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  1. #1
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    Default Deformed wing virus

    I would like to stay as treatment free as possible but what do you guys do when confronted with deformed wing virus. I have a very lite case of it, I see one bee once and a while and I check the outside of the hive multiple times a day.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    DWV has no treatment for the virus, all you can do is try to control the varroa in the colony. Varroa affects colonies differently in the northern states than it does in the southern ones. Here in my area DWV in a colony will be severe one year and will almost disappear the next, even if the mite load is the same. Here it is not a death sentence for the colony as it is in other areas.

    I can only give advice based on my experience and that would be to do natural mite fall counts, and if they get over the numbers where serious damage is being done to the colony, do some sort of treatment that you are comfortable with. Sugar dustings remove mites on adult bees, but about 70% of the mites are in capped brood. This means you will need to do several dustings, and you will only remove about 30% of the mites that are on the adult bees. It is less disruptive to use Hopguard and remove 90% of the mites that are on the adult bees, and then repeat once a week for 2 more weeks. If you can wait until the bees are in a broodless period one treatment will do the job. You don't have to kill all the mites, just keep them at a level the bees can tolerate.

    Perhaps a northern beekeeper from your area will give you advice that is more specific.

    I am sorry, I just remembered this is the treatment free forum and I can't mention any sort of treatments so please disregard those portions of my answer.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    > but what do you guys do when confronted with deformed wing virus.

    I occasionally see a bee with deformed wings. I ignore them. I never see a lot of them. DWV was around long before Varroa. Varroa just spread it faster. In the end it comes back down to: the only way to breed bees that can survive without treatments is to stop treating.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    High loads of DWV have likely damaged your queen, and requeening would be aggressive intervention.
    A 2011 paper by Laurent Gauthier ( http://www.plosone.org/article/fetch...esentation=PDF ) finds that queens with high loads of DWV virus suffer from ovary degeneration. The DWV (and similar virii) form "crystalline arrays" in the ovaries completely disrupting them and causing loss of egg-laying ability. Gauthier makes the important observation that the enormous food demands of queens and their long lifetimes means they are "filters" that absorb enormous virus and pesticide loads -- far more likely to be affected than workers.

    Directed breeding -where colonies with quantified beneficial expressions- are *preserved* as mating stock is actually how breeding accomplishes improved genotypes. American Chestnuts had a "live-and-let-die" challenge against fungus, they are now effectively extinct.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    It's a pretty huge leap of illogic from
    " deformed wing virus. I have a very lite case of it"
    to
    "High loads of DWV have likely damaged your queen..."

    I don't treat my hives.
    Last year i saw a few bees with deformed wings, but saw no evidence of a mite problem, and did nothing.
    I got several splits from that hive last year, and it continues to thrive, still untreated, and with the original queen.

    If you want to stay as treatment free as possible, don't treat.
    If you want to practice IPM treat if you get a high mite load.

    But the only way to get bees that don't require treatment is not treating them.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    It both counterproductive and against the forum etiquette to get into a pissin' contest on treatment.
    Irrespective of personal decisions on treatment, however is **not** true "the **only** way to get bees that don't require treatment is not treating them."

    Counter-examples are manifest. I am professionally most familiar with plant breeding. Consider virus resistance in Tomato's (TMR) -- selective hybridization achieved "treatment free" virus resistance. This was not the result of home gardeners letting their vines wilt -- it was the result of directed selection, and cross-fertilization. No amount of home gardening was likely to achieve "fixing" the mutation into the population. Tomato have the huge advantage over bees in being naturally inbred-- once fixed a genotype can be sustained by simply collecting the seeds. Bees are obligate and promiscuous out-crossers.

    In other words -- if the goal is achieve treatment-free beekeeping that can be sustained then accepting the imperatives of directed breeding is part of the package. Directed breeding evaluates gene expressions and preserves the most favorable cases. Simply put, preserving queens and colonies to preserve their genes may involve intervention.

    Africanized adaptations to Varroa -- grooming that chews the legs on phoretic mites, and rapid swarming are likely to fix into a wild population. The grooming appears to involve a single gene, and rapid swarming has a population advantage that will dominate other genotypes. VSH -- a separate and highly selected set of genes-- are very unlikely to "win the lottery". VSH may involve 39 separate genes -- and the likelihood of that fragile combinations entering the wild population is vanishingly small in an obligate outcrossing species.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    I'm not aware of a way to determine whether bees survive w/o treatment other than to test by not treating and note the result.
    Whatever effort goes into selection, that *is* an essential step.

    I wasn't trying to to start controversy, I was voicing an opinion relevant to the OP's implied question of what he might or might not do to stay "as treatment free as possible: in light of his/her concern at having seen bees with deformed wings.

    If you don't want a "pissin' contest", don't start "pissin' ".

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    In real-world breeding selection, plants (my core experience) are challenged and trait expression quantified. The best performers are retained, and the step repeated against the next generation. Very seldom do you have the binary "die-not die" testing because it very difficult to jump from one state to the next. Instead you build up a strain selected for best performance against a single trait or behavior (e.g. VSH) then back cross that trait into other bloodlines until a suitable mix of characters is obtained. VSH is quantified *not* by die-not die status, but by a assay that kills a group of brood with liquid nitrogen and then quantifies the kill and clean rate and completeness.

    Species, especially obligate out-crossing ones, have very high resistance to "drift". These species are formed by very discrete founder events and then retain very conservative character. Bees are a special case: they have multiple fathers within a colony. There is fascinating research that shows the high variability this ensures is used to divide colony tasks-- various paternal bees are more or less sensitive to "juvenile hormone" and conduct different roles in the hive and swarm.
    The outcrossing (and its various benefits within colonies) is adaptive for honey-bees, they are essentially challenging Varroa to become less dangerous, for DWV to become less deadly. The honey-bees have opted for a high stability strategy, and force their nectar sources or their parasites to move towards accomodation with them. If flowers adapt to pollination by bees, their floral tubes and nectar concentration will converge on the bee selected optimum. Alternatively in insects, you see rapid speciation as a particular moth adapts to a highly exotic flower. Bees don't engage in that arms race, they force other organisms to move towards them. Will a strain of DWV mutate to become hypovirulent, very possibly, as DWV has extremely high generation turnover.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    VSH is quantified *not* by die-not die status, but by a assay that kills a group of brood with liquid nitrogen and then quantifies the kill and clean rate and completeness.

    .
    There are problems with this sort of indirect measure. The VSH trait alone is apparently not enough to make treatment unnecessary. So far as I know, no VSH breeder makes the claim that their bees will not require treatment. The only large-scale breeder that does make this claim, as far as I know, is BeeWeaver, and their results were achieved via the Bond method.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    many thanks for that link jwc. i am operating treatment free, and have not been experiencing frank varroasis, but have had higher than expected queen failure. the article provides me with a possible etiology for that.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
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    Rochester, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    For the people that have see DWV and have not treated what kind of mite loads were you dealing with? How many bees would you see with DWV outside of your hive? I do have a very Darwin approch but I do not like seeing an investment go to waste at the same time. I guess we shall wait and see if the bees can handle a western NY winter.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    You should download and read:
    Molecular and Biological Characterization of Deformed Wing Virus
    of Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) http://jvi.asm.org/content/80/10/499...ge=1&view=FitH

    The answer to your question is in the first paragraph:
    Symptomatic adult bees typically appear in the final stages of colony collapse, usually late summer-autumn of the second or third year of uncontrolled varroa mite infestation. Occasionally, a colony may have symptomatic bees in early spring and recover during the summer, only for symptoms to reappear at the end of the year.

    There is a lot of other vital information in that paper (and other recent, freely accessible ones -- perhaps I should prepare a full bibliography).

    DWV is endemic in colonies -- but it is the co-factor of mites (where DWV also reproduces) that cause severe, symptomatic lethal expression. Dead symptomatic, recently hatched bees in the late summer mean the virus load has reached the lethal level. The prescence of the virus in queen ovaries mean the infection becomes chronic during her's and the colonies decline. The infection of the queen should be presumed because you are symptomatic at the season when high virus load has had a chance to spread throughout the colony.

    From the same paragraph:
    DWV is normally a weak and insignificant virus that develops slowly, allowing the brood to develop through the pupal stage to
    adulthood (8, 13). It is this low virulence that has made DWV the main virus associated with varroa mite infestations, since more virulent viruses, such as chronic bee paralysis virus, ABPV, KBV, black queen cell virus (BQCV), sacbrood virus (SBV), and slow paralysis virus (SPV), kill the brood too fast for varroa mites to complete their development on the bee pupae and transmit the virus to new hosts (50, 64).

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    very interesting jwc.

    i had two colonies this year with observed dwv, but they would be atypical based on your previous post.

    the first was is a second year colony produced from a nuc last year that overwintered well, but had multiple workers with dwv emerging from the hive on a daily basis from late march to early april which is our pre-main flow build up here. it apperared to clear up on its own and i haven't observed any since. that colony ended up drawing out two additional medium supers of foundation and i was able to harvest 3 supers of honey from it. (i don't believe it swarmed, but i'm not 100% sure).

    the second colony from which i observed dwv was a caught swarm last year from unkown origin, and it also showed the dwv during pre-main flow build up and seemed to clear up on its own. in addition to seeing dwv i also witnessed this colony dragging out drone larvae during that time. this one did swarm and was less productive only drawing one super of comb and giving me one super to harvest. it remains weaker than average at this time.

    i will begin taking mite counts this year on all of my colonies, which i will likely do in early september. it will be interesting to see if the loads in these two colonies are higher than the rest.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    Square Peg -
    I see a similar pattern in early build-up-- a particular hive will have hundreds of DWV lethals in April -- only to apparently resolve. My abrupt Varroa peak comes in late August-September, just before drone-ejection day. DWV will reappear in some hives at this peak. Fall DWV hives are unlikely to survive the winter. Typically a particular hive is far more affected than any others in the yard.
    I have two trajectories for these spring hives --
    1. I break the colonies down and requeen them into nucs.
    2. I permit them to continue, but mark the queen (normally my queens are not marked).

    I find colonies that supersede generally resolve, and the DWV retreats to background levels. Colonies where the queen sustains are likely to re-exhibit the DWV peak in September. Previously, I have attributed the June brood -break (part of supersedure) with controlling mite levels, but I am also wondering if transmission from chronically infected queen to eggs (well established, see papers on "vertical transmission" http://jgv.sgmjournals.org/content/8...ge=1&view=FitH ) is the syndrome that brings DWV back into play in August in the queen resident hives versus hives with a fresh relatively un-affected queens.

    The Dave Cushman site has a fascinating account of traditional beekeepers breaking a leg on the queen to force supersedure. I haven't seen or heard of this practice elsewhere, but "freshening" a hive by requeening seems to be part of traditional beekeeping that is coming back into full force. The multi-thousand colony industrial scale keepers in my region requeen in April-May in total and completely, and requeen in August into splits.

    There is a Chinese paper on parasites on A. cernua in China with DNA-Mitochondria based gene trees of DWV. Interestingly, the DWV in China appears to North American in origin. (need to dig out that ref).

    The nucs don't seem to be any more or less likely to exhibit DWV than non-acute colonies.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    The trouble with this sort of absolutist advice is that it does not take into account those beekeepers who do not treat for mites, and whose colonies somehow manage to remain healthy.

    I just read an interesting piece by Les Crowder, the New Mexico top bar guru, in the July Bee Culture. He has not treated for mites since 1995, and they are not a problem for him. There are many others.

    A scientist in any other hard science field, upon encountering a single example that does not conform to his theory, would immediately be forced to modify or abandon that theory. Bee scientists are apparently a different class of scientist. I really can't understand how they can continue to ignore the existence of beekeepers who do not treat, and whose bees thrive... and still call themselves scientists.

    As a beginner, I was in a panic when, a week after I'd installed my first nuc, I found a couple bees with DWV. Many were the dire predictions I received, among them being that DWV so early in the season was a death warrant. Well, I won't be astonished if they do collapse at some point. They are locally adapted bees, but came from a beekeeper who treats, so there's no telling if they have any mite resistance. But they have really done well over the summer, and shown no more DWV. I've already made several splits from them, so if they do die, I will be able to handle it. The queen in that hive is incredible, still laying up brood wall to wall; she shows no sign of ovary problems.

    nicebrood.jpg

    I have to agree with Beregondo; the only way to get treatment free bees is to not treat.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    very good stuff jwc, many thanks again for your posts.

    looks like I've got some good winter reading ahead of me.

    i'm only a few years into this, but i was able to start queen rearing this year, and i have several nucs with queen daughters from one of by best colonies in the wings to use to replace or requeen any that get into trouble.

    since few if any treatment free beekeepers take mite counts, i don't have a good feel for what levels of infestation are tolerated and don't have any benchmarks as to when requeening makes sense.

    as a sideliner who is trying to show a profit from honey sales and has aspirations to sell nucs and queens it is important to me to try to do better than just survival.

    since the bees i am using come from stock that has been treatment free for 16 years i am looking to fine tune management practices that allow my apiary to be productive off treatments.

    so far so good, thanks again for contributing here.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    R. Haldrige, you miss my salient point.
    "The only way to get treatment free bees is to not treat" is a mantra, but is not biologically true. Darwinian selection doesn't operate on the backyard scale.

    Bees are adapting to Varroa at the population level. Directed breeding (and importation of co-evolved broodstock) is improving survival at the colony level.

    In an obligate out-crossing species with promiscuous mating and broad distribution, a small-time beekeeper is not affecting the population genetics. This is the principal of genetic swamping. You need **isolation or saturation** to change the population genotype with wild out-crossing.

    It appears the African adaptations to Varroa are entering the North American genotype. Locally these include mite-leg chewing and rapid colony swarming. The African adaptions are accompanied with unfavorable traits (ahem), so there are genuine sacrifices involved. I don't know if genetic markers have been collected for the various celebrated treatment-free bloodlines- perhaps M. Bush will comment (if these studies are occurring they are not published as of yet). I also have no idea if the concept of "local survivors" have been screened genetically. Local survivor / locally adapted races may or may not have any genuine existence -- as far as I can tell they are an inductive construct-- folks believe they should exist, so postulate them. Mr. Crowder is on record promoting both local bees and Russian queens, which of course is contradictory.

    I can detect we are talking past each other, so I am signing off the thread after this post.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    I also have no idea if the concept of "local survivors" have been screened genetically. Local survivor / locally adapted races may or may not have any genuine existence -- as far as I can tell they are an inductive construct-- folks believe they should exist, so postulate them. Mr. Crowder is on record promoting both local bees and Russian queens, which of course is contradictory.
    And yet, he doesn't treat and his bees don't die at a rate greater than treated bees. And I don't really see the contradiction you postulate, unless you are assuming that no locally adapted bees would ever thrive outside of a specific location, an assumption that is absurd, considering that European honey bees are not even native to this continent. Additionally, there's lots of evidence that local adaptation is not simply an "inductive construct." To believe that, one would have to believe that all bees fare equally well in all climatic conditions, which is a bit much for me to swallow. And in fact it is glaringly obvious that certain lines of bees do poorly in conditions that they are not adapted to: the mortality of southern packages in northern yards is one example.

    I've puzzled over the unwillingness of bee scientists to accept that there are in fact bees that survive without treatment, and I really can't understand it. One would think that explaining this phenomenon would be the number one priority, if they were really interested in bee survival. But I haven't been able to find any research directed at these survivors, apart from Seeley's study of Arnot Forest survivors. He attributed their survival to isolation, since they did not survive when installed on conventional foundation and housed in conventional apiaries. It struck me on reading the study that isolation was not the only conceivable explanation. Most of the other research has been directed at what may or may not be pieces of the puzzle, such as small cell bees. These latter studies have enormous methodological holes, or at least this is true of the ones I've seen. No one goes to Michael Bush's yards, or Les Crowder's yards, or to any of the other examples of survivor bees to be found. As far as I know, no one has promoted a serious scientific study of the bees being sold by BeeWeaver, and yet there are many folks who use these bees in treatment free operations.

    In my opinion, scientists who prefer to ignore inconvenient facts should probably turn in their scientist badges.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    I can detect we are talking past each other, so I am signing off the thread after this post.
    Don't blame you at all a very understandable decision. However, one favour?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    The Dave Cushman site has a fascinating account of traditional beekeepers breaking a leg on the queen to force supersedure.
    Have not heard of this technique but would be very keen to read about it but cannot find the link, could you supply the link?

    I've always believed natural supersedure is preferable to introducing queens, long as there are enough decent drones in the area.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Deformed wing virus

    > I don't know if genetic markers have been collected for the various celebrated treatment-free bloodlines- perhaps M. Bush will comment (if these studies are occurring they are not published as of yet).

    None of the scientists have shown any real interest in treatment free beekeepers. They apparently think we are just like they think the feral bees are, we don't exist.

    > I also have no idea if the concept of "local survivors" have been screened genetically. Local survivor / locally adapted races may or may not have any genuine existence -- as far as I can tell they are an inductive construct-- folks believe they should exist, so postulate them.

    There is much more evidence than people's imagination. They live for years in the same place and they are obvious by their size. Bees that have been in the wild a long time are very small compared to domestic "large cell" bees. Many of us have been collecting feral bees for decades while the scientist insist they don't exist.

    > Mr. Crowder is on record promoting both local bees and Russian queens, which of course is contradictory.

    How in the world do you conclude that this is contradictory? Some people have time to collect swarms and do trapouts. Some people don't. I always recommend local bees, but many people don't have the resources to get them. What do you recommend to them? You're saying you can't recommend different things for different circumstances without contradicting yourself?

    "Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth." --Blaise Pascal
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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