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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Question Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    My one and only hive has had lots of bees that seem unable to fly lately. After orientation there can be 75-100 of them wandering around on the deck (where the hive is). Most are trying to fly, but can't. I don't find many dead bees at all.

    Their wings appear perfectly normal. (occasionally some will seem small to me, but still well formed.) I usually go out and pick up all that I can and put them back up on the deck so they can get in the hive before dark. They are happy for the lift. Yesterday I found one mite on one of the flightless girls. This is the first presence of mites that I have seen. They also have some SHBs.

    This is from a Russian nuc. that i started on June 19. They just began this non-flying thing 3 weeks ago. They are not really booming. they are still in on deep super with no real honey stores.

    I am going to do a full inspection today. Any ideas on what this could be and what I should be looking for?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,083

    Default Re: Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    Deformed wing virus perhaps. Parasitic mite syndrome maybe. Whatever it is, even though I understand theurge to do so, returning the bees that are on the ground and can't get home on their own may not be doing the rest of the bees in your colony a favor. They, the bees on the ground, may be carrying a virus. I'm not sure. But to let bees do what they do and let nature take it's course is perhaps what you should do. As far as the bees on the ground are concerned.

    You say that about three weeks ago the bees started this nonflying behavior and they aren't booming and they don't have much honey stored, right? I suspect, being in NC as you are, that your bees are bearding because of the heat and that there is no nectar for them to forage for, ie, a dearth period.

    I don't have experience in NC in the summer, but from what I have read on beesource and other places, that is my diagnosis.

    Look to see if your colony is healthy. A good brood pattern, w/out disease showing. Honey and pollen stores. Not over run by SHB or wax moth.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    Thanks, Mark.

    I will refrain from bringing them back. At first I thought that maybe the younger bees (washboarding) were getting toppled out of the upper entrance when orientation flights took off...

    We have been in dearth here. (Although the kudzu started blooming this week and there sure is plenty of that around!) They haven't been bearding. I have them in late afternoon shade and have a ventilated top and screened bottom board. Heck, maybe there just aren't even enough of them to make a goatee.

    Do the viruses just run their course and the hive either makes it or not??

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,696

    Default Re: Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    How do you know the bees seem happy for the lift? sorry had to ask

    These bees could be carrying disease and should be left on the ground. Weak bees weaken the hive. Let the hive get healthy. The disease will just expand in the hive to the point of taking it down completely

    You have not mentioned your mite counts. Monitor monitor monitor. It is the basis of knowing what is going on in your hive! If you have the live and let die mentality then monitoring is a mute point. However if your goal is to get honey to pay for the up keep of you hive, and to see your bees grow, you need to know what is going on in the hive.

    Gone are the days of our father's and grandfather's beekeeping where we place a hive and get honey and worry of nothing else.

    A simple knowledge of what varroa mites do is good for any beekeeper to understand the detriment to the hive. As well a simple understanding of the hierachy of a hive will then increase the knowlege of how the mites take down the hive peice by piece
    Bees start out as cleaners, then nurse bees, securty, and then foragers. Basically, there might be other jobs but those are the basic ones. As a bee moves up to a new job, a healthy bee takes it's place. A continous cycle of movement in hive.
    Varroa start with the brood box bees, attaching themselves puncturing the cuticle of the bee. This allows for the diseases to vector into the bee, weakening the bee and shortening it's life span. If the bee who becomes a forager dies too soon, there is nothing to take the place, so a secutity or nurse bee moves up to soon, this in itself will cause the bee to die earlier than scheduled....and so on. This change in cycle will cause a ripple effect in the hive. When the work force is reduced, less food comes in, less bees to clean, less eggs get laid

    Now add in the damage the varroa does to the larva.
    The Varroa now enter the cells just before capping, they rest in the royal jelly until the larva has consumed it all. Then the varroa feeds off the larva, puncturing holes in the bee. The varroa lays another varroa male, the male sheds some "skin" in the cell, both mites, use the cell as a bathroom. The male and female mate, producing more females. All varroa in the cell, feed of the bee, defacate in the cell, and shed their skins. Now you have a weak bee who emerges who is to clean the cells, and follow the path of all the rest of the bees.
    Only, that bee will not make it to the end of it's natural life. It will be unable to forage for food, due to the weakened state.

    Mites double in % every three weeks. So this problem is not in just one bee cell. At 4% you will see brood damage. At the spring time (say May) of year 1% mite infestation will lead to a loss in honey production and a loss in winter survival if the mites go unchecked.

    So if you get the picture i just painted, it is easy to see how mites can so quickly take down a hive in a two fold manner. One is on the bees when they are in the hive working and one is on the brood while developing. AT the same time. These mites are aptly named the Varroa Destructor.

    I forgot to mention the diseases they vector in. Once in the hive, really hard to get rid of and cleaned up.It is costly, and will set the hive back for quite a while.

    You have just recieved mite damage on brood and bees 101....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,083

    Default Re: Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    Does kudzu produce nectar? Or pollen?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
    Posts
    1,585

    Re: Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    I suggest to look for enough brood and bees to get keep the hive going long enough to treat it. If you have already found a mite on a bee on the ground and you have bees that can't fly...you have a Varrora mite infestation and you need to treat that NOW. Keep in mind that you may need to treat again in two weeks as all of the infected brood has hatched. We use CoRal Powder 2%. A table spoon on the top of the frames in each back corner and a third table spoon sprinkled across the middle of the front (again on top of the frames so that it falls down inside the hive) should do the trick for the next few years.

    You also mentioned seeing beetles. As you only have one hive, a good beelte trap that is well attended should be fine...Rossman's "Beetle Barn" seams to be winning the most praises. We are a large commercial operation, so we use chemical control both in and outside of the hives (too expensive for smaller operations, so traps are ok for now). NOTE: The Powdered CoRal 2% WILL KILL the beetles as well...but is only effective on them while the powder is piled on the bottom board because they actually have to step in it.

    When you inspect your hive, just check for the basics of course, queen, brood, bees, honey, pollen, pattern, moths, webbing in the cells, foul brood, and (because of the beetles) I would suggest that you get some sort of baited trap ready BEFORE you open your hive! This is especially important in southern regions... The bees put up a really good defense against the beetles by chasing them and gluing up areas where the beetles can invade and lay their eggs... When you open that hive in the high heat, the bees will undoubtedly stick their heads in the cells and begin to suck up as much as they can carry....leaving the beetles free to find a good hiding and laying place in the rear of the hive or even in the comb. The powdered CoRal 2% will take care of the beetles that get past the bees during your inspection, but you should treat the hive after you have inspected it, but before you close it. We have received 10s of thousand of requests for queens and packages in the last month from beekeepers that have had terrible losses due to the beetles. So don't take a chance with them. The varrora are not a light threat either...you have them now...you will not have bees if you do not treat them now.

    Also, you should invest in a feeder of some sort (there are many on the market), this will get you through those hard times. I think you have Golden Rod in your area which should be blooming soon too, once the hive is treated and starts to build up, you may want to find a shallow of drawn wax so that they can put up some winter stores...Golden Rod will make PLENTY.

    Good luck and feel free to ask if you need any advice or help!

    Robert Russell
    Russell Apiaries

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Flightless bees: Parasitic Mite Syndrome?? Poison?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Does kudzu produce nectar? Or pollen?
    I have read that it produces nectar. It is a short 7-10 day shot according to one of the past threads and supposedly makes "blue honey"?

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