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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've read that bees with shriveled or almost nonexistant wings are a sign of mites. I just noticed several bees crawling around the front of one of my hives. The bees were large(not young bees) and the wings were almost gone. I will have to tear the hive apart tomorrow after work and look.

What are the chances that the bees were just old bees with tattered wings and not necessarily a mite problem??

If it is mites then what am I looking for when I tear the hive apart??
 

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They could be old bees. Can you see any mites on them? You probably should open some capped drone brood when you look at the hive. Also look at the brood pattern. varroa cause spotty brood if theres enough of a infestation.

APK
 

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How long have you had the bees and when was the last time you treated for mites? Sometimes bees will die the first year from mites, but often it takes a year (or possibly even two) before the mites begin to gain the upper hand.

It seems to me if they were old bees with tattered wings they wouldn't have made it back to the hive. Most older field bees die outside the hive as I understand.

Scratch open some brood cells, particularlly drone brood cells and check. A nasty infestation will have lots of cells with mites.
 

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The first thing I look for upon entering a beeyard are 'crawlers'.I look hard for these bees crawling aimlessly and rapidly on the ground.A closer look often shows the shriveled wings of Deformed Wing Virus.Varroa is of course the vector of this and other viruses (as well as Chalkbrood).With a big outbreak the ground may have thousands of these DWV bees crawling.Its not a pretty sight.By watching the entrances you can pinpoint the hives that most are coming from and at least treat these immediately.The rest wont be far behind.Ive said all along we dont need varroa resistant bees so much as virus resistant bees.Click on the pics at the bottom of this page:
http://www.biavl.dk/english/varroa-english/outline.htm
 

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Maybe I should add that while varroa have been shown to carry chalkbrood around,it isnt the primary cause(in case someone is thnking about treating for mites based on the hive having chalkbrood!)Around here it is common in the spring but mostly goes away when the nights arent as cold.I believe this is because the brood nest is expanding rapidly,often beyond the bees ability to keep it warm at night.This is especially noticeable in packages and nucs with very prolific queens(Italians).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Right now a mite test is impractical. I bought a bunch of used equipment last year and the bottom boards are nailed to the bottom deep. I know I need to fix this but havent had the time yet.
 
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