My own opinion is that it is a very bad idea to go requeening everything you have without knowing more about the bee over a period of time. Otherwise, you can end up with all bees that are not what you really want. It is usually best to slowly work your way towards stock improvement and new lines.
In my part of the world, I am fairly confident that virtually all bees in trees are swarms from managed colonies but in more isolated areas you might find a good feral colony. You might also find that the feral colony is of a smaller size and has some other natural mite resistance.....all potentially good things to perhaps keep around.
But remember the other side, nature only selects for the minimum requirements to survive. Other traits by which beekeepers traditionally judge bees......Surplus honey, pollen stores, defensive behavior, steadiness on combs, comb building, brood pattern, etc, etc, etc, may or may not exist in a feral colony. Having numerous traits which you desire to be expressed tends to come thru intense selection pressure over an extended period of time.
Wineman's comments are good here. Also if you requeen all stock from just one queen you have just limited yourself to one line. If the bees survive the three years it takes to usually estabish on 4.9 why toss them to the wayside? Each and eveyone has some value. Remember starting small one needs to avoid inbreeding. Maintain as many stock as possible to give a broad base to work with.
You have very good points here. I do have a tendency to rush things, so your advice is very wellcome. Thanks
Hello again Jorge
I have the same issue to deal with that you mentioned: I wanted my bees to bee downsized yesterday, not a year or two from now. But I bit the bullet and installed full frames of 4.9 foundation, and cycled the poorly drawn frames out (after the brood was all hatched out) to be returned later as storage frames only. It is now a few years later, and I have 15 colonies drawing nicely formed 4.9 cells. It took time, but it is worth it. I just last week put in the first frames with starter strips, and am anxious to see how well they do with them. I put in some with wires, and some without, and will see if that makes a difference.
The experiment I am running with the Housel Positioning is producing very pleasing results. I have had only one poorly drawn frame, and that because it was linked to some burr comb that was drawn out on the adjacent comb, and which distorted the comb on the new foundation. All else is much better than I have ever gotten before. Every other comb is well formed. I certainly will continue with this practice.
and is the varroa situation controlled? Do you fog or treat any other way, or are the small cells you finally got enough to keep them under control?
With small cell and culling drone cells to 10% on any one frame you can gain two advantages.
>1) The varroa will be hard pressed to be able to reproduce in the smaller worker cells due to less Juvenile growth hormone present, to trigger their reproduction, as any female mites enter and take their first blood meal.
Question: Can you explain more or point me to additional background on the growth hormone question. I am trying to better grasp the cell size concept and the interactions that take place. I am interested in background on the interaction of the juvenile growth hormone and Varoa. Also, is there a relationship to the speed of development (pupation period?) and level juvenile growth hormone present or is it primarily acting on bee size? (or the reverse)
My understanding was the Varoa lays eggs at a rather constant rate after the cell is capped. Therefor the pupation time impacts the ability of the Varoa to reproduce. Are you suggesting the juvenile growth hormone impacts the ability or rate that Varoa lay eggs?
Hope this makes sense.
On a tangential topic is this one of the mechanisms africanized bees use to avoid Varoa. My understanding is there pupation time for workers is something like 16 days?
I have seen studies on why the Africanized bees and African bees can fight the varroa and almost all of the differences noted between African and Eropean bees are really differnces to do with cell size. I observed my bees in my observation hive. I carefully noted when the queen started laying and when those cells were capped and when they emerged. I have 4.95mm cell size currently and the workers emerged a day early. According to Dee Lusby when you get to 4.85mm they will emerge two days early.
I've also seen studies that there is less room for the mites to find each other and reproduce. Most of these studies are centered around African bees but most of the differences are really due to cell size.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited July 09, 2003).]
My numbers may not be correct as I'm going from memory from a recent class. The mite reproduction rate as a multiple goes from 1.1 to 1.3 reproduction cycles in a worker cell and increases to 1.6 to 1.9 for a worker cell. The numbers may be off but it shows the increase in just a few extra days that the mite has to reproduce in the drone cells. Does not seem like much until you start thinking in the hundreds and thousands.
Anything, i.e., african bees/small cell, that accelerates the bees emerging from the cell cuts the mutliple factor of mite reproduction cycle.