Has anyone not had good luck with small cell to control varroa?
Has anyone not had good luck with small cell to control varroa?
Recent research suggests that small cell isn't effective in controlling varroa.
It seems that the people making claims here on BS that have good results are the ones that not only use small cell but have other commonalities like using soft or NO treatments, IPM, etc. Surely the management style of beekeepers has a greater impact on the survivability of their bees, but does it come down to any one aspect? I think not. It comes down to our philosophy, management style, and luck.
Bill I believe there was a post made not to long ago with Jennifers report to date on the SC Study underway at UGA. And if memory serves me, which can often be questionable, what was said was that there are more bees in the SC hives while the inverse is true of the LC hives. And that the mite loads followed the number of bees. So it seemed to be a wash. There was no significant evidence that would suggest that there was any advantage gained by the use of SC.
Anyone please jump in here and correct any part or all of what I've said. But I believe this to be pretty much the case. They do still have a little way to go to complete the study, so I wouldn't be to quick to jump to conclusions just yet. But as beeman said, it doesn't look hopeful.
Although only one study, as Bullseye indicates, it still strongly suggests that small cell isn't effective in controlling varroa.
>Recent research suggests that small cell isn't effective in controlling varroa.
So far Jennifer Berry's study is not completed, but it has shown no statistical difference, but it has only been going a year and none of the hives have any significant mite load. The proof is in the pudding. Let's see what it looks like in another year or two or three. Besides, mite counts aren't the real issue. Survival is.
What I do know is with small cell I can't even find one mite on my trays to show people when I have a field day at my beeyard and I haven't treated any of them at all since 2003 and some of them since 2001. And in the spring the inspector can't either:
I'd be more interested in actual results than what research has to say. Most research isn't conducted in the way that mirrors actual practice. If small cell works as part of IPM, great. If people can control varroa on large cell with IPM, great. Reasearch is conducted to answer a question, not to solve a problem.
I'd be more interested in the impact of the mites than the numbers. If small cell allows hives to have more mites without affecting their viability, then the mite count isn't relevant. We're all interested in production and survival. If hives could do both well with a billion mites, we wouldn't care...it's the impact of the mites on these two factors that generate all the concern.
If something allows the bees to go on with business as usual regardless of the mite count, IMHO, that's effective.
I stand on my beliefs that some combination of management, cell size, IPM, and NO treatments are leading to hives that can live with some level of mites.
It was refreshing to hear Dr. Skip Taylor at the Kansas Honey Producers meeting last week tell the members that we have to get off the chemical treatment bandwagon and let nature solve our mite problems.
At HAS Jennifer Berry reported that the UGA study is complete. The report is the conclusion of the study. However she did say that they wouldn't make any conclusions like, "it dosen't work". She just reported what they did and what they found, which was a one year study that showed no significant difference in mite counts. They may have another study in the works, but I don't know.
Mite counts are a good way to measure treatment (small cell etc.) effects. For the cited study they count mites that fell, mites inside capped brood, and mites on worker bees with an alcohol wash.
If small cell works in IPM, then it should have some "measureable" effect on mite numbers. It dosen't have to be good enough to save hives without the other factors susch as soft treatments, etc. but it should still have a measuerable effect on its own. Such as screened bottom boards.
Last edited by TwT; 10-25-2007 at 09:27 AM.
Believe me, I am as disappointed as anyone. But the data are clear. Any beek plannig a conversion to small cell should consider the results of this study, in my opinion.
I have to agree, but keeping an open mind hopefully!
The bees were already regressed by Bill before they moved the to the beelab for study. So in my mind, if the question at hand is "whether or not small cell will reduce mite loads" not whether the bees will become more resistant to the mites over time. Then how long does it take to see the mites diminish? It's not the bees that need to overcome some change other than the fact that they start producing the small cell comb. Once that is accomplished, then the rest of the problem is that the mites will not be able to mature before the bees hatch in the smaller cell as it has been suggested. The issue of small cell comb as I see it, is a device not so much a behavior.
Michael B, I understand your drop in mite counts over time. I'll jump right in there with you in the need for the absence of treatment and more emphasis being put toward selection. I absolutely believe you when you say there are fewer mites. But can you say that given you have followed these practices, that small or natural cell has been a contributing factor to the success? I ask this in pure curiosity, do you still have any bees on "large" cell as I refer to it, that have undergone the same practice?
"For measuring long term survival, you would be correct. For relative mite infestations, several brood cycles should be sufficient to determine if there is any difference. A year is plenty long enough."
Oops, think I kinda said what you already had Dan. Shoulda paid better attention to your post! Sorry!
>If small cell works in IPM, then it should have some "measureable" effect on mite numbers. It dosen't have to be good enough to save hives without the other factors susch as soft treatments, etc. but it should still have a measuerable effect on its own. Such as screened bottom boards.
With drifting and having all of them (large and small cell) in the same yard there may not be as much difference as you might think as drifting drones even out the mite populations throughout the beeyard.
>Michael B, I understand your drop in mite counts over time. I'll jump right in there with you in the need for the absence of treatment and more emphasis being put toward selection. I absolutely believe you when you say there are fewer mites. But can you say that given you have followed these practices, that small or natural cell has been a contributing factor to the success?
I (and Barry and BWranger and others) have seen that drop in mite levels when still keeping the same genetics on simple commercial queens of common varieties of bees. But I think selection can help in many ways and so I have moved to feral survivors. That's as much as anything because they are acclimatized to my area.
> I ask this in pure curiosity, do you still have any bees on "large" cell as I refer to it, that have undergone the same practice?
I end up with some large cell bees from time to time. I regress them as quickly as I can. So I have none for any period of time, no.
I don't think you can say only one thing is involved. Certainly if you quit treating you are also breeding Varroa mites that are more adapted to the bees as well as breeding bees that are more adapted to the mites.
As long as you treat you keep breeding super mites and weak bees.
Sorry Michael, I simply don't buy that drift evens out the mite numbers in yards. There are studies looking directly at drift and show that it doesn't have a big effect on mite numbers. I can find that and send it to you if requested. There are also studies that look at treatments that show you have different, significant levels of mites in different hives in the same yard due to treatments. I've also seen a big variety of mite numbers in my yard, not as part of any study, just observing the effect of breaks in brood cycle.