Honeyflow.com | FAQ's | Community |

Baby bee unable to fly


I caught this girl up on the roof about dusk. I’m guessing just finished doing an orientation flight. Or trying to. I don’t know if the wing is deformed or if she damaged it on the flight. But she was doing her damnedest to take off and couldn’t. She held it out to the side more and it looked like it was ripped or missing a piece. Does this look like disease or damage?


Hard to tell. I would go with DWV, but I would want to see more like that before I got all drastic and treated them.


It’s not DWV. It’s not classic “K” wing, but it is a bit like “K” wing. The wings should be connected so they appear as one wing (though they are two) on each side. The one on the left is separated. Classic “K” wing the smaller wing will cross to the front of the larger one and usually this is on both sides.


Hmm well doing some reading on K-wing leads me to tracheal mites or nosema as a possible cause. I haven’t seen any evidence ie dysentery in the bees or on the hive.

Should I do an inspection and see if this problem is more wide spread inside the hive? On my last inspection I didn’t notice anything wrong but then I wasn’t looking specifically for something like this.

Is it common for small numbers of bees to develop with issues like this or is any abnormality going to be cause for concern?


OK, time for a deep breath. Notice @Michael_Bush said:

It may be tracheal mites (more commonly the cause of K wing than nosema, if the colony is otherwise OK), or it may be a simple genetic mistake. When a queen makes thousands of babies every day, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the occasional birth defect, would it?

I would wait until your next planned inspection, then take lots of photos and go over them in detail later. It is much easier to spot problems in photos than in jittery bees running all over the frames. If the deformity is prevalent in the hive, you will probably see it on nurse bees. Then you have a couple of options. Treat empirically, or ask your local bee inspector for advice. If you have a good inspector, they can often tell you how to get a sample of bees analyzed, so that you know exactly what is going on.


I know it may seem like I am freaking out but really I’m not, I promise. Just trying to stay on top of things, be observant and try to learn as much as I can before any problems really become an issue. I won’t know what normal is until I watch them for long enough. As they say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert.

I have noticed a fairly slight weight drop over the last three days (0.13#) as well. They are still bringing in quite a bit of pollen so I don’t think it is a dearth and may be completely unrelated to this wing issue but I will check them again Friday morning and try to get some pics to analyze.


I know you are not, I was very impressed with your observational powers. I think 99% of beekeepers would have missed that. I think it is highly unlikely that this will progress fast, even if it is tracheal mites.

I like your plan, it sounds good.


Hey looks like the wing hooks are not working. http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=192


It does NOT look like classic “K” wing. The back wing (the small one) would be pushed all the way forward and it would be on both sides. But in “K” wing the wings are unattached from each other. My guess is it’s just a damaged wing.


How about a senior citizen bee that has flown her last flight?


No, I know this is one of the fresh babies. All the new bees look very different then the package bees that arrived with the queen.


No. This one is fuzzy. Only young bees are fuzzy on the back of their thorax.


I sat and watched the hive this morning for about 20 mins, and I was fortunate to be able to witness a morning orientation flight of about 50-100 of my new babies. So apparently whatever happened to this poor girl isn’t indicative of a large number of the new bees.

One interesting point I have found after leaving the paper reducer in place is that they have created a sort of entrance door, and and exit door. The exit is much smaller and will take approx 2-2.5 bees side by side in width and only 1 in depth while the main entrance area will take 7-8 wide by the standard Flow entrance height. They seem perfectly content with this setup so I haven’t swapped it out for the beautiful reducer that @Gerald_Nickel sent me to try (which I do feel mildly guilty about) but I have just been so fascinated with watching what they do with this reducer since they can effectively do whatever they want with it. I am sure they could chew the whole thing out fairly quickly if they wanted to. Which leads me to believe that bees don’t prefer a full open entrance if given the opportunity.


we found 2 baby bees lying on the ground in front of the hive this morning unable to fly. we put them in a box with sugar water to observe them. also, we also watched an adult worker drag 1 more baby bee that couldn’t fly away. photos below:

after reading this thread, i realize that one should accept some abnormalities in a large laying population, but how much is too much? i hate to go into the hive again to inspect so soon after installation, but wish to be proactive in case i got an infected nuc as it was a relatively small one that I received.