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Thread: drone brood

  1. #1
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    i'm very new to beekeeping. i've been reading lots and lots of info trying to help my level of knowledge bypass my lack of experience. i'm wanting to try freezing drone brood to stymie the varroa mites. i understand drone brood is usually in a larger sized cell. how do i get my bees to build strictly drone brood so that i can remove and freeze the entire frame? is there a different sized foundation to use? thinking that, i'm worried that i may have installed the wrong foundations in all of my frames. my bees were on severe back order because i ordered them late. they've been hived for almost 2 weeks.
    -M@

  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    Washington County, NY
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    Why get rid of drone brood? I understand wanting to reduce varroa, but being a newbee also, here are my questions:
    a) Won't the bees just make more drones if they deem it necessary to have X amount of them?
    b) Wouldn't a newly hived package be relatively varroa 'safe' at least for a little while?

  3. #3
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    Mar 2006
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    Heavener Oklahoma
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    NewBeeMatt...... check the box that your foundation came in if you dont have that check your invoice to see what foundation you have.A package will not really need to draw out drone foundation.You need them to build worker cell foundation so the colonie will build up.later in the fall get some drone foundation from dadants or put in a empty frame on the side or put a shallow frame into full hive body and they will almost always build a strip of drone comb at the bottom of the shallow frame this will have plenty of drones to trape mites

  4. #4
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    Aug 2002
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    >how do i get my bees to build strictly drone brood so that i can remove and freeze the entire frame?

    Buy drone foundation. Generally if you have nothing but worker foundation in the hive, adding an empty frame in the brood nest will result in a frame of drone brood.

    > is there a different sized foundation to use?

    Yes. It's 6.6mm foundation.

    >thinking that, i'm worried that i may have installed the wrong foundations in all of my frames. my bees were on severe back order because i ordered them late. they've been hived for almost 2 weeks.

    Standard foundation is 5.4mm. This is at the top end of worker cells. It probably IS the "wrong" foundation, in that it enables the varroa to reproduce more, but it's what the majority of beekeepers have been using the last 50 years or so. Personally I'd buy 4.9mm or none.

    >a) Won't the bees just make more drones if they deem it necessary to have X amount of them?

    Yes they will.

    >b) Wouldn't a newly hived package be relatively varroa 'safe' at least for a little while?

    Maybe. I wouldn't count on it, but I also wouldn't waste the resources on the Drone magnet method. I'd go to small cell or natural sized cell. I was going to do drone magnet as a fall back if that didn't work but it did. I think powdered sugar is a good fall back position and will cost the bees less resources.

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

    But if you really want to do drone trapping, the concept is that the varroa prefer drone brood and so there will be more varroa in the capped drone brood than the capped worker brood. Freezing kills these varroa (and the drones).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    May 2006
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    ok, i got all my equipment from my uncle who's wife has decided that his hobbies are not a productive way to spend his time hahaha so i just got a whole pick up truck worth of equipment !! i'm starting with one hive this year and will prolly have 4 next spring using his equipment. he kept bees on and off for years. some years he had great harvests, others were so so. he mentioned freezing frames before storing them, but hadnt heard of the mite trapping. i have several stacks of foundation, and i havent noticed any label anywhere on any of the packages that mentions the size. right now i notice that the bees are building comb and filling it with nectar and honey. but i havent spotted any eggs but i see the queen looking in cells. so i guess i just havent gotten the eye for it yet. i have a top feeder on now that they have emptied about 3/4gallon of syrup from since they were installed about 2 weeks ago. i was thinking about removing it now since there are lots of blooms happening now, but i want to help them build up fast because of the late start. i wasnt planning on doing any freezing until later on, but since i'd be swapping out the frames once i started, i wanted to be sure i have a couple drone frames already established. i've ordered a screened bottom board and plan on doing the PS dusting too. but i figured that if they are going to have drones, i might as well get them to focus them where i want them. then if mite populations seem to be on the rise i could couple the PS method with the drone trapping. i also have(dare i say it) apistan strips in case i cant seem to keep a handle on the mites any other way. but i really only want to use them as a last resort.
    -M@

  6. #6
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    ok... i havent had a chance to actually check the size of the foundation i'm using that was given to me, but i suspect it's 5.4mm. i'm now thinking about going 4.9 for Regression. i have my bees in one deep body now and am looking to add the 2nd in a couple of weeks i'm guessing. my question is, if i order some 4.9's and fill the frames on the hive body i'm going to install next, will the bees take to that readily? from what i've read, seems they will be a bit mixed up at 1st. is this bad timing to start regression, or is earlier better? and if/when i'm able to get my bees fully regressed, would standard sized 5.4 foundation then be the drone foundation since the bees are then a bit smaller? i'm still trying to fully grasp how Regression works exactly.
    -M@

  7. #7
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    >if i order some 4.9's and fill the frames on the hive body i'm going to install next, will the bees take to that readily?

    They will build it. Probably a bit uneven and probably about 5.1mm cells.

    > from what i've read, seems they will be a bit mixed up at 1st.

    Because they aren't ready yet for 4.9mm. You can buy a few sheets of 5.1mm from Dadant for the first step, or you can use starter strips.

    > is this bad timing to start regression, or is earlier better?

    Earlier is better, but anytime is the right time to use the right sized foundation (4.9mm) instead of the wrong size (5.4mm).

    > and if/when i'm able to get my bees fully regressed, would standard sized 5.4 foundation then be the drone foundation since the bees are then a bit smaller?

    Not really. 5.9mm would be close, but natural sized bees seem to build a lot of variety of drone cells from 5.9mm to 7.2mm.

    > i'm still trying to fully grasp how Regression works exactly.

    An artificially enlarged bee (a bee raised on normal foundation) is wanting to draw smaller comb but their size seems to interfere with how small. They seem willing enough to draw about 5.1mm (if they were on 5.4mm) but unable or unwilling to draw 4.9mm. The bees raised on 5.1mm comb seem willing to draw 4.9mm. The bees raised on 4.9mm seem willing to draw as small as 4.7mm or even 4.4mm sometimes. Bees on Pierco (which is about 5.2mm) seem willing to do the 4.9mm off the bat or at least build it about 5.0mm or so.

    It's just a matter of a couple of steps instead of one, but if you let them, the bees will regress. I just do foundationless and let them do what they want and they still regress.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
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    Wow ! that is a major help, thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions. one more thing that just popped in my head....

    i've read that because of varroa, our feral populations are extremely low. Wouldnt feral bees naturally build small cell? if feral bees draw out small cell comb, and small cell comb is believed to help keep the mites in check, then why is it that the feral populations have so much trouble on their own concerning Varroa?
    -M@

  9. #9
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    actually, i just took a look at your website and you answer the question there. some of that was what i was already suspecting after you answered my last post. if domestic bees swarm, and go feral, they are not fully regressed, so they would not be building small cell, and since no one removes the 'in between' size comb to allow the next brood to rebuild even smaller comb, regression is never completed until that colony swarms and goes on to build new brood comb, and possibly still not building true small cell until that swarm splits and swarms again.... if it survies that long. looks like small cell is the way to go for me!
    -M@

  10. #10
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    You probably found this on the web site under Natural Cell Size, but here's my answer:

    Question:

    If natural/small cell size will control Varroa, why did all the feral bees die off?

    Answer:

    The problem is that this question typically 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. The population of feral bees was kept high be a lot of recent escapees and those escapees often survived. 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 fully regressed and often die in the first year or two.

    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

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