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Thread: Ahb & Varroa

  1. #1
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    Hello All

    Why is it that Varroa has wiped out most of the feral colonies of European Bees but the AHB march north continues? Is their resistance to the mites that strong? And if AHB cross breeds with the European bees won't that effect their resistance to Varroa?

    Dale

  2. #2
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    I have found that almost all of the advantages touted as the reason for the AHB surviving are the same advatages I see with small cell. The AHB are living in natural sized cells. This means the mites have less room in the cells to reproduce and the brood hatch a day or two earlier limiting the amount that the varroa can reproduce even more. All of these advatages are simply because teh AHB are building natural sized cells and the Eropean honey bees are kept on unaturally sized foundation. I do not believe the African bees have any genetic advantage. They simply have the advatage that we are not messing with them.

    Example: I have installed "normal" packages of bees (which were raised on 5.4mm or 5.5mm cells) on wax coated PermaComb (which is about 4.95mm cells) and counted the days from the cells being capped to the bees emerging and they emerging a day earlier than bees on 5.4mm cells. This is a significant advantage that has been observed with AHB and attributed to AHB genetics. It is not genetics. It is mechanics. The bees from smaller cells emerge sooner.

    Another touted genetic advantage of the AHB is the queens emerging a day sooner. But because the bees (being smaller) build a smaller queen cell and the queen fills that cell and emerges a day sooner. So do my small cell bees!

    I don't think there is a genetic advantage for the AHB, just the freedom to do what they need to do, instead of us laying out unaturally larges cells for them.

  3. #3
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    Sounds like a good point for small cell implemention. But what about feral european colonies? Do they go back to small cells after they swarm out of a large cell hive?

    Dale


  4. #4
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    I would be curious if anyone knew what size cells were used in Central and South America where AHB colonies are managed?

    Everything I have heard is that they don't have problems with mites in those managed colonies. I have a hunch that the cell size may be similar to what we have been accustomed to here especially considering that there are folks from the states involved in beekeeping down there.

    Perhaps it is a combination of mechanics of small cell and genetics? There are differences in the rate of development of queens from the different races.....caucasians are known for their late emergence.


  5. #5
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    I know that the people keeping African bees use 4.8mm foundation. I don't know what the beekeepers in South America use.

    Bees swarming from a domestic hive that is common size will be 5.4mm. They will build about 5.2 to 5.15 mm cells. The cells will gradually build up with cocoons and get smaller but this takes several years. A swarm from this hive will probably buld 5.1 to 5.0 cell size. A swarm from this hive will probably build 4.9mm size. A swarm from this hive will probably build 4.85mm to 4.8mm size. That's about as small as it gets, but they have to survive the first couple of swarms to get small enough to be an advantage over the mites.

  6. #6
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    The part I don't get in this argument is that nearly all wild colonies, which were wild for many generations, succumbed to varroa infestation. If the previous arguments were valid, the wild colonies should have been survivors while the "kept" colonies should have died. They all died, without intervention (medication).

  7. #7
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    A lot of them were still on larger comb because they were large when they swarmed and that's what they built. Also there is the genetic hygenic issues. What I do know is that Feral hives DID survive. I have seen feral bees around here. They are much smaller than the domestic bees and they are, at first sight, just black. But a close inspection in the light shows dark reddish colored bands on the abdomen.

    Why did so many die? Well, some, as I said, were on large comb because they built it when they swarmed from a domestic hive. Some of the survival of the feral hives, and the AHB is genetic. I'm sure a lot of AHB died too. But no one bred them for all those other traits that we worry about, they were bred (by nature) to survive. Our feral bees were just escapees from domestic breeding programs. Nature has now bred them, by drastic losses, to survive and I expect the feral bees to make a comeback.

  8. #8
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    Michael, I have been following some of the discussion on Small Cell Beekeeping, and I have been checking out the Suppliers on this side of the pond, none of them have small cell foundation in their catalogue. Where is it available on your side?

    ------------------
    Richie

  9. #9
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    I think I found a bee you would like Michael. I was sorting thru mating nucs today and noticed the smallest little bees I have ever seen in the nuc. I thought maybe they were just newly emerged or something but everything was smaller than normal. Weird looking little buggers.

  10. #10
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    Richie,

    check the Dadant catalong on line under dadant.com
    They carry it for sure. The only problem is that they are not wired, and, in my opinion, it is a collosal pain to wire all those frames.

    Michel, you say that in South America they use 4.8mm foundation. Do you know where they get it from and if it is wired?

    Jorge

  11. #11
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    >Michael, I have been following some of the discussion on Small Cell Beekeeping, and I have been checking out the Suppliers on this side of the pond, none of them have small cell foundation in their catalogue. Where is it available on your side?

    >check the Dadant catalong on line under dadant.com
    They carry it for sure. The only problem is that they are not wired, and, in my opinion, it is a collosal pain to wire all those frames.

    Dadant is the only commercial manufacturer, but Brushy Mt. also sells it with their label on it. The wax is in the online catalog. Although it's not in Dadant's catalog, people say that Dadant has plastic 4.9mm foundation. I agree I don't like wiring much. I never did any until I was doing 4.9mm. I always bought the foundation already wired or used Duracomb or RiteCell.

    As much work as wax coating my PermaComb is, I think it's still my best solution so far. It's already small and I don't have to wire it and I don't have to worry about the bees drawing it.

    >Michel, you say that in South America they use 4.8mm foundation. Do you know where they get it from and if it is wired?

    I said they use it in Africa. I don't know if they use it in South America. I don't know where to find some. I have been trying to track some down. I'd like to experiment with it and see if already regressed bees would use it. If anyone has found some 4.8mm, I'd love to know where to by it.

  12. #12
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    May 2003
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    Michael,
    On page 25 in the Dadant 2003 catalog it says that small raised cell plastic would be available in spring 2003 for $1.69 each. Whether or not it arrived I don't know as I haven't tried to order any.

    Marty

  13. #13
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    Then you can do small cell and don't have to wire.

  14. #14
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    Feb 2001
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    Enfield,Ct.
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    I recieved my order of plastic small cell from Dadant 1st week in April. Started two packages of Italians on it about 4/15.Tough to get the bees to draw out good brood frames.I would say about 75% is no good,with cross comb,bulging honey cells and unattached comb between two frames.Has anyone had any luck getting bees to draw out plastic a second time?Do I scrape it or melt off the old comb?I haven't used plastic foundation long enough to recycle any.

    Jack

  15. #15
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    If it's really bad I'd scrape it and wax coat it. Wax coating really helps acceptance.

  16. #16
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    Is it really necessary to wire Brood foundation, I have found that after a few hatchings of brood that the comb becomes tough as old rope, but then the frames most in use here are 14X8, much smaller than what is used in the US and less likely to sag.

    ------------------
    Richie

  17. #17
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    I haven't had problems with brood sagging once it's drawn. Honey comb in a deep frame can sag from the weight and the heat, but brood isn't that heavy. The main reason I wire it at all (and I only put a "X" on it usually) is just to keep it flat until they draw it. Of course they will fill some of the brood frames with honey and those might sag some from the heat. I've used mediums (6 1/4" frames) with no wire and even extracted them if I was gentle. I haven't seen them sag once they are drawn. But then, I don't live in New Mexico or Arizona or Georgia. It might be a bigger problem there.

  18. #18
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    >Has anyone had any luck getting bees to draw out plastic a second time?Do I scrape it or melt off the old comb?

    I keep scraping it off and spraying with syrup/HBH. It takes some time but eventuly the frame gets drawn, but from the sides of the problem area. I spray all my foundation with HBH.

    Over time they will remove and rebuild the wax until it is acceptable to them and hopefully you too.

    Bill

  19. #19
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    Well I mentioned before that I ran into some small looking bees in a mating nuc. Think I found the colony today that the nuc was pulled from. The bees seem to be about 75% the size of "normal" bees on the average.....they do seem to be consistently small whereas I have noticed that most of the colonies have a range of small, medium and large workers. Any idea why these little buggers are so small? This colony isnt any different looking than all the rest from what I can tell. However, I havent spent much time looking at cell size or the size of workers in the past so maybe this is normal and I am just noticing now.

  20. #20
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    Did they come from one of your colonies or a feral swarm? or somwhere else? I have some feral bees that someone hived that are that small. Usually they get bigger on larger foundation.

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