Thanks. So about 22 hives in total, right.
>Ok. Not a single loss from varroa/diseaes then. How many died through the last ten years in total? (Not from varroa.) It also would be nice to get an average percentage of colony losses each year.
I did not keep a specific tally. An apiary is a kind of super-superorganism. Splits make up losses (which would otherwise be swarms). Most of my losses were during the time I was not here to manage them at all and in a winter where it was -27 F (-33 C) every night for several weeks.
Winter losses are all over the place. Fall flows play into it as it gives you young bees. Sometimes there is no fall flow. When I'm here, if that happens, I give them some pollen and maybe feed syrup. We also get winters that vary greatly. Some winters are -27 F (-33 C) every night for several weeks. Some never get much below 0 F (-18 C). On rare occasions there is not a flying day from October to April. Usually there is some flying days somewhere in the middle of winter. So some winters losses run maybe 5-10%. Some winters more like 30%. I consider 10% typical with a typical winter. I have seen the first killing frost as early as September and as late as Christmas. The last killing frost could be as early as April or as late as May. This last year it was May. A typical winter is a winter following at least a little bit of a fall flow where we have a couple of weeks of -10 F (-23 C) and a few days somewhere in the middle of winter for the bees to take cleansing flights. With a strong fall flow, some flying time in winter and nothing below 0 F losses are at about 2%.
That their parents were able to arrange that good start is another feature that counts in their favour.)
You are not seeing the many who failed, whether quickly or slowly (Nature usually arranges for things to go quickly - lack of vigour leads to attacks of one kind or another that finish the weak off mercifully)
This is an important point Bernhard that I'd urge you to consider well. Its been estimated (by I think Seeley) that in nature something in the regeon of 3/4 of swarms don't make it through their first winter. (Its the early ones that tend to pull through). Nature is harsh. Its a competition in which losers frequently perish. Its ugly. But that is how health is maintained in a population. Interfere with 'hospital hives' and you downgrade the health of the population. That's just a fact.
Using a 'Hard Bond' approach is simply arranging for more or less what would happen anyway to occur in one place, where you can see it. There is no ethical difficulty. You can always finish them off quickly if you think that appropriate - or arrange to be able to requeen.
Try this: a unusually fierce winter will kill off many individuals, but the survivors are more than usually well selected, and the populations will, all else being equal, rebuild faster than usual as a result. That's elegant - and the more you look at the multiple mechanisms of natural selection, the you more realise just how beautifully elegant it all is.
More importantly _as long as your hives contain a good proportion of resistant stocks_ the greater the likelyhood of transmission of desirable genes down the drone side. This reduces failures due to matings with lousy (treated) drones)
(Michael Bush writes elsewhere recently that feral stock _are_ doing selection/health raising work for you. This is true - _in some places._ Where it is stalled due to a high population of treated colonies it is necessary to work harder to maintain resistance. This means more hives containing more drones, and spreading them around constructively. Some lucky people have thriving ferals - some don't; most probably don't really know.)
Talking plenty about the principles and methods of population husbandry, applied to bees, will allow anyone who wants to try to design approaches that suit their own circumstances to maximise their chances of success.
This is identifying clearly the key problem/solution arena, and prioritising it, letting peripheral issues take their proper (secondary) place.
Austrian beekeeper Alois Wallner - selection for bees which attack/bite varroa
Juhani Lunden, Finish beekeeper. He treated mites with oxalic dribbling only, giving less every winter. Does not treat anymore, not on small cell.
Sasha, these are excellent websites and exactly what I was looking for.
It was interesting to read some of the details, the Wallner case focusing on clean (if I understand that term correctly) wax.
The Lunden case was interesting one as well but needs some parsing. First, it was admitted that the Bond style apiary was kept in a way which disadvantaged the bees in overwintering. And while there were other issues involved, they all died ultimately. The second thing I wanted to explore was the nature of the treatment. The treatment was as you say, less each winter. That's kinda like putting the wall closer to the edge of the cliff until the animal learns how to fly, which is more or less Bond Lite in my view.
Thank you for these links Sasha, very educational.
The balance is not disturbed within the hive only. I learned from Dean: No bee is an island. Neither is a beehive. No colony is an island. It is embedded into an environment. And this environment is out of balance, badly! At least here where I live.
You can't save a colony that is embedded within a bad environment. Just a thought that I want to share.
For this reason there are no ferals here. I found a bee tree, but this tree looses it's colonies each winter. Every year a swarm moves in. Every winter it dies out. This goes quite some time. Year after year.
It's the environment here that may be a factor to consider, too. Nothing really thrives in an environment out of balance.
Not sure you understand Tim. We were talking about large mite family uncapping vs small mite family uncapping, which I doubt you are seeing. But if you are seeing it, at what ratio?
I think you didn't quite read what I said properly, and are just talking about VSH uncapping in general, which many of us me included see all the time too.
To se what I was referring to earlier, requires a microscope and a lot of research time.
Donīt ask how many mites there are, I do not know, only some 10 powder sugar tests from breeders were made and showded about 2-5% infestation in adult bees in early June.
The next 12 years will be spent breeding them to gather as much honey as they used to. But as in all other animal and plant breeding, resistance comes with a price, the varroa resistant bees will never gather as much as the normal ones. Honey production is the only valid measure for varroa resistance.
The picture from this week, feeders were removed.
What's the point of resistant bees that don't produce honey?
>What's the point of resistant bees that don't produce honey?
Not much, I guess pollination. But where is the evidence that is true? I think that may be the result of aggressive breeding for just resistance, but if you select for productive, healthy, gentle bees then you can select the combinations of many traits, that give you that.
Imagine there are two beekeeperes who have managed to breed varroa resistant bees. I think it is irrelevant, what causes the resistance or if the other trait is 100% effective and the other one 95%, the only real measure is the honeyproduction (or the overall economy, "more honey with less work" as Brother Adam said)
In the end, there is no point of counting mites or freesing pieces of brood etc. Actually there is no point in in even today, as we do not know how these measurements correlate with varroa resistance.
As cg3 pointed out, there is no point of resistant bees, which donīt produce honey.
Self suffiency is for me a more important measure. I'd rather have bees that thrive without my attention, gathering a reasonable amount of honey, than bees that get more but need attention.
Trying to maximise production at any cost is what got us into this mess in the first place, and what keeps us here.
Working toward the goal of genetically diverse, self-sufficient, locally adapted bees seems to me to be a more reliable aim for the long term.
But on the subject of varroa and honey production. IN my first year my only hive was moving along just as i expected until about mid July. When suddenly all production halted. I mentioned it a couple of times on this site and was told most likely my flow had stopped. Eventually I discovered varroa in the hive fairly heavily. It is now my opinion that it was the varroa infestation that brought the production of this otherwise healthy looking hive to a near stand still. Once treated they started producing again. This year this same hive mite free never showed no slow down in July. Mites do more than just kill colonies.
If you want good pollinators, my guess is the best honey makers are also the best pollinators.