Deformed Wing Virus question
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  1. #1
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    Default Deformed Wing Virus question

    I'm seeing a fair number of bees with deformed/missing wings on the grass outside the hive. Any thoughts on what constitutes a normal amount for a healthy hive?

    I'm aware of the link to Varroa, and so I've done a powered sugar test--no mites. Suspicious of this result, today I pulled apart about 40 capped drone brood cells and only found a single mite.

    Thanks to all for their thoughts and advice.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    >I'm seeing a fair number of bees...

    Well, of course this description isn't very objective, but I would say a "fair number" is too many. "A few" would be normal.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Right. Any advice about what to do?

  5. #4
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    Jun 2014
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    Warren County, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    prob need to treat for mites.
    do a correct mite check. that is alcohol shake of NURSE bees from brood nest.
    then treat for mites.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Quote Originally Posted by aphotographofme View Post
    I'm seeing a fair number of bees with deformed/missing wings on the grass outside the hive. Any thoughts on what constitutes a normal amount for a healthy hive?
    Zero.


    First off, to fully explain. Deformed wing virus (DWV) is a naturally occuring virus of honeybees. They have probably had it for thousands of years, but it used to be very rare and kept under control by the bees. Then, varroa mites jumped species from a different type of bee, and began infecting our bees. While using their proboscus to inject and feed on honeybees, varroa mites began spreading the DWV from bee to bee, to such an extent that hives with a lot of varroa mites can actually die from the virus.

    The solution is to kill the varroa mites. The hive then will over time, purge itself of the virus.

    So, how many bees can you see with DWV and it is still at a safe level? There is no one answer. Where i am, if a hive has just one bee that can be seen with DWV, it is a sign of a large varroa mite infestation, and the hive will gradually worsen and die, unless a treatment is done to kill the varroa mites.


    In other areas, climates, and different bee strains and possibly different varroa mite strains and virus variants, hives with visible DWV infected bees can sometimes throw the infection off without beekeeper help.

    So for you, find out what is the experience is of other beekeepers near and around you.

    But most likely, if the hive has actually got to the stage where you are seeing a lot of "crawlers", it means the bees are not coping with both the mites and the viruses spread by the mites, and will die if the mites are not killed by the beekeper. If you look inside the hive and also notice dead brood, it may already be past the point of no return, and too late for the hive even if mites are removed.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Thanks--I appreciate you taking the time to formulate such a comprehensive reply.

  8. #7
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    Jun 2014
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    Warren County, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    if you shared your location, history of the colony, and current hive configuration then suggestions of what to do next can more accurately be offered

  9. #8
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    May 2019
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    I'm in SLC UT. It's a new hive created from a nuc I picked up from a backyard beekeeper, which may be part of the issue here. Single deep currently.

  10. #9
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    Warren County, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    you temperature look good to apply MAQS or formic tomorrow night or saturday. this will get phoretic mites as well as the ones under cappings. you dont want to use this product when daytime are over 85* (80* is better IMO) for the first 3 days. this should give your bees one of the quickest chances to recover with your mite load likely being quite high. if you cant get a formic product in before temps become too hot, look to apivar. this will take several weeks to clear mites with an 8 week treatment period followed by a 2 week delay until you can put honey supers on. not sure what flow you are expecting but at this point you should be focused on colony survival. as oldtimer stated it may be too late but good luck!

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    I'm still confused about why I got zero mites on the sugar roll (yes bad test sure) and only a single mite while inspecting drone brood (more reliable, no?), but my formic treatment arrives tomorrow via UPS and I'll be applying it after doing an alcohol wash test.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    great! make sure entrance is full width and if the cluster is closer to 5 frames of bees than it is 10 i would use one pad twice method over the 2 pad application. check on them after 7 days to make sure queen is back to laying. some report queen loss issues, but i have not experienced this when formic is used per instructions. you will notice some dead brood at the entrance. hopefully the colony rebounds well fo
    sugar roll a sample of bees and then take those same bees for an alcohol wash. compare.
    as far as mites in drone brood, you probably dont have all that much drone brood being a new colony. and even so 40 drone cells is not a large sample. 1 mite in 40 uncapped cells would be a high mite load. even then you are left to ponder if you found the one mite in the whole colony or 39 cells that happened to not contain a mite.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Great--thanks for your help. I'll let you know how it turns out.

    I appreciate everyone's willingness to help a novice out. The colony has been growing, but slowly, so I'm optimistic that this will turn things around and it will survive.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Hi all--

    So I'm showing 1% infestation (3 mites/300 ml sample) using alcohol wash. I was very sure to do the test carefully. Should I still treat?

    I should note that besides the DWV bees I'm seeing, the hive looks great (from my limited experience). I'm about to add a second brood box despite a very cold and wet May (started from a NUC about the month ago), and the queen is laying a great brood pattern.
    Last edited by aphotographofme; 06-08-2019 at 08:14 PM.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    I lost several hives last fall after seeing wrinkled wings, and at first I found few mites. But soon I saw LOTs of mites and I was too late treating. I say now if you see the wings treat for mites even if you don't find many yet. I am also new to bees, and I suspect my technique or skill at seeing mites is poor.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Quote Originally Posted by aphotographofme View Post
    So I'm showing 1% infestation (3 mites/300 ml sample) using alcohol wash. I was very sure to do the test carefully. Should I still treat?
    In early fall, 1% mite infestation (which you have), is my treatment threshold. Because in fall with declining bee population, 3 mites a sample can quickly become 15 mites per sample.

    In spring, with an increasing bee population, a 1% infestation will not threaten the hive survival as quickly. However it will affect general health and honey crop, plus could be pretty devastating by summers end.

    When assessing such a hive, i do not go just on mite counts but on general health of the hive. Bees with deformed wings indicate a high DWV level throughout the hive. Just a very few infected bees develop deformed wings, most do not, but have shortened lives and are less productive. A mite level in such a hive is more dangerous than the same mite level in a hive showing no symptoms of virus.

    The safe option is treat, and the bees will appreciate it. But, over to you.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Apho;

    When bees are heavy into brood rearing a very low percentage of mites will be on the adult bees. Probably 90% under cappings so the alcohol wash and mite fall are not indicative of total mite #s. The first few rounds of brood are almost exclusively worker so the first rounds of drones culled may not be as indicative of mite loads as it would later in the season. It would not be a big economic shock to cull a few random worker cells to see if that showed any difference.

    I use the drone inspection method too and it is quite a good indicator a bit later in the season. If I see no cells being uncapped and a solid pattern I dont get concerned this time of year, but I am quite isolated from other bees.
    Frank

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Apho;

    When bees are heavy into brood rearing a very low percentage of mites will be on the adult bees. Probably 90% under cappings so the alcohol wash and mite fall are not indicative of total mite #s. The first few rounds of brood are almost exclusively worker so the first rounds of drones culled may not be as indicative of mite loads as it would later in the season. It would not be a big economic shock to cull a few random worker cells to see if that showed any difference.

    I use the drone inspection method too and it is quite a good indicator a bit later in the season. If I see no cells being uncapped and a solid pattern I dont get concerned this time of year, but I am quite isolated from other bees.
    Crofter, thanks. This explains what I am seeing today. I have an active queen laying a lot of eggs and there are large areas of capped brood. I was concerned the hive was building very slowly but always had large areas of brood. They should have exploded by now. Today I saw a single wrinkled wing bee dead on the landing. Looking inside I saw another deformed drone, small with deformed wings, and a number of bees that look 'odd'. They are puny, small and very pale colored in a hive that is dark colored. Their wings look fine but the bees don't. They remind me of a hive that died last year. Many of the bees appeared immature.

    But, no mites that I can find. I opened every drone cell I could find and not one mite on any of them. However, there were nearly mature drones that appeared sickly.

    I plan an alcohol wash tomorrow. And a trip to Farm and Fleet to emergency-buy formic acid!

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Smaller,lighter colored bees ,called callow bees,are newly emerged.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/ADEQZbLmK1tpk6ov9

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Grimshaw View Post
    Smaller,lighter colored bees ,called callow bees,are newly emerged.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/ADEQZbLmK1tpk6ov9
    Ah. That may be it. Hope so. Thanks! That is indeed what they look like. But I did see two with wrinkled wings and some puny drones.

    I did an alcohol wash on that hive and another. Not one mite! I was shocked. I poured those bees back and re-shook them several times and even checked the strainer carefully in full sunlight to make sure they were not there. Now I am drying the bees on a paper towel and will look them over with a magnifying glass. These bees were a May swarm that got split into 4 hives in July, so I wasn't expecting large numbers of mites, but I was expecting at least a few.

    In any event I segregated the queen into a nuc with hardly any brood, just the little bit that was on the frame she was riding when I found her. I left her in the original hive position with some stores and empty frames as with a fly-back split. If they turn out to be healthy after a few weeks I'll recombine them. It's getting very late to make new queens here, though there are lots of drones still in the hives.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Deformed Wing Virus question

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    ...

    I did an alcohol wash on that hive and another. Not one mite! I was shocked. ....
    Nothing to be shocked about.

    Per my readings, DWV virus is a normal event regardless of the mites.
    It always exists and is always few infected bees are there.
    I find 1-2 DWV bees in my "TF" hives - so what?
    I do nothing and not worried.

    Mites <> DWV.

    It just the mites increase the re-infection and transmission by a factor of X (same as mosquitoes and ticks do for humans).
    Then the # of DWV infected bees increases by X factor.
    For example, then you may see tens and hundreds of DWV infected bees crawling in front of the hives - that's the so-called "bomb" and best be terminated/closed in at that point.

    I am sure DWV bee cases have been around for long time and no one paid attention.
    DWV virus is not a brand new, just now introduced virus and been around for eons (just like flu virus and cold virus).
    Sure, it also mutates maybe annually.
    All the normal stuff.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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