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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    306

    Default Breaking Brood Cycle - How is it done?

    After reading through many of the articles that mention this management technique I am still not 100% clear how you apply this to your hives. I understand why breaking the brood cycle works in denting the growth curve of mites. But how do you apply this management technique to your production hives? Do you actually take the queen out of a production hive (and if so, when?) and replace her with a queen cell or virgin queen? Or do you raise nucs with the intent to replace hives that will crash due to mites, which would actually not meet the "breaking the breeding cycle criteria. It seems many on here describes how they raise queens or nucs but than simply state they use them to "break the breeding cycle" to help in the control of varroa. Can you please describe the NEXT steps once you have a queen cell or virgin queen? Maybe I'm just more thick than usual in this... :-) Thanks in advance for your posts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Windsor,NC,USA
    Posts
    285

    Default

    Swarms are a natural occuring break in the brood cycle. Therefore, shook swarms would be a manmade equivalent. I have heard of removing the queen from a colony that is on the verge of swarming. This would provide that break in the brood cycle as well as help to reduce the swarm instinct. If timed properly, just before the main flow, but after the colony has reached a maximum population, and the moon is right, it would reduce the amount of honey hungry young brood and therefore you have more honey being stored away. Using drone comb may be a way to control the mite population, but it seems wasteful to me not to have the queen laying worker brood as hard as she can. Big colonies store up lots of honey, drones only consume it. I have not tried the drone comb strategy for reducing mites so I can't argue any points one way or another. It does seem more appropriate than using chemicals. Hopefully, with every new generation of queens there will be an increase of mite resistant genes or behaviors as natural selection will dictate that only the strong survive. Given no other attacks, probably the bees would evolve on thier own, but throw in pesticides, reduced natural forest and plant species, climate changes, and other natural parasites and diseases, and the balance is not in favor of the bees. If mites cause a colony to crash in two years, and it issues two swarms during those two years(one per year), but one dies out from starvation, and the other to pesticides or disease during the next year, how many colonies will there be in 10 years? Does this sound too far fetched?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Default

    Using a push in cage to confine her works.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Good question- I have wondered about this as well specifically in regards to varroa mite control.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Brevard county Fla
    Posts
    46

    Default

    If you confine her would the workers see that as a non-laying, non-productive queen and try to supersede her ? Or would the eggs be too old by the time they realized that she was not laying ?
    Regards
    Mike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Another good question, mike.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    306

    Default

    Guys - maybe I wasn't clear enough. I understand the different techniques used. I am more interested in how you do it, what technique you use, why, and when. Specifically on your production hives. Taking a queen out, or confining her egg laying, won't that impact your hive strength for winter? What about your honey harvest? Maybe I'm just missing some really obvious point here...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Kerikeri, New Zealand
    Posts
    69

    Default

    We requeen all our hives annually in the late summer/autumn with a protected queen cell. The cell usually goes in when the honey comes off. This is also the preferred time to split, just divide the brood ~60/40 and put a protected cell in each half. 3-4 weeks after inserting the cell is ideal to check that mating has occurred. With this timing it's real easy to check if a new queen is up and going, and if not, a failure hasn't gone backwards enough that inserting a queen isn't sufficient to fix it. We've transitioned from Italian to Carni stock because they create their own brood break in late autumn. Queen cells in March (2-3 week brood break), new queen lays april and tapers off through May, ~6 week of minimal/no brood june into july before ramping back up in august.

  9. #9

    Default

    Marc -

    I practice this technique as part of my swarm management.
    In a super strong, ready to swarm colony I pull the queen and two or three frames of brood in all stages and put them into a nuc (plus a frame of honey and pollen at least and probably add one frame of foundation). all frames are replaced with new wired wax foundation outside of the new cluster area, usually in positions 2 and 8 in each of the boxes (this satisfies my requirement of replacing all comb in the hive in a 5 year rotation - date your frames with sharpie marker)
    The nuc can then be fed if necessary, depending on the resources you provide - the parent colonies rears a new queen from queen cells it has already started (cut these down to one or two) or maybe even rears a queen from egg if you perform this maneuver before queen cells are started.
    Remember if you move the nuc within the same apiary it will lose its foraging force back to the parent colony so you definitely need to feed.
    You can treat this nuc colony with apilife var or whatever you want if you feel that the might load is high.
    In my neck of the woods I perform this manipulation in early-mid May. An early year we would be looking at the end of April.

    The nuc I then expand out into 10 frame equipment after a couple of weeks when they are "feeling" strong but before they get crowded.

    If, by chance the old "parent" colony at week 3-4 still does not have a laying queen, I re-combine the nuc to the parent via newspapaer method.

    I hope this helps.

    -Erin
    Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper
    overlandhoney.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Default

    <Guys - maybe I wasn't clear enough. I understand the different techniques used. I am more interested in how you do it, what technique you use, why, and when. Specifically on your production hives. Taking a queen out, or confining her egg laying, won't that impact your hive strength for winter? What about your honey harvest? Maybe I'm just missing some really obvious point here...>



    Check out Walt Wright's two articles "Apply Survival traits of Honey Bees for Swarm Prevention ......" ABJ Feb., 2002 and March 2002. There are links to these here on BeeSource.

    If you study the reproduction cycle Walt describes, you will find that there is a natural reduction in brood production just before the main honey flow. That is an optimum time to do whatever manipulations you choose to break the brood cycle. There is also much in the literature and many discussions in the forum about the advantages of having no brood in the hive during peak honey flow as far as increasing production. Once brood rearing resumes, bees have the capability of building back up incredably fast, especially if it is a strong hive to start with.

    Four or five year ago I tried a techniqe for building a cell raising hive using a two hive system. The technique involved keeping one queenright hive and one queenless hive back to back, moving frames of unsealed brood above a queen excluder until all were sealed, then transfering them to the queenless hive. I abandoned the system because it was very labor intensive, but what I discoverd was that it virtually eliminated varroa and resulted in extrordinarily strong hives in both boxes. The technique is described in either "Breeding Super Bees by Steve Taber, or in Dr. Laidlaw's book on queen rearing, I can't remember which one. It might be an excellent approach to varroa control for a small time beekeeper
    with just a few hives for honey production, but far too labor intensive for the typical comercial or migratory operation.
    doug

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    edmonds, WA, USA
    Posts
    348

    Default

    I have also noticed this slow down in brood rearing just prior to the main flow. Since the queen is slowing down anyway, I plan to remove all my queens 1 week prior to our main flow. I may give queen cells at this time or just let them raise queens if the extra 10 days will kill significantly more mites? I will assess the new queens when they are laying. I will replace most or all of them with queens I will be rearing myself. These new queens, introduced in july, will lay in abundance so that colonys will go into winter with plenty of young bees. I plan to do this with all colonys simultaneously (accept mating nucs) so that there wont be any highly infested hives around to reinfect the others. One question I have is how many mites are likely to remain in the colony after a month of being queenless? Thanks.

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