Sexual transmission of Deformed Wing Virus
Not a new story but now well publicised.
The Queen can catch one or more sexually Transmitted diseases whilst mating with multiple Drones. The more partners the higher the risk
As Varroa mites prefer drone brood for their reproduction due to the longer incubation time and as the mites feed on the drone larvae they pass on the Deformed Wing Virus to the drones.
This could be a large contributing factor to why so many queens are failing early or are superseded for no reason or even rejected on introduction. When the Queen fails the hive ultimately collapses if there is no intervention by the beekeeper or nature if the time of year allows.
The Mating Process
When the queens time comes to venture out to mate she flies a to a DCA ( Drone congregation area) and mates with a number of drones the more drones she mates with the higher the risk of contracting an STD.
Drones can pass on a STD
The drone is a one shot wonder and has only the one shot and the explosive mating ultimately leads to the drones demise as he falls backward with a tiny smile on his face leaving behind part of his penis in the Queen and also leaving the possibility of the DWV in the semen.
Drones make up half the recipe in nature to a mated Queen so it is more important than ever to make sure drone production hives are as healthy and well fed as possible with the lowest possible Varroa levels at all times of year.
Any Queen breeding program should consider only to include the healthiest of hives for Queen & Drone production rejecting any hives that have shown any signs of DWV.
You can help control your own but unfortunately you can’t chaperone your virgin queens to the DCA.
If you using Instrumental Insemination in your breeding program you have more control over the semen donor drones i treat the donor hives on the 1st of every month using OAV to keep the levels as minimal as possible. I also keep these hives as far away as possible from other bees in the area.
No one wants a queen to fail in September!
The study was first published back in September 2016