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What is the White Bee Disease?

22 May

Like ghosts, a few drones such as this one limped eerily through our hive last week. It’s a hive hosted at City of Albuquerque Open Space near the Rio Grande and we suspect deformed wing virus transmitted by varroa but aren’t quite sure.

White Drone: Symptom of Deformed Wing Virus?

White Drone: Symptom of Deformed Wing Virus?

  • Yes, there’s a deformed wing.
  • Yes, we saw a few varroa on drones in the hives.
  • But I can’t find a description in our bee books of the “whitening” of live bees.
Can anyone offer further insight?
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11 Responses to “What is the White Bee Disease?”

  1. karcuri13 May 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    One of the symptoms is “miscoloring”, but I’ve never found any further explanation of what exactly is miscolored. Perhaps this white drone falls into this category.

  2. Chelsea May 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Glad you got such a great pic of the “white drones”, at least, so I can keep an eye out. I’ve never heard or seen such a thing. But then, I’ve never seen deformed wing virus in person either.

  3. Helen June 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Damage from the Arizona wildfire smoke?

    • mistress beek June 15, 2011 at 12:42 am #

      If only it were that simple 😉 Although, the wildfires are freaking my bees a bit as their behavior is slightly odd at night. It’s hard to describe, but something just seems different.

  4. Eveline Muntean June 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    I just found one in Princeton, NJ, today, June 16, 2011. It had deformed wings, was walking on the grass, completely covered with white, almost like a powder, that I thought it was a moth. But its stinger was coming in and out and barely managed to avoid it as I innocently tried to let it get on my finger. It looks like some kind of disease, like a fungus or a mold. If anyone wants to write me about it, add an “e” to my email like this: evemuntean at yahoo.

    • mistress beek June 17, 2011 at 1:23 am #

      Hi Eveline, sorry to hear you’re seeing the same thing! Do you know if your hive also has varroa? Perhaps it’s related as I’ve come to suspect…

  5. Colin Reed July 9, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Hi Eve, commenting from Cornwall in the UK. I had white bees early one year – I was advised to feed them with some suger as it was thought that there wasn’t enough natural floral food available at the time – it worked. A natural way to treat varroa over here is to dust them with a suger shaker full of iceing suger – they clean themselves and the varroas fall out of the mesh floor of the hive. I enjoy your website – have saved in in my favourites. I too was exposed to bee keeping at a very early age as tenants on an old country estate http://www.trevarno.co.uk/about-trevarno/ and have now picked it up later in life.
    Bless you Colin & Barbs

  6. dietrich August 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    varroa mites prefer drone cells. here in germany varroa is just a matter of statistics. it is everywhere. fighting every year.

  7. Rusty August 29, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    I was wondering if you’ve learned any more about the white bee disease. I’m having a lot of deformed wing virus this year and I’ve been on the lookout for white bees, but haven’t seen any. Fascinating observation on your part. I’ve researched the scientific literature for this but haven’t found anything. Keep us posted.

    • mistress beek August 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

      Hi Rusty, you know I’ve been unable to uncover anything further. I’ve just assumed it’s related to varroa but am not entirely sure.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. anthony February 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    About 15 years ago my brother and I were tearing down my grandfather’s wooden gazeebo. It was made from the masts of old fishing boats. He used to build fishing boats. Anyway, when I tore it down, one of the beams snapped and out flew 5 huge bumble bee sized and shaped bees. They were all white no color at all and had extremely small wings but were able to fly. They flew around for a minute and then were gone. I have never seen them again. I know the boats spent a lot of time in Samoa but those masts had to be at least 30 years old. Do you happen to know what type of bees these are?

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