Right, no one was claiming zero mites. That's what I said.
Yes, that's what you said.
I had an Inspection here in SC just a few days ago and the report reports no hives w/ varroa. I'd be surprised if I have colonies w/ zero mites. I am also sure that if left untreated, many colonies would suffer and die from an over abundance of varroa mites by sometime in Sept. ot Oct. For what that is worth in this discussion.
which begs the question, 'how many mites are too many?'
i believe this is referred to as 'economic threshold'.
i have found various numbers offered here and there.
ian mentioned having to lower his presumably due to increased virulence of the viruses the mites vector.
sol has a case where a high (number not available) infestation was survived by the colony.
it would be nice to know what levels are being tolerated by tf colonies, and if there is indeed a threshold at which one should consider at least requeening.
i'll be looking at that myself this year in my yard, although the ones with the highest counts are slated for requeening.
the six colonies i lost this winter could have produced a fair amount of honey. this will be my third year to sell honey, and if i'm lucky, i may finally recoup what i have spent so far and then some.
I don't believe the answer can accurately be answered or the number/percentage easily and accurately determined. Having seen cases where samples of similar size taken froma single colony showed a variety of resultant numbers of varroa mites per sample.
yep, i think that is part of the problem mark. plus, it may turn out to be one of things that varies with location.
but the % infestation by alcohol or ether appears to be the most widely accepted measure in use by those trying quantify it, as imperfect as it is.
In the case in point I suppose only the inspector or Mr. Bush know just what this particular visual inspection consists of. Perhaps it's just looking at some drone brood (which may or may not be a good indicator of varroa numbers in a given hive) or perhaps something else. I know it's been a loooong time since I have ever actually spotted a mite on a bee. A number of years ago I got a magnifyfying glass and looked for several minutes on a bee covered frame of brood and wasn't able to see a single mite. A subsequent ether roll of those same bees showed a pretty significant number. That surprised me because at the time I just didn't have a concept for how mites will burrow in to the " neck area" and between the abdomen and thorax. I think it is really important on a forum read by people of all different levels of experience to emphasize that good mite detection methods are critical to making good treatment decisions.
That number/percentage is hard to guage, but if you account for the time of year and considering other health factors of the hive, you can make a measurement that gives you a reference to work on.
Without some sort of reference it would be impossible to assess the colony condition. This way we can act proactively instead of acting in a reactive manner
well that is, a reference is useful, unless you dont measure disease within the hive, and just let them die.
oh wait, these treatment free bees dont have disease, and dont die,
or wait, maybe its that these treatment free bees do have disease and dont die, because , . . .
or wait, maybe its that these treatment free bees do have disease and do die, but the keeper doesnt know of any disease in the hives so they dont know what killed them,.
I am experiencing the not dying part. And if by disease, you are speaking of mites, I have those too. I do see them, once or twice a year on individual bees and occasionally a few in broken drone brood. That's why I keep questioning the overall relevance of mite testing. Y'all say it doesn't matter because the mites will show up again and kill the hives. I say it doesn't matter because most of the hives aren't dying anyway.
It used to be I claimed that they weren't dying of mites. Jim was incredulous. Now they don't seem to be dying, so they can't be dying of mites.
Man this thread keeps on giving, that was a good one Harry. But, I didn't take MB post as having no mites, just that tests confirm what he is saying about them in his bees/apiary/location. I do not know why people have a hard time believing a colony can be mite free. I would say the most important aspect is endemic pressure in the area, and I believe some areas are just naturally low. Combine that with good bees and a good beekeeper, you get instant success. The real test would be picking up some of these hives, and putting them into a commercial setting and see what happens.
sol, is it accurate to describe what you have done over the past 10 years is allow the bees to select for themselves by not treating and allowing the survivors to propagate?
i believe you report only one winter loss for 2011, and none for 2012. have you kept track of the losses over the ten years, and if yes, can you report them in terms of percent loss for each year?
looking back, is there anything that you would have changed or done differently?
I have made reference to the Saskatraz project a few times, they are a hard core survivour project, and can relate to this discussion. They are not treatment free though. But it would be about as close to a commercial treatment free project as you can get.
These guys have loads of testing and analysis behind their work. They know exactly whats going on in the hives. They are working very closely with other breeders here in Canada and seem to be making some head way in their overall goal of varroa tolerance, to a certain extent.
The reason why I keep referring to the Saskatraz project is that never have they ever claimed that they have been able to breed a type of bee that is resistant to the mite or is unaffected by the mite. Right from the start they suffered demoralizing losses, and still do today. And these guys have dedicated the last 10 or more years on this project, full time with huge breeding efforts from abroad.
The point is, this whole notion that someone can just simply quit treating, and breed a few generations of survivours to achieve a treatment free operation is ridiculous. I wish it were so easy, I would of gone treatment free 10 years ago as would of the rest of the country.
There is alot of interesting conversation in the treatment free forum, useful discussion. Do not get offended if you get a different direction of feed back from the commercial forum. I also find all this discussion interesting, but you got to cover the basics, or I will shoot you down every time,
biggest complaint from the VSH stock is that they are lousy producers