Mighty Tricky: Varroa mites mimic bee scent to infiltrate hives!

 CREDIT: USDA.

CREDIT: USDA.

New research indicates that varroa mites are "infiltrating hives by smelling like bees." This reduces the chance that the parasites will be detected and eliminated. It's a fascinating and effective form of chemical camouflage:

Specifically, it’s the cuticular hydrocarbons, compounds released from hair-shaft glands, that emit scents that differentiate queens from fertile and infertile workers; it’s the smell that invokes acceptance or triggers aggression.