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Thread: short abdomens

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Greenwich, NY, USA

    Default short abdomens

    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,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    St. Albans, Vermont

    Default Re: short abdomens

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdoc View Post
    Can anyone tell me what is causing this? A virus like DWV? A protein deficiency? Physical damage from mites?
    It surely is a symptom of varroa but the actual cause? All of the above?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA

    Default Re: short abdomens

    Here is a reference ....
    The most severe parasitism occurs on the older larvae and pupae, drone brood being preferred to worker brood. The degree of damage depends on the number of mites parasitizing each bee larva. One or two mites will cause a decrease in vitality of the emerging bee. Higher numbers of Varroa per cell result in malformations like shortened abdomens, misshapen wings, deformed legs or even in the death of the pupa.
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft


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