I am wondering if someone can help me with explaining a sign noted in a dead out. A customer brought in a frame from a recent dead out. There were a number of bees on it and she brought a coffee cup with some dead bees also. There were a half dozen varroa seen in ~100 bees (no wash, just ones we happened to see). There were a couple of bees with deformed wings. There were a bunch of bees head first in the cells and no honey on the frame. We have been having an extremely long and cold winter, so this seems like a high mite count along with some pretty cold temperatures leading to a dead out. No big worries on the explanation yet.

The thing that we are really wondering about is that there were a number of bees with very short abdomens. I remember seeing that touted as a sign of varroa in a few presentations, and saw it in several hives when I was doing inspections in Ohio when varroa was first spreading. I also saw deformed wings at that time and thought that it was a birth defect created by the varroa feasting on the developing brood. I now know better about DWV. What I don't have a solid answer for is the short abdomens. These might be 1/3 the size of the normal abdomen bees. Can anyone tell me what is causing this? A virus like DWV? A protein deficiency? Physical damage from mites?

Thanks for any input,