Jim, Where did you get the word "immoral" in my post, please point it out to me? John
nice post adam.
and really, i think most of us share your frustration about the lack of concrete information ,as well as the diametrically opposed approaches.
on the other hand, and especially for those who like a challange, like to tinker, like to experiment, and figure things out, beekeeping appears to be the perfect pursuit. :)
my view is that since apis cerana has evolved to the point that the host/parasite relationship has found equilibrium, there is every hope that it's european cousins will do the same.
i feel that is where our bees find theirselves today, in the process of establishing that equilibrium. they are obviously delevoping traits that help them be resistant. those traits are becoming more common in the feral population, and are being selected for by beekeepers.
this is the way i see us helping the bee.
to your op, from what i read, strong hives are every bit and maybe even more vunerable to varroa collapse. this is because you end up with many more mites in the hive, that gang up on the remaining bees as the population dwindles.
you asked in another thread, 'what have you learned this season?'. for me, too much to post here, but up there near the top of the list would be to know the mite counts in my hives. without that, you are really shooting in the dark.
What do you expect? We are dealing w/ an organic natural system. Tell me how to reduce the Divorce Rate in humans. You'll get all sorts of different opposing answers I suspect.
True enough, Mark. But you won't get much of an argument going over how to deal with Polio, or about what causes a thunderstorm...
Some things about the world we have a pretty solid grasp on. Most things we don't, I suppose. So I'm not terribly surprised by the lack of consensus on things surrounding the bee, it just took me a while to see that was the situation.
I'm not critical of the situation; just trying to figure out what path to take myself with so much conflicting information. This situation is not uncommon for a relative beginner in anything, but that fact does not make it any less perplexing, or worthy of discussion.
another point that i picked up on, when re-reading randy's stuff, and having to do with strong hives collasping, (and this is paraphrased from what i gleaned):
it is not in the parasite's long term interest to totally wipe out it's host, because it needs the host to live off of, this is what is meant by parasite/host equilibrium.
with a. cerana, this equilibrium has been reached, and the mite is no longer the threat it was.
with the european honey bee, there has not been time for equilibrium, and the mite continues to collapse colonies.
the primary mode of transmission for the mite, is by attaching itself to robbing bees, thereby hitching a ride to a 'new' colony.
allowing hives to die out, and get robbed out, selects for mites which end up collapsing the colony.
if there were no managed bees, and as the mites eventually killed off all of their potential 'new' colonies, the mites would have to adopt a strategy of not completely devasting a colony to survive, and thus,
parasite/host equilibrium would be achieved.
if this is true, it suggests to me that we might be selecting for more virulent mites, if we allow the colonies to totally succumb to them, and especially if they are picked up and carried to other colonies.
so my strategy will be to not allow any dead outs from mites if i can help it, and i see no other way to accomplish that other than taking mite counts and acting proactively to prevent the spread.
I've read that too.
Which means that in a natural situation (or one without human intervention) the genetic selection of the mite favors mites who don't get so strong as to overwhelm their host. It isn't just the bee who is at risk. The bee must select to deal with the mite, and the mite must select to accommodate the bee that it needs to live.
In the treated scenario, the mite is selecting for offspring who can deal with the human attempts to kill it, and is kept from killing it's host by the treatments. So there really isn't much natural selection for mites who don't kill the host, and when treatments are stopped, the bee is having to deal with a very strong "over-breeding" mite. So the imbalance is perpetuated.
At least, that's the theory...
You take it and run with it or you don't. I'm running with it at the moment.
yes, treating can select for mites who can survive the treatment, and deprive the bees of the opportunity to evolve resistance on their own, and in the end, slow down the emergence of parasite/host equilibrium.
it took a. cerana and varroa 150 years to work it out. can we afford to wait?
jmho, but it looks like the best thing we can do to the help process along is selecting for bees with the right stuff, back them up when needed, and not let the collasper mites spread.
Why would killing mites keep bees from developing mechanisms to deal w/ mites? Not enuf impact from mites?
Adam, I recently asked one of our top bee researchers about numbers of wild honeybees left in the wild (Canada). I was surprised that no one has made that a topic of study, but in any case, in most of the country he felt the consensus was that they are gone. Here and there in warmer pockets there is anecdotal evidence that feral colonies are surviving, but he was skeptical...feeling that it is hard for casual observers to differentiate between colonies that survive year to year in the same location vs. colonies that use a great bee spot, but die off every winter, and then the spot is re-occupied by a new swarm, likely from a domestic kept hive.
This means we have to ask the question, at least here in Canada, whether honeybees would survive if we withdrew beekeeper management (of Varroa in particular).
There's always a lot of speculation on feral bees and their health, yet so few real comprehensive or inclusive studies to consider. And that makes sense to me, in that I think it would be pretty hard to find a large enough sample, over a wide enough geography to get a true sense of their condition.
If a colony is allowed to crash, most of the bees and mites die, the exception being those that have drifted to another colony.
So the influence of mites genetic line that totally kills its host population (and so, its own population) is reduced.. it is a smaller part of the gene pool. That's how it influences the mites, and promotes equilibrium.
Where the bees are concerned, any genetic unusually susceptibility to, or lack of defense against, mite parasitism is eliminated, as far as tht particular colony's influence is concerned. The only exception would be if that drifted worker found herself in a queenless hive and became a drone layer, and so passed on its "mite related weakness".
By not treating, we select for mites that do not destroy their host, and bees that are resistant or tolerant to mite infestation.
By treating, we select for mites that destroy both their host population and their own, and for mite susceptible bees.
A guy like you, Mark, would almost certainly sustain crushing financial losses by not treating at present.
But if us small guys overcome the challenge of having the susceptible bee genes and "suicidal" mite genes distributed by all of the bees by you big guys, and can develop lines that are not economically damaged by mites by taking the losses and select for the opposite, we can then provide queens from that stock to commercial people.
And that could put you in a position where you could requeen with bees from that stock and stop treating without committing economic suicide.
how ya been jim? i read it to mean that john was saying he wasn't treating because he felt 'sorry' for the bees, and felt a moral obligation to end their suffering. i guess you could take his statement a couple of different ways.
When I first heard about Varroa and tracheal mites, it was connected with the prognosis that my hives would die within three years, without treatments to suppress the mites. At first I believed the prognosis, I even began making plans to use treatments to save my hives. Then I realized I had already been keeping bees, at my present location, for more than a decade, without treatments, and without a single lost colony. It's been more than two decades now, and still no losses due to mites. I know that my bees have Varroa, I see one every once in awhile. Fortunately they don't seem to be the scourge they are reported to be.
I often wonder why my experience with mites seems to be so different.
that's awesome joseph. i know you raise your own queens. have you brought in any new blood, or just raising from your best ones?
At first I just did a cut out from a neighbors home, then I did as many walk-away splits, each year, as possible. Back then the bees were probably highly AHB -- they were quite difficult to manage, so I determined to requeen with gentler bees, with cordovan coloring.
Since then I obtained a few Italian Cordovan queens from Koehnen's, then raised daughters from them to requeen all my colonies. Later I purchased a few more queens from Koehnen's to continue raising Cordovan daughters, and then I purchased some from Pendell Apiaries, and most recently from Russell Apiaries. It's been a long while since I kept any of the local, possibly AHB colonies. I use combinations of different comb types in my hives, PF120, Ritecell, but mostly foundationless. I have continued raising queens, thanks to the inspiration provided by those original AHB colonies, I learned that I have a knack for queen raising.
I keep hearing how untreated colonies will perish, from Varroa, within a few years. I'm still waiting to see that happen, not that I am anxious to actually see it.
that's a neat history joseph. i guess its reasonable assume that some of the good ahb traits got mixed into your queenlines via the drones. which of the russell lines did you get?
Joseph - I think one factor in your experiance with mites may be your location. Research shows mites do not survive as well in warmer hives. We stopped painting hives light colors and went to darker colors as one aspect of our IPM. Although we do not have any direct examination that we correlate directly to this as a succes in our operation the research was good and we felt it important enough to do it with the knowledge we would be losing some production to workers working to keep the hive cool as a trade off. You might be seeing a result of higher hive temps due to region reducing mites. May be other factors as well relating to relative humiditiy etc. we don't know about. In our area, heavy with flora, we know mites get transferred from bees visiting "infected flowers" and mite transfer via this road. Although small factors the combinations may be a "natural" defense for your area. We could talk about the influence of AHB in your area as well and their impact.