and water content of the nectar being desiccated into honey and negatively with respect to nest thermal conductance and entrance size. It is highly likely that honeybees, in temperate climates and in their natural home, with much smaller thermal conductance and entrance, can achieve higher humidities more easily and more frequently than in man-made hives. As a consequence, it is possible that Varroa destructor, a parasite implicated in the spread of pathogenic viruses and colony collapse, which loses fecundity at absolute humidities of 4.3 kPa (approx. 30 gm−3) and above, is impacted by the more frequent occurrence of higher humidities in these low conductance, small entrance nests. This study provides the theoretical basis for new avenues of research into the control of varroa, via the modification of beekeeping practices to help maintain higher hive humidities.