Deformed Wing Virus

We love when we get very timely email questions about bees! Here is one that I started to answer via email, but then realized that many of you will benefit from the answer and created this blog post. Thanks, Diane, for the question and the photo!

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Diane’s Question

We have this strange thing going on with our bees  In this picture, the bee right in the center has no wings.  There are many bees in the hive that look like this.  We are unsure if we have a genetic problem with our queen.  This hive was split off from our other hive this spring and we introduced the new queen purchased from you.  Wondering if you’ve seen this before and what it might be. Thanks for your help.

Answer

The wingless bees you are seeing have been affected by “Deformed Wing Virus.” The bee inspector said that this is the most reported honeybee disease in Utah this year.

Deformed wing virus is a virus that is transmitted by varroa mites. Mites poke a hole in the bees to drink bee blood. They move from bee to bee, drinking blood and transmitting the virus. Mites feed on both adult bees and brood. Brood with deformed wing virus emerge from the cell with deformed wings.

There is no treatment for deformed wing virus. However, decreasing the mite load in the hive will eliminate the virus.

There are many ways to treat for mites. We are not licensed pesticide applicators and cannot legally recommend pesticide treatments. However, we’ve included some information on varroa mites here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. These posts are based on Honeybee Diseases and Pests  from the University of Minnesota Extension Bee Lab, with our own ideas added too.

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