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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Hampton, Georgia
    Posts
    68

    Question

    After a nearly twenty years out I am considering getting a couple hives set up. I'm still on the fence at the moment and may put it off for a year to spread the set up costs over time. I have been reading and studying as much as I can. I have decided that I want to run with a minimalist approach. Minimal manipulations and medications and hopefully minimal problems with maximum production LOL. Let me outline my thinking and welcome comments from the peanut gallery. Please kibitz all you want I'm trying to learn here.

    1. Obtain as resistant strain of bee as possible. Resistant to what? Varroa of course but hopefully TM, SHB, PMS and the whole slough of pestilence out there today.

    On this I am unsure as to the various claims made about SMR, Hygienic, Russian, Feral survivor, Small Cell et al. Race is secondary, though I lean toward italian as they are what I am familiar with and what ever I get will invariably be compared to what I had in the past. Disease aside, what I desire are bees that are predictably gentle. Tempermental and unpredictable are a frustration I want to avoid. Definitely not prone to swarm at the drop of a hat. The italians I am familiar with had three faults. I really think they are related. Extremely fertile creating huge colonies willing to swarm at any time of the season. I have seen one hive throw three swarms in one season AND still be strong enough to survive the winter. That's two, and third is a willingness to rob if a careless beek let them get a whiff of free honey. The things I liked were the sheer predictability of the italian. I think the books I read were based on italians or they could read LOL. Gentle and productive as a rule. My ideal bee would be an italian with all the good traits reported in the SMR (mite suppression), Hygienic (cleaning out infected brood), and Russian (tolerance to mites and PMS) with the traits mentioned above toned down to some degree.

    2. Start these bees out on small cell, either foundation or starter strips and keep them on it.

    I have no idea on this whole regression process. I assume it is the removal of comb that does not have the prequisite percentage of cells that fall into a set size range (4.7?-5.0?) until such time as all comb falls into the indicated range. As this is happening and with each subsequent brood cycle the bees will regress naturally, I assume.

    3. Consider having a few frames of drone comb drawn out for varroa control. At least until such time as small cell is achieved. Of course may not be needed if varroa is not present (yeah right, not according to what I hear).

    4. Screened Bottom Boards on all hives at all times with sticky boards. Monitor these boards religiously for mite counts.

    Unsure as to whether close or open for winter. I guess I will decide when the time comes. Hives will be raised off the ground on a site built rack (two 4x4s set on posts 18" above the ground)

    5. Determine what level of mite count requires immediate treatment and what can be kept in check.

    Here I am unsure if any is to many or if there is a magic number. I guess the health of the hive and time of year would have a large bearing on this.

    6. Determine the forms of treatments I am willing to use for the various threats to the health of the hive.

    Here I am pretty firm in that want to adopt the hippocratic principle of not making things worse. Now define worse LOL. Not having hands on experience I with hold judgement on chemicals just that I feel that throwing chemicals at the problem is not the answer. This applies across the board to most problems in this country. We're to quick to run to the doctor for the latest greatest miracle drug, but that's another topic.
    So far here is the way I'm leaning menthol spring/fall for TM. Undecided at the moment about grease patties due to potential conflict with SHB control. A regimented treatment for VM until such time that SC/resistance shows treatment can be discontinued or reserved for severe problems (if the decision is made to "save" the colony). At no time will this treatment consist of chemicals I would be afraid to eat in the amounts found in the hive. Oxalic seems to be the way I'm leaning until I learn more about fogging FGMO. The cords seem more reasonable but am unsure of thymol at the moment. I need more information on formic acid before I can form an opinion. It is possible that I would combine two or more methods if needed.
    SHB would need to be dealt with so I am considering a defense in depth. Begin with traps at the outer limits of my property covering the perimeter. Entrance traps at the hive to hopefully intercept beetles entering or exiting the hive. Ground drench to get those that hatch inside the hive. Doing everything to keep a strong colony. The cardboard on the bottom board seems to interfere with the SBB concept. In light of my studies I have an idea or two that I wish to experiment with once the hives are in place. This is one area where I really don't like the recommended treatment. As further control a freezer will be dedicated for the storage of frames and supers (I intend to stay small). As additional control I would like to look into smaller entrances above the bottom board.

    7. Decide what is an acceptable loss rate.

    Bees die from causes other than mites. Is it possible to keep my losses to a level they were twenty years ago? If not how much is to much?

    8. Do I treat for AFB/EFB and Nosema?

    Twenty years ago I didn't and never had a case of either FB. From my readings teramycin is a preventative NOT a cure. So far I doubt I will bother, but will keep the matches handy just in case. Nosema was treated on a as needed basis, I think I will continue that practice.

    9. Checkerboarding makes sense at least on a gut level.

    Sure beats cutting swarm cells. Yes that was the accepted practice in my area twenty years ago. I never could figure out why that stopped swarming if they were determined to rebuild the cells as fast as I destroyed them. Reversing deeps on a regular basis is a pain in my buttocks. In light of Walt's research I will run a shallow/deep/shallow (I can't break the two sizes habit even though everyone else has LOL). I will also experiment with going excluderless.

    10. Requeen or not.

    In the good old days we didn't (well some did). The bees could be counted on to produce a decent queen and swarms were always available. It ain't so today. Though there is the thought of allowing her majesty to date the local boys (yes there are a few of them left) to see if they have something going on that makes them the last man standing. This gets into the whole queen breeding thing and needs more study. Until I do the required reading I will requeen.

    [size="1"][ December 18, 2005, 12:17 AM: Message edited by: warrior ][/size]
    Georgia Wildlife Services, Inc
    www.atlantawildliferemoval.net

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    >1. Obtain as resistant strain of bee

    And of course the old standbys of AFB, EFB, Chaulkbrood etc.

    One way is just open mate your own queens, don't treat and if you find symptoms of something, try to get some stock that has resistance. The ferals may be better genetics for resitatnce than anything you buy and the local ferals will be acclimatized to your climate.

    >I lean toward italian as they are what I am familiar with

    But, other than some "hygenic" Italalians, I don't know of anyone claiming much resistance. Maybe Weaver, but some would say that's from other genetic sources.

    >Disease aside, what I desire are bees that are predictably gentle.

    Any breed of bees can turn mean, but most commercial stocks seldom do.

    >Definitely not prone to swarm at the drop of a hat.

    I think all bees are prone to swarm. It's what they do and what you have to manage to avoid. But then I also think all bees are pretty easy to manage in such a way that they don't swarm.

    >The italians I am familiar with had three faults.

    Which is why I wonder at people saying Carnis are prone to swarm. Sure. Any bees that suddenly have a population exposion at the right time of year are prone to swarm but Italians are always raising large numbers of bees.

    >That's two, and third is a willingness to rob

    I agree the Italians may be worse, but they all seem willing to rob if they are strong and another hive is weak.

    >The things I liked were the sheer predictability of the italian. I think the books I read were based on italians or they could read

    Pretty much all the books were about Italians. [img]smile.gif[/img] And they do seem a bit more predictable.

    >Gentle and productive as a rule.

    Yes. But the same can be said of other breeds.

    >My ideal bee would be an italian with all the good traits reported...

    Start breeding it. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >2. Start these bees out on small cell, either foundation or starter strips and keep them on it.

    Sounds like a start.

    >I assume it is the removal of comb that does not have the prequisite percentage of cells that fall into a set size range (4.7?-5.0?) until such time as all comb falls into the indicated range. As this is happening and with each subsequent brood cycle the bees will regress naturally, I assume.

    That's the way a lot of us have done it. And it really only needs to be in the brood nest. And for starters you can get by with only the center of the brood nest.

    >3. Consider having a few frames of drone comb drawn out for varroa control...Of course may not be needed if varroa is not present

    Varroa will be present. It's just a matter of degree. If you give them starter strips they will make enough drone for their needs. You can uncap a few to see how your Varroa counts are. If you have three or four purple mites in each pupa you have a severe infestation. If you only find one ocassionlly, you're doing pretty well. If you find a lot of them in a lot of drones, you can just use your ucapping fork and pull all the drones out to get rid of the mites in there drones.

    >4. Screened Bottom Boards on all hives at all times with sticky boards.

    At least for the first couple of years until you have a year of very stable, low counts. But you can get by with just a board. It doesn't have to be sticky. It will still give you an idea of what's happening with the mites to just count natural drop on a tray. You can also put some oil on the tray to help make the mites that fall stay.

    >Unsure as to whether close or open for winter. I guess I will decide when the time comes.

    In Alabama, I'd say it might work well either way. Maybe try a few of each. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >Hives will be raised off the ground on a site built rack (two 4x4s set on posts 18" above the ground)

    For skunks? The bees will do well, but that top super sure gets high. Around here they blow over sometimes when they are too tall. I've gone to four by fours on the ground and no botom entrances to make them shorter and keep the skunks/mice/possums out.

    >5. Determine what level of mite count requires immediate treatment and what can be kept in check.

    I'd look more at trends and proportions to the population than actual individual numbers. If the numbers are rapidly rising that's more cause for concern than any particular number.

    >Here I am unsure if any is to many or if there is a magic number.

    Any is normal. I don't think there is a magic number.

    >I guess the health of the hive and time of year would have a large bearing on this.

    The only prolblem with that is that the health of a booming hive sometimes crashes quite quickly from Varroa. But if you're counting mites you should see the numbers of mites climbing rapidly before you see that. That's one of the reasons you need to monitor the mites. By the time the health of the hive is obviously hurt, it's usually too far gone to save them. But if you monitor mites you can catch it ahead of time.

    >. Determine the forms of treatments I am willing to use for the various threats to the health of the hive.

    A personal decision. But personally, I'd stay away from stuff that accumulates in the wax. Especially Check mite and Apistan.

    >Here I am pretty firm in that want to adopt the hippocratic principle of not making things worse. Now define worse LOL.

    "do no harm"

    >So far here is the way I'm leaning menthol spring/fall for TM.

    Why not just get TM resistant bees? That has not been hard to breed for. I'd wait until you see symptoms and then treat and requeen. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >Undecided at the moment about grease patties due to potential conflict with SHB control.

    I'd still go for the TM resistant bees. Treating will just hide it if you don't.

    >A regimented treatment for VM until such time that SC/resistance shows treatment can be discontinued or reserved for severe problems (if the decision is made to "save" the colony). At no time will this treatment consist of chemicals I would be afraid to eat in the amounts found in the hive. Oxalic seems to be the way I'm leaning until I learn more about fogging FGMO.

    If you want to fog religiously while you're regressing and while your monitoring, that can work, but FGMO fog is not a treament you can use when the hive is already overun with mites and make much difference.

    >The cords seem more reasonable but am unsure of thymol at the moment.

    The cords are a lot of labor.

    >I need more information on formic acid before I can form an opinion.

    The loss of queens in a lot of the research and the temperature dependance are two things that scared me away. That and availability. The supplies that are not Food Grade often have lead in them in amounts I would not want in my honey.

    >It is possible that I would combine two or more methods if needed.

    Of course.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    >SHB would need to be dealt with so I am considering a defense in depth.

    Let us know how the SHB battel goes. Those of us who don't have any would like to be prepared.

    >7. Decide what is an acceptable loss rate.

    None. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >Bees die from causes other than mites. Is it possible to keep my losses to a level they were twenty years ago?

    I think so.

    >If not how much is to much?

    I think 10 percent is pretty typical here, but the winters are nasty here.

    >8. Do I treat for AFB/EFB and Nosema?

    I don't.

    >9. Checkerboarding makes sense at least on a gut level.

    Let us know how that works. I've only really put the empty frames in the brood nest. I may try the checkerboarding this next year, if I get the time and energy. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >Sure beats cutting swarm cells. Yes that was the accepted practice in my area twenty years ago.

    That's what the books said. [img]smile.gif[/img] I never got it to work. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    > I never could figure out why that stopped swarming if they were determined to rebuild the cells as fast as I destroyed them.

    >...I will run a shallow/deep/shallow

    Three mediums is about the same size. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    >I will also experiment with going excluderless.

    I've never regreteed it, but then I'm also running all the same size.

    >10. Requeen or not.
    In the good old days we didn't (well some did). The bees could be counted on to produce a decent queen and swarms were always available. It ain't so today. Though there is the thought of allowing her majesty to date the local boys (yes there are a few of them left) to see if they have something going on that makes them the last man standing. This gets into the whole queen breeding thing and needs more study. Until I do the required reading I will requeen.

    If you go chemicalless you'll find the queens will live as long as they used to and stay fertile for as long as three years typically and more sometimes.

    I'd breed to the locals. Or better yet catch some.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Hampton, Georgia
    Posts
    68

    Post

    Thanks, that's what I am looking for. Comments and thoughts on my musings. I see that in the years some pretty tough challenges has been put in the path of successful apuiculture. I am gladdened to see that these challenges are not insurmountable. Whether this coming year or the next it will be good to get my hands back into a hive of bees again.
    Georgia Wildlife Services, Inc
    www.atlantawildliferemoval.net

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