One-Winged Bees - what's up?

Asked July 21, 2019, 8:55 PM EDT

We have a number of plants in our yard that attract bees and there's always bees buzzing around. This year, however, we keep finding bees with only one wing crawling on the ground. If they have a second wing, it is not fully developed (see picture). We've never seen this before. What's up?

Marion County Oregon

2 Responses

Good eyes for spotting that! It looks like the bee has a virus known as “Deformed Wing Virus”. This virus is vectored by a mite, Varroa destructor. Most likely there is a colony of bees nearby that has a rampant infestation of Varroa that is not being controlled by the beekeeper. Once you see adult bees with deformed wings the colony is on its last legs.

Here is an article from eXtension, Honey Bee Viruses, the Deadly Varroa Mite Associates, which explains the problem in far more detail than you ever expected to know.

Thank you Anna for solving the mystery!