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Varroa and DWV - it could happen to You!


Well, we had 2 nuclei delivered 2 weeks ago today. The bees looked healthy enough on the frames, but I have noticed a lot of “crawlers” on a brick path near the hive over the last 2 weeks. Today I went out and photographed a few. Some looked normal enough young bees (hairy), but were just stumbling around, even up to 30 feet from the hive.

Others had the dreaded Deformed Wing Virus, resulting from varroa. If you have never seen this, here are a couple of photos of my bees:

If you can’t see the wings, it is because they are so shriveled, they are almost not there. DWV is a death knell for many colonies, so… Guess what I will be doing this weekend? Yes, varroa mite treatment. Poor bees. :disappointed_relieved:


Poor bees.
Does your nuc supplier like to share his viruses Dawn…
After you treat the varroa will the virus go also?
Thanks for sharing.


Varroa is a fact of life in the US. If you think you don’t have it, you are missing something. So it really isn’t his fault. However, a lot of his buyers want “natural” survivor colonies with no treatment, so that is what he sells. When you talk to him, he actually recommends treating, and that is what he does with his own bees (the ones not for sale) if I understand what he is saying.

Yes, last time I saw it in a hive it disappeared about 4 weeks after treatment.


I can appreciate that people want to go down the treatment free route as I do :wink: But to supply affected colonys? Acceptable? I don’t think so. Would you accept a nuc with shb? Is TF the majority over there or doesn’t the populous vote not count. :sunglasses:
Does all varroa carry virus’s

Here in West Oz we have incredibly strict quarantine laws, we cannot bring in any honey or used beekeeping gear or plants or fruit from outside the border.
I remember pre bee keeping thinking it was crazy I couldn’t get Manuka honey or a hard to get plant into WA. (Not sure how the commercial company’s don’t?) Now I understand and fully support it.
This is one occasion where not having freedom is a good thing as it can’t happen to me.


Maybe not, but how do you fight numbers like this? Graph provided by www.beeinformed.org:

Here is the decode for the letters…
Honey Bee Viruses -
ABPV: Acute Bee Paralysis Virus
BQCV: Black Queen Cell Virus
CBPV: Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus
DWV: Deformed Wing Virus
IAPV: Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus
KBV: Kashmir Bee Virus
LSV2: Lake Sinai Virus 2
SBPV: Slow Bee Paralysis Virus


Dawn !

Which treatment you using this weekend/Spring ? So far I’ve seen No Mites drop on the my monthly winter check ! "Knock on wood ". But I’ve got a bee neighbors within easy bee flight n they don’t “Treat” … So I know it’s only a matter of time before they show up in mine.

Hoping to keep them under the curve line several mechanical way but when mine reach the BAD MARK its treatment at the old “O–K” corral ! I should get four Nuc’s in the next couple weeks.

Ohhh ! Bummer ! I finally lost that small almost over winter cluster in Birch Hive. They had plenty of stores just not enough bees to keep WarM n building back up ! :joy:

here’s several pix’s of the Queen n Die-out !

Ta Ta … Any pix’s ?


I didn’t take any pictures of the nucleus frames, as everything looked fine. That is what I have found in the past too - might see some DWV in the hive, but the area on the ground within 20 feet or so of the hive is the most informative. Just look for crawling bees unable to fly. That is what I showed in the photos in the first post. :sweat:

Oxalic Acid. A Randy Oliver method, not saying which method exactly - he discusses several :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


ALL bees have DWV even ones in Australia where they say it doesn’t occur.
Recent research at St Andrews University has shown that all bees carry different variants of DWV and where they have low levels of lots of variants they are healthy.
It is the varroa, by inoculating the virus directly (as opposed to spreading it by trophylaxis), that changes the variants in such a way that only one or two types prevail and multiply (presumably as the competition from the other types diminishes). So you get high levels of similar virus and a sick bee.

So when you deal with the varroa malignant symptoms of DWV disappear


I have to say that I appreciate @Dee’s explanation. I sort of short cut my response, as I had already written a lot. However, I totally agree with her, DWV is everywhere. It just gets a much better hold on the bees when the Varroa is out of control. When I said that DWV goes when I treat for varroa, I am not doing viral counts. I am just looking for signs in bees of viral infection. If I control varroa effectively, the viral signs all go away for many months. It is still there and lurking for sure, it just doesn’t cause a huge problem for the colony any more. Sort of like chicken pox lurks in humans and can reappear as shingles when the human is vulnerable. You can’t get rid of it. You can just try to control it.

Sorry for any confusion.


DWV is acknowledged as occurring in Australia & is listed for immediate notification. While acknowledging that both Varroa & DWV are present in all colonies, there is surely an ethical question which arises as to the levels of infestation & the significance of the viral impact on the bees, which are being supplied. If I received a colony with a significant proportion unable to fly due to physical deformation, or with a high infestation of Varroa I would not be happy. Presumably a colony with high infestations of Varroa have the ability to impact on colonies with managed or low loads?
It also seems strange that Dawn’s supplier doesn’t sell colonies he has treated, only the untreated?


What a bummer Dawn!

For anyone doing washes to track infestation this guy, Randy Oliver, has a pretty savvy method for getting very accurate counts.


I find his whole site to be interesting. Good luck on the treatment Dawn.


@ Dee, @Kirsten_Redlich,@ Dawn, @ Skeggley: I really want to thank each of you n others that actively extend thots n comments here. These are so varied n interesting. As an OLD returning beekeeper I am impressed n helped in my own experience by all your idea, notes, opinion n knowledge ! Your all are making my growth in learning the more scientific n real issues facing us. As most of you may or may not know I have currently LOST 40% of my
precious “Girls”. I lean on the wealth of the discussions here n these of my mentor to better my experience n skills at combatting these losses !! Again … Thankz !!

In all your debts,


. P.S. Her magesty n Birch Hive is now declared a die-out/Dead… Any thots or help in what the crystals n other stuff I might not see on these frame pixs ?! I’m just starting to reads the Bee Music :notes::notes::notes:’s notes … Thank you all :exclamation:


@ Dee … Thank you for you thots on saving this cluster … I’m learning. I was sadly too late on the draw with regard to Birch Huve. I’m disappointed with the loss but not discouraged. I will surely keep that treasure of downsizing to a smaller box/hive to help n encourage all future small cluster to survive if possible !!!

Thanks so much again,
Gerald :pray: we shed :joy:couple tears n said a short prayer but are moving on in our bee experience. Can’t keep crying over spilt milk, like my mum n grand mum would say !


My apologies.
I was listening to somebody discussing this and he said that Australia claimed there was no DWV. My apologies Kirsten.


So sorry Gerald :frowning:


They could be varroa mite feces, but I think it is more likely that they are “autolyzed” larvae. I suspect that uncapped brood was left unattended (not enough nurse bees) and so it died and turned to mush. :frowning:


DWV is very interesting though. It doesn’t work quite like that. Inside the hive, it is almost as hard to spot as varroa mites on adult bee bodies. I suspect that most deformed bees are thrown out of the hive within a day or two, so there just aren’t that many to see. However, if you have a hard surface near the hive, you will easily spot crawlers on the ground. Even when the infection is well-established, I usually don’t see more than 3 or 4 affected bees on the ground. The rest have probably wandered into the undergrowth. When I see crawlers near the hive, I look more closely for DWV, K-wing and unusual behaviour, like trembling or incoordination. That way I have a bit more of an idea of what mischief I am dealing with.

It is quite possible that my nuc supplier didn’t know about the DWV, given his very rural hive location. If your hives were on grass, it would be very hard to find the affected bees.

As far as him supplying untreated bees, I think it is because that is what the market here seems to demand. Everyone wants to be as natural as possible. He advertises nucs from untreated “survivor” colonies, and he purchases queens from suppliers who advertise “survivor VSH” queens. As he is also a commercial pollinator, I think he is more practical about his migratory hives, but people here just will not buy “treated” bees.


Sorry to hear about your DWV! I too have been seeing bees a few feet from the entrance of my hive from a swarm a month or so ago crawling about on the ground. But I’ve only seen a couple with obvious DWV. The others look like normal healthy adults except they aren’t able to fly. Does DWV also affect bees’ ability to fly when it doesn’t appear that their wings are physically deformed? Or is this a symptom of a different ailment?


One of my bee customers was paranoid about shb. He wanted me to make sure there was no beetles in the colonies I sold him, which I did… I dare say, it wouldn’t have taken long for the beetles to find his hives after he got them home.


Please let us know how that Randy Oliver OA treatment method goes - hope it’s successful enough to make the mites throw in the surrender towel.