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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Delta, Utah
    Posts
    494

    Post

    I'm very interested in trying small cell foundation to combat Varroa, heard lots of great testimonials. From what I understand the smaller cell size more closely reflects what bees would naturally build on their own. If this is true, why has the Varroa mite killed off most of the feral bee colonies?
    -Rob Bliss
    Bliss Honey and bee supplies

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,131

    Post

    >From what I understand the smaller cell size more closely reflects what bees would naturally build on their own.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

    >If this is true, why has the Varroa mite killed off most of the feral bee colonies?

    The problem is that this question comes with several assumptions.

    The first assumption is that the feral bees have all but died out. I have not found this to be true. I see a lot of feral bees and I see more every year.

    The second assumption is that when some of the feral bees did die, that they all died from Varroa mites. A lot of things happened to the bees in this country including Tracheal mites, and viruses. I'm sure some of the survival from some of this is a matter of selection. The ones that couldn't withstand them died.

    The third assumption is that huge numbers of mites hitchhiking in on robbers can't overwhelm a hive no matter how well they handle Varroa. Tons of crashing domestic hives were bound to take a toll. Even if you have a fairly small and stable local population of Varroa, a huge influx from outside will overwhelm a hive.

    The fourth assumption is that a recently escaped swarm will build small cell. They will build something in between. For many years most of the feral bees were recent escapees. It's only recently I've seen a shift in the population to be the dark bees rather than the Italians that look like they are recent. Large bees (bees from 5.4mm foundation) build an in between sized comb, usually around 5.1mm. So these recently swarmed domestic bees are not regressed. It takes a swarm from this swarm to build smaller cells.

    The fifth assumption is that small cell beekeepers don't believe there is also a genetic component to the survival of bees with Varroa. Obviously there are bees that are more or less hygienic and more or less able to deal with many pests and diseases. Whenever a new disease or pest comes along the ferals have to survive them without any help.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,074

    Post

    "The fourth assumption is that a recently escaped swarm will build small cell. They will build something in between. For many years most of the feral bees were recent escapees. It's only recently I've seen a shift in the population to be the dark bees rather than the Italians that look like they are recent. Large bees (bees from 5.4mm foundation) build an in between sized comb, usually around 5.1mm. So these recently swarmed domestic bees are not regressed. It takes a swarm from this swarm to build smaller cells."

    What MB dosen't include in here is that it is assumed that all bees move into unoccipied cavities, which is far from the truth. They will more often than not move into a home that has already been occipied before. So they inheriet whatever size cell the swarm before drew. They will rarely ever tear down what is already there and rebuild it. So if the swarm before drew cells bigger than 4.9mm, then the new swarm will also be bigger than sc bees would normally be. Which adds to the overall mortailty of feral bees.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Delta, Utah
    Posts
    494

    Post

    I'm sold, Thank you Michael and Peggjam
    -Rob Bliss
    Bliss Honey and bee supplies

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