Varroa destructor: un acerrimo nemico delle api

Varroa destructor. L’hai giá sentita? Ai vari webinar di apicoltura che ho seguito, la sentivo nominare spesso. Dal nome poco simpatico e dal tono con cui se ne parlava, avevo capito che non prometteva nulla di buono. Ma che cos’é di preciso? É un acaro, tra le minacce principali delle nostre amiche api. Ma cosa fa? Da dove salta fuori? C’é sempre stato? Si puó far qualcosa per placare i suoi effetti? Ti starai chiedendo questo e molto altro. Vediamo un po’ piú da vicino l’acaro varroa!

L’acaro Varroa esiste da sempre?

La risposta é…no, per lo meno non nelle nostre zone! A dire il vero viene da piuttosto lontano, piú precisamente dalle regioni asiatiche, in particolare dall’Indonesia. Come spiegato nel manuale di Pistoia, lí era presente da cosí tanto tempo che si era creato una sorta di equilibrio tra il parassita e i suoi ospiti. Insomma, non era niente di piacevole, ma nemmeno nulla di troppo grave. É apparso poi nel continente europeo nella seconda metá del secolo scorso (in Italia negli anni ’80). Ma come ha fatto a raggiungerci mannaggia??? Molto probabilmente a causa di scambi commerciali di arnie e utensili apistici senza le dovute precauzioni e le attestazioni sanitarie richieste. Insomma, qualcuno ha fatto un po’ come gli pareva, alla carlona, e la varroa é stata importata in Europa. Complimenti! Potresti magari pensare „vabe se non era niente di grave lá, perché dovrebbe esserlo qua? Sempre api sono!“. E invece no, perché le api dell’arcipelago indonesiano conoscevano questo parassita da circa 70 milioni di anni, quindi hanno avuto abbastanza tempo per creare quel rapporto di convivenza pacifica. Tuttavia, tutte le api al di fuori di quella area assolutamente no, portando cosí ad effetti devastanti.

Ma spiegami un attimo: cos’é che fa?

É un acaro minusculo, grande tipo un millimetro, ma che puó creare grandi danni! Infesta sia covata, che api adulte. Dai fuchi alle operaie. Diciamo pure che non guarda in faccia nessuno. Non per niente l’hanno chiamata Varroa destructor.  Alla vista é come un microscopico polipo di color marrone. Con i suoi ‘tentacolini’ si aggrappa all’ape e si nutre della sua emolinfa. Lo spiega molto bene il libricino di Nazzi (ve lo consiglio con tutto il cuore, bellissimo!). Da bravo parassita, ovviamente non solo si nutre alle spalle del suo ospite, ma si riproduce. Come?  Entra nelle cellette delle larve e dopo un paio di giorni depone le uova (una al giorno piú o meno!). Moltiplicandosi cosí a dismisura.

E quali sono gli effetti della varroa sulle api?

La varroa si ciba del sangue delle api, forando senza problemi le loro membrane e causandone cosí l’indebolimento e ferite. Ci credi che questo é il meno? Sí, perché c’é anche un effetto indiretto purtroppo. Nel momento in cui si nutre, inietta  nel suo ospite dei virus molto pericolosi come il virus delle ali deformi o DWV. Come specifica Nazzi, le api sono molto forti, ma la varroa mangia attraverso una ferita sempre aperta. Pertanto, il sistema immunitario delle api é concentrato su quest’ultima e nel frattempo il virus iniettato dalla varroa agisce indisturbato, riproducendosi a sua volta e portando gradualmente anche alla morte del super organismo.

C’é qualche modo per difendersi dalla varroa?

Lottando contro la Varroa
Nonno Heinz che si occupa del trattamento annuale anti-Varroa

Tieni conto che, 99 su 100, quasiasi alverare di qualsiasi apicoltore oggigiorno ha la varroa. Si tratta pertanto di cercare di conviverci, tenerla sotto controllo e applicare dei trattamenti per limitarne gli effetti negativi. Ti ricordi quando avevamo parlato della struttura di un’arnia? Avevamo nominato anche il fondo anti-varroa! Quando si fanno le ispezioni, si estrae il vassoio e si vede se c’é della varroa e soprattutto quanta ce n’é. Da lí si capisce com’é messo l’alveare. Poi si ripulisce il vassoio, lo si ripone al suo posto e all’ispezione successiva, si confronta se la situazione é migliorata o peggiorata. Tra i trattamenti che si possono effettuare, quello che nonno Heinz utilizza da sempre é l’acido formico, di solito a fine estate-inizio autunno. Si tratta di un acido organico (da maneggiare con cura, come mi ha specificato piú volte nonno Heinz). Ad un telaino vuoto, senza favo (uno per ogni arnia) si applica una specie di boccettino con dell’acido formico (quantitá? Non ci é ancora chiara onestamente, nonno Heinz va a occhio come chi é abituato a fare certe cose da una vita). Vicino a questo boccettino, c’é un cartoncino la cui estremitá é inzuppata in questo acido che un po’ per lo stesso procedimento di certi profumatori d’ambiente, si propaga in tutta l’arnia. Ha il vantaggio che passa anche attraverso gli opercoli penetrando nelle cellette quindi, dove abbiamo detto che l’acaro si annida e si riproduce. Non nuoce alle api, ma colpisce l’acaro, riducendone il numero.


Ormai lo sai, a me piace condividere con te le cose che sto imparando sul mondo delle api. Una sorta di merenda pane, burro e consapevolezza. Quello che leggerai qui, certo, non é che ti stravolge la vita (ci mancherebbe!). Tuttavia, posso farti vedere le cose da una prospettiva diversa, no? Per esempio, mi ha fatto molto riflettere il fatto che le malattie piú gravi che stanno colpendo le api, derivano dal tocco poco delicato dell’uomo. Quello „zampino“ che se non ci fosse stato, forse era meglio. Quanto ci sono rimasta male!? L’uomo! Noi! Proprio gli ultimi arrivati che nonostante ció, nonostante tutte le cose che sappiamo, non ci facciamo poi tanti scrupoli a non considerare l’equilibrio dell’ecosistema. A darlo per scontato. E poi via a correre e spaccarsi la testa per trovare un rimedio. Speriamo che anche questo articolo ti abbia dato un buono spunto di riflessione. Per qualsiasi domanda o curiositá, siamo qui!

Un abbraccio,

i Gäblini

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