Deformed Drones, Mites On The Missies, And A Nectar Flow

Although it’s only been 6 days since I opened the bees last, I plan on going to my grandparents tomorrow (and it’s supposed to rain) so I wanted to make sure to take a look at the bees.

The queen is laying eggs in a super scattered mess. There were some frames with 4 or 5 eggs on them, others were relatively well covered, but only one had a solid pattern. There were a couple supersedure cells on some frames, so I moved those closer to the center of the brood nest. Not that it matters, clearly.

There was only 1 drone in the hive. Its wing was deformed, so I killed and removed it. There are a quite a few drone cells though, and I left those be. I figure, its spring, there are supposed to be males. The hive has a good flow of nectar coming in (several frames were glittering with it) so they can support a few drones. There was an entire frame of workers that seemed to have a chunk missing from their wings. It was really weird. I only noticed it because their wings looked so small, but they appeared fine otherwise and they could still fly. I’m not sure what to make of it. Also, it appeared as though a fresh batch of bees had just hatched. They were SMALL. Tiny tiny little girls. They were close to half the size of the older bees. Not sure what to make of that either. I also found a mite in the hive. I only saw one, and I squished and removed the bee that it was living on.

The bees don’t seem eager to expand, but they insist on drawing comb out in between the boxes. The queen also insists on laying eggs there. I removed it. In other messy news, there is a lot more propolis in the hive. It’s a thick brown paste that’s a goopy mess. The good news is it comes right off the frames. I cleaned all the edges of the frames off and gained probably a half-inch back. It was nice to have that space to move the frames around a little easier.

I’m a little worried about the deformed wing of the drone and the greatly reduced size of the new workers. I don’t even know where there are combs that small. The mite sighting kind of alerts me to the possibility of other diseases, and the mold in the hive was still noticeable despite the increase in pollen and nectar stores (right next to moldy cells). I think the sooner this queen is replaced, the better.


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7 responses to “Deformed Drones, Mites On The Missies, And A Nectar Flow”

  1. Emily Heath says :

    Deformed wings and small bees can be caused by varroa. If lots of mites are feeding on the bees this stops them growing as large as they would normally. Once you start seeing deformed wings and seeing mites on the bees it’s a sign that you have a serious infestation.

    You probably need to treat for varroa, though I’m not sure what treatments would be available to you in Washington. A shook-swarm to shake them onto new comb would help reduce the varroa. You might want to requeening before doing that though as it doesn’t sound like she’s laying too well. Hope they can hang in there!

    • willowbatel says :

      They were doing so well last year too!
      I’ll let them requeen and see how things go. If I have to shook swarm I will. Will I able to split them later in the year though? I really want to get a second hive because I’m not interested in loosing bees again just because I didn’t have the resources to save them.

  2. Emma Sarah Tennant says :

    Glad to hear your bees are getting along this spring. Weird about the small bees. We recently found deformed drones in a hive at our apiary – they had stunted growth so were the size of workers but were obviously drones because of their big bug eyes! Hopefully, now the warmer weather is coming the bees will get stronger again. Have you changed your brood comb for the year, some evidence suggests that queens prefer to lay eggs in new comb so that might explain the irregular laying patterns? Hard to say. Bees never read the books! 🙂

    • willowbatel says :

      I was thinking about scraping some frames clear of wax, just so the bees would have a place to draw comb out. I’ll wait until the bees requeen themselves though. This current queen is going to be replaced one way or another.

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