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Deformed Wings & Varroa

During the last few days, I have noticed a lot of crawling bees on the ground surrounding a nucleus I installed over the weekend. Most, but not all, have deformed wings. I would say that 90% with deformed wings have Varroa attached to them. Others with perfect wings I have picked up and examined also have Varroa crawling on them. Most but not all. I decided to attach a sticky board on Monday to get an idea of the amount of Varroa that is falling from the 10 frame brood box. Today’s count is roughly 140 (+/- 5) Varroa, which has dropped in the three days since I installed the board. You can see my count at the link where I initially picked out just under 100 visually here -> https://a.cl.ly/rRu6WzgD

Monday was a pretty and perfectly sunny day. I saw a lot of dead bees (well mostly drunk like crawling and or dying). Ants made quick work of them as the next day; most had been moved by the ants. I cleaned up the rest on Tuesday morning. Tuesday’s weather was overcast, and the number of the crawlers went down. Examining those crawlers, there where a large amount with Varroa on them, and some had battered wings while others were below average size, dark in color and some with tiny wings. The trend continued this afternoon with a count about the same as yesterday of crawling/dying bees. During my observation at noon today, I decided to take a few pictures of what I am finding with this colony. Hopefully, someone can direct me to a course of action that can improve the health and production of this colony. Curve the rise of the Varroa and see fewer crawlers. I was only able to post two links since I am new to the forum, links to one picture below.

Dead Bee with Varroa -> https://a.cl.ly/v1urjnw7

I would like to thank everyone in advance for any insight you can provide and hope anyone can further my understanding of the issue here.

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Just in case this may help, here are two videos of some of the crawlers.

Crawler -> https://a.cl.ly/OAurGvEW
Dying Bee with Varroa -> https://a.cl.ly/YEuAPbdJ

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0s1r1s From inital impressions, your hive (and nearby hives) are succumbing to the varroa parasite. Once you see the mites on the bees, typically it is too late to do much.

Personally I would start with new hives (packages) for this year if you expect a honey crop and follow Randy Oliver’s (your countryman) method in dealing with this serious pest.


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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum.

So sorry that you have this. Whoever supplied that nucleus should hold themselves responsible for supplying such a sick colony. By the time you have visible DWV, that colony is doomed unless you do something fast. Even then, you may not be able to save them. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I do have some suggestions though.

  1. Contact the supplier and ask them about it. They should replace the colony. You can’t get DWV in 5 days, so it is their fault, not yours. Keep in mind that you may be given another infested and infected colony though. You might want to ask for a refund instead.
  2. You can try treating. With that heavy an infestation, I am very cautious about your chances of success. If you don’t mind not being organic, you could put Apivar strips in the hive. Mann Lake and most beekeeping suppliers sell them. If you want to be organic, I would look up oxalic acid vaporization using the search tool at the top right of this forum. The advantage of that method is that you get an immediate knock down of the varroa numbers. The disadvantage is that you have to buy some pricey equipment, and you have to treat repeatedly until the numbers drop. Once you have the equipment, it is very cheap to repeat it.
  3. Order a package of bees from a reputable supplier and set up a second hive (or replace this nucleus if you are returning it). Packages are much less likely to be varroa-infested and it would give you a second hive in case this one demises. I have ordered multiple packages from Mann Lake. They are high quality bees from an extremely good supplier in California. I recommend them without reservation.

Once again, I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this. It is not your fault, but is related to mismanagement by the supplier. I hope that you are able to house a healthy colony soon. :thinking:


I wonder if @Bobby_Thanepohn is still around? He might know a reputable supplier of bees in Georgia. :blush:

There are many!
Flippen bees
Blue Ridge Honey Company

All beekeepers with varroa in their areas will benefit from understanding this graph linking varroa buildup to brooding in the hive. This will determine what treatments will work on the parasite…I can’t leave my hives untreated during the summer because I have non-stop brooding from spring to fall resulting in rapidly climbing varroa numbers prior to winter. This is why I recommend Oxalic Acid administered via a shop towel/cellulose sponge during that time. If you do have brood breaks during that time, you might find success with Oxalic Acid vapor, but it will contaminate your honey. BTW, Oxalic Acid is a natural constituent in honey.

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