Deformed Wing VirusThe deformed wing virus is responsible for the bee viral disease that causes a deformation of the adult bees' wings. It is believed that the virus is transmitted from one individual to another by means of Varroa Destructor. The virus transmission occurs while the honey bees are still in their pupa stage. Virus infections can lead to the total collapse of the infested colony. The disease might also spread through infested food, from nursing bees to bee brood. The virus has been discovered in eggs, royal jelly and in brood food. In comparison with other bee viruses the deformed wing virus is so dangerous since it develops quite slowly, the infested pupae managing to reach adult age. However, the infested adults have deformed wings and cannot survive for too long.
This virus was first identified in Japan at the beginning of the 1980's. Since then it has been identified in various parts of the world. It has been found in a latent state in more than ninety per cent of apiaries in France.
The deformed wing virus has a plus stranded type of RNA. The diseased individuals present a strange pigmentation, shorter abdomen sections and malformed appendages. The wings of the ill bees are crumpled and vestigial. Their lifespan is dramatically reduced. The presence of Varroa Mites and of the deformed wing virus within the same hive leads to immunosuppressant bees which are extremely sensitive to other pathogens. The deformed wing disease is very similar to other bee viral infestation. It persists within a hives as a sort of latent infection giving the impression that the bee family is in a state of perfect health. Researchers believe that when a bee colony is weakened by Varroa destructor, the latent virus of the deformed wing disease gains power and outburst causing a damage plus.
The infested bees are unable to fly and this leads to their death. The laboratory analysis done on Deformed Wings Virus infested individuals pointed out that the pupae in the so called white eye stage were the most heavily infested. Drones turned out to be extremely resistant to this virus. Actually they are the least affected by it.
There is no medication or vaccine that can be used to fight the deformed wing virus. The disease can only be prevented by keeping the apiary, hives and beekeeping tools clean. It is also important to replace old combs since they might be a source of infection and to treat all bee colonies against Varroa mites. Re-queening can also be a helpful practice against the deformed wing virus.
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