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  1. #1
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    Nov 2009
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    Hopewell Junction, NY
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    Default DWV? Need Advice

    My hive may have Deformed Wing Virus. The initial evidence is that there are lots of bees (a hundred? more?) walking among the leaves and grass in front of the hive that are either dead, or soon will be, most of them with deformed wings.

    I'd appreciate advice!

    Some points and observations:

    • They're Canadian Buckfasts, or so I've been told, which may indicate a resistance to tracheal mites.
    • I'm in the Mid-Hudson Valley, so cold weather and shorter days are both key factors each day, with fewer minutes of daylight and likelihood of more cold each day.
    • My current configuration is a deep with two mediums, just consolidated down from three. Above the inner cover, I have a box of incomplete frames that have some honey or (mostly) many uncapped nectar cells. Atop that I have a feeder with 2:1 syrup. (I don’t actually expect them, at this point, to take it, it was already there, and we have a sunny week coming up, and I thought it makes more sense to keep it in place rather than to dump it.)
    • Earlier this afternoon I did a superficial inspection, and other than the sick bees that are on the ground, the hive looks robust, with bees spilling out of the deep, and with a very strong population throughout.
    • Until perhaps ten days or so ago, there was no evidence of any problem — in warmer weather, there were just a handful of walkers in front of the hive at any given time that had no observable health issues, except for the fact that they weren't flying and seemed to have low morale. As of last week, however, I first noticed some bees with deformed wings, but only a few. Today, when I looked, I saw many — as I said above, at least dozens, and perhaps hundreds.
    • In all the firsthand observations, and in all the photos I've taken, I've never seen a mite on a bee (for what it's worth).
    • Some of the bees that are sick look brownish/blackish — not at all the vibrant yellow-and-brown stripes adorning that the rest of the bees in the hive — and they seem small by comparison, as well.
    • I'm reluctant (!) to medicate artificially — if at all possible, I want to avoid that, but I'm not unwavering on that.


    I've started a mite count this morning, and plan on pulling the board and doing the count on Wednesday. I'll follow that with a powdered sugar treatment.

    I'm of two conflicting thoughts on the number of bees that are sick:

    1. The sick bees are a self-selecting population. That is, they've behaved in ways that make them noticeable, or have been kicked out of the hive, which might indicate a much deeper problem than may actually be.
    2. Sick bees that are noticeable may hint at a much larger problem among the other bees that are difficult to observe.


    I'm eager for suggestions, and appreciate them.


    Mig

  2. #2
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Well first the diagnoses, you have a serious varroa problem & your hive may be past the point of no return, without treatment.

    The typical varroa cycle goes like this. During summer the hive collects, and produces, an increasing population of mites. However, this goes mostly unnoticed because the queen is laying heavily and the large brood nest allows plenty of healthy bees to emerge, masking the problem.
    By Fall, there is a population of, typically, 2000 to 6000 mites. Here is where the problem starts. The queen now reduces her egg laying, and there is an increasing number of mites going onto a lower number of larvae. It can be that ALL larvae are infected. Some of these when they emerge will be obvious, if they have been infected by the mites with DWV. But most are not obvious, they look like normal bees. But they are not, because bees that had varroa mites in with them as a larva, have the gland that produces food for bee larve stunted, ie, they cannot feed brood.
    So the next stage is that bee larvae are not fed properly, the brood takes on a very patchy appearance, and now a fast downwards spiral happens where all brood has varroa, plus is undernourished. The hive dies.

    This scenario happens every winter to thousands of hives across the US.

    Couple of things, firstly, not seeing any varroa means nothing.
    And the second factor is that some bees are varroa tolerant and can do without treatment, but it sounds to me like your hive is not one of these.
    And the other thing is that the hive appears healthy until by the time it becomes obvious, it's too late.

    So for the treatment, firstly, your desire not to use chemicals is noble, but things are too far gone, you will have to use them.
    Your hive can be saved if you can do the following. You have to do two things, which are kill the varroa, and get some healthy bees into the hive to carry on brood raising, or if no brood raising in your winter, to have a healthy population that can survive the winter.

    So to do that, you'll need to put some fluvenate or amitraz type strips in your hive to kill the varroa. Mites are resistant to some of these in some areas so you'll have to check out locally what works.
    But also you need to somehow beg borrow or steal, two good frames of healthy brood to put in the hive, to provide healthy bees. Without this, the hive will still likely die even if you kill all the varroa.

    Well, there's the hard medicine, hope you can do it, and all the best!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    saint cloud, florida, USA
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    47

    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Thank you both for posting and replying. I have exactly the conditions you have both stated. Ugh!
    I've been focusing on SHB and had them under control, so I didn't think about mites. I looked but never saw any mites so I thought it wasn't a threat. Yup...first year beek.
    I'll be treating with Apistan today and hopefully get some brood from a friend. I'm in Florida so it's still plenty hot out. Maybe the girls will have a chance.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2002
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    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Sparks2142

    Ask your bee inspector, most mites around the world are resistant against Apistan and Chumaphos. You might have to go for a different treatment like formic acid, thymol or oxalic acid.

    To get rid of the DVW and all the sick bees, I would remove and destroy all brood combs and let the queen start again on empty and clean combs.. You can treat the brood free hive one time with OA vapor and your hive would be mite free, the new bees coming out the cells in healthy condition.

    This might work in a warm climate like yours; otherwise it is too late in the year to save the hive.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2009
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    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Where you're located in NY state, the odds are that it is too late in the season for the queen to start over on fresh comb, to build up a population to survive the winter.

    If the hive doesn't make it through the winter, I'd suggest starting over next spring with some resistant/hygenic bees, like many of us are using. Very low mite levels (I wish I could say no mites, but I'm convinced I have some, though have never done a mite count or treated in 5 years), and absolutely no chemical treatments. The bees initally cost about the same, but the money saved by not using chemicals, and the peace of mind is priceless.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    saint cloud, florida, USA
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    47

    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Does freezing the comb kill the virus? Obviously it'll kill the brood and varroa, but would the frame and comb be reusable after freezing?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    No freezing will not kill the viruses.

    Freezing is not needed anyway because without the bees, the varroas will quickly die, once the brood is dead. The frame can be re-used the following year, the bees will clean it up just keep it clear of wax moths during the winter.

    As to the viruses, DWV is a bee virus that was around long before varroa, but was very rare. Now it's spread by varroa and a lot of DWV in a hive tells you there is a varroa infestation. Without the varroa, DWV is not a serious problem it is not worth worrying about the DWV virus in a comb, just use the comb anyway.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2009
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    Millbury, MA, USA
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    If it were my hive I'd treat with oxalic acid. Vapor or dribble asap. then hit them again when there is no brood. Nothing to lose and the hive might survive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
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    947

    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Is this also referred to as K wing or where wings appear to be chewed off? Newbee here.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Brandon, MS USA
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    1,585

    Re: DWV? Need Advice

    This late in the year you would be hard pressed to succeed with any lite treatments... Follow Oldtimer's instructions to the "T", he is absolutely correct... The first chemical he mentioned comes in a product named Maverick and can be mixed in a 20:1 ratio with water and applied by stream sprayer directly through the entrance (attempt to completely soak the bottom board from back to front)... This is a contact killer and will quickly dry leaving a thin layer of powder on the bottom board... It works very well... But he is also correct about adding some brood... and I would do so Before you treat unless you are absolutely certain that it came from a mite-free colony...

    As to the mites developing a resistance to Coumafus... Not likely... This is one of the strongest chemicals that you can put in your hives... The only way that ANY pest can build a resistance to a treatment is if you use too little for too long... If it is applied correctly and does its job, there will be no pests left to become resistant...

    The treatment method for coumafus that works the best is to apply 2% CoRal Powder (Coumafus) via 1 heaping table spoon along each of the top, rear corners of the brood chamber and one table spoon across the top, front of that same deep. This will of course be cleaned up by the bees and thus it will find its way all over the frames, killing every mite within, and preventing their return usually for 2 seasons as it has residual properties in the wax for 6+ months... You have already removed your honey supers, so mark the exterior of the supers that will be on the hive during the treatment period so that you do not use them in the future for extracting, they can be used for wintering each year and rotated to other hives in the event that you need to treat another one.

    I would suggest looking into some queens with resistant genetics though... Canadian Buckfast should have a certain level of resistance, and even though NO bee is "mite-proof", I would think that your bees are most likely not resistant...

    Good Luck!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    TORONTO,ON. CANADA
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Oldtimer, I need your opinion please.
    Two months ago I had exactly the same problem, my bees very diying, big lumps of dead bees in front of all 5 hives, and some were acting like they were drunk. Wasn't sure if they were poisoned or mite infested.
    I had to treat them with Apivar, and every time I went to check them they were looking better.
    Last weekend I checked them and everything looked fine, five hives in 12 deeps full of bees and honey. The question to you is I had only 10 strips of Apivar, so I used 2/colony, and manufacture said 2 per box.
    Do you think I am safe to overwinter?Now they look good and happy.
    ==Northumberland County Beekeeper, Trent Hills, Ontario==

  12. #12
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    OK thanks for asking me, i just should say first anything rrussell6870 says is well worth listening to he's one of the most knowledgeable professional beekeepers on the forum.

    Boxes of honey don't count when determining how much Apivar to use, it's just the brood that matters, for deeps you should use a strip of Apivar to each 4 frames of brood. So I'm just guessing that at the time you would have had more than 8 frames of brood in the hives, so the 2 strips would have been stretching things a bit. Anyhow without testing your hives i can't say for sure, but it does sound like the Apivar has done the job.

    Also, with Apivar, the label says to leave the strips in the hive for 6 weeks, it's better to leave them in 10 weeks if there are any concerns. But at the end of 10 weeks they should be removed or they will be giving a lower dose which can let the tougher mites survive, and therefor breed towards resistance in the mite population.

    Anyhow you say things now appear fine, and there will have been time for a healthy generation of bees to be raised, so if you can't find any pms in the brood, or the other symptoms you mentioned, it's looking likely you are good to go!

    I would be inclined to monitor things during the winter just to be certain. If you see any DWV or other symptoms there is no reason not to treat even out of season. Just take care of that, and it sounds like they have plenty stores, you can look forward to 100% wintering success!

  13. #13
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    May 2010
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    Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
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    532

    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Oldtimer,
    this is our first year using Apivar we have used bayvarol up till now for treatments in Autumn and spring, The apivar has been in the hives at the reccommended dosage for nearly 6 weeks but I'm seeing some hives with DWV.
    Have you heard of any problems up North with anyone using Apivar?

    frazz

  14. #14
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Some resistance has been reported overseas ( from NZ ).

    However i used it in my own bees this year. After 6 weeks there was still some DWV, I complained and sent photos to the distributor, ( NZ Beeswax ), and he told me to leave it in 10 weeks.

    I've posted one of the pics I sent them after 6 weeks, as you can see there is still a problem.

    I didn't think leaving for 10 weeks was going to work, but after the 10 weeks the bees were just about clear, did some alchohol washes and some tests on 300 mls of bees produced no varroa.

    I think for some reason, apivar is slower than the other strips, especially bayvarol is pretty quick, but in my case anyway, apivar did eventually get there in the end.


    Last edited by Oldtimer; 11-06-2010 at 05:30 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,622

    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    What rrussell 6870 recommends may well work but I would suggest you read up on Coumaphous and CoRal before you decide if that is for you. By far the worst fall losses I have taken were after spring treatments with Check-Mite (coumaphous). We had only used the product for 2 consecutive years and it was almost totally ineffective after the 2nd year. The CoRal dusting, which is totally off label, grew out of the resistance problems of Check Mite. Rrussell correctly points out that this will linger in the combs. Personally I vowed after our Coumaphous fiasco to never again use hard chemicals in our hives. I know that I am in a minority among commercial beekeepers but we have thrived in recent years with Thymol, Oxalic and a timely requeening (and the resulting brood interruption). Do we still battle mites? yes. Has it hampered our ability to keep our numbers up and resulted in poor honey crops? No.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    MedHat Nashir gave a talk about Apivar at the Manitoba Beekeepers Convention. MedHat is Alberta's Provincial Apiarist.
    While talking about Apivar he metioned several things for success.
    1. Apivar is a contact application. The bees need to walk over it. Now if you are feeding or left mostly honey in the top box and placed the Apivar in the top box, you pretty much shoved $ down the drain. Once the bees moved to the lower box the Apivar became ineffective. It needs to be placed in the cluster area where brood are.
    2. Temps do play a bit of a role with it...too cold with bees clustering and it does not work
    3. If the bees are full in two boxes, 2 per box in required to maximize effacy. 1/2 the dose just builds up immunity or resistance to the drug that much faster where the mites are concerned. It's like treating an illness in humans. When the doctor gives drugs...complete the medication even if you are feeling better, otherwise reinfection will occur and the bacteria will have developed some resistance to the drug in question

    In his talk, he metioned several AB beekeepers coming back to him and saying this stuff did not work. After questioning the keepers, and finding out most used two strips and placed in the top box, and fed bees, he set these keepers straight on the proper use of the stuff and the next season went much better.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Thanks Oldtimer, they look really good now, I left Apivar for longer than six weeks, for nine to be precise, I was happy to see so many bees they look healthy no DWV, I agree with Jim about use of harsh chemicals I have sbb and ventilation boxes/ inner covers (honeyrun apiares style) and will implement drone frames and sugar dusting in the spring, also contacted a russian and carnica queen breeders here in Ontario for some queens in the spring.
    Honeyshack temperatures were O.K. two months ago, they didn't cluster back then, so I hope Apistan worked.
    Thanks for your answers/comments
    ==Northumberland County Beekeeper, Trent Hills, Ontario==

  18. #18
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Good to hear it worked out Marbis. Yes using a resistant bee, and also drone removal, is an excellent plan. I saw a presentation recently where a method was described for drone larvae removal. In spring, they placed one empty frame on the edge of the brood nest, in each box of the brood nest. The bees filled it with drone comb, and before the 24 day drone developement period was over the drone comb with larvae, was cut out and the frame put back in the hive. This was done 3 times total, and removed an overwhelming majority of varroa from the hive. The method was described by a commercial honey producer who uses it as standard procedure in his hives now.

    Jim and others I should say that the method rrussell 6870 described using Coumaphous is illegal in my country I have no experience with it. In any case Apivar uses Amitraz, not Coumaphous. The beauty of Amitraz is that once it leaves the strip and is distributed in the hive, it breaks down into a virtually harmless substance within a few days. Because of this it does not build up in wax or honey like the other products mentioned.

    Honeyshack I guess I took it forgranted that treatment strips, of any type, would be put among the brood. Yes, if they are plonked up in a honey super they are not going to be fully effective, guess i should have actually said that.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 11-06-2010 at 01:47 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Honeyshack I guess I took it forgranted that treatment strips, of any type, would be put among the brood. Yes, if they are plonked up in a honey super they are not going to be fully effective, guess i should have actually said that.
    I guess I should have been more clear. Not in an actual honey super but rather when we feed, the top super of the brood chamber becomes packed with syrup and the bees tend to move downward. This is where alot of the misconception of Apivar comes from. If i dump two strips in the top brood box, and do not think down the road a couple of weeks when the feed is almost in, the top box does not see the hustle and bustle the lower brood box does. As well, if a fall cool snap hits, the bees run for cover in the bottom box protecting the rest of the brood. By this time usually the top box is empty of brood and is just syrup. Making Apivar a costly expense with little return

    I think this is why i like formic better than apivar. Formic goes on the top box, using fumigation rather than contact. As well, since i run two brood chambers, I do not have to crack the two apart and fish out the bottom strips. Helps alot in the cool fall weather. That and formic was a three week treatment rather than 6 weeks. Only draw back was temps...

  20. #20
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    Jun 2010
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    TORONTO,ON. CANADA
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    Default Re: DWV? Need Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by honeyshack View Post
    That and formic was a three week treatment rather than 6 weeks. Only draw back was temps...
    Same reason here, but glad that Apivar is still considered to be soft treatment, compared to others.
    ==Northumberland County Beekeeper, Trent Hills, Ontario==

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