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  1. #1
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    Default What survivability rate can one expect on small cells without treatments?

    The middle of March 2009, I purchased two colonies, which I have split, and requeened, with purchased MHQ, and a supercedure MHQ queen cell and another with Weaver made queen (VSH). After removing this supercedure cell, that colony did no try to supercede again and is the one with 8 frames (colony #1). Three of these colonies are totally regressed, one covering 8 frames (colony #1), two covering 6 frames (coloney #2 and #3).

    The fourth colony (#4) is the supercedure queen I raised. After the queen hatched from large cells she laid eggs and had larva on 3 frames of the large cells, the rest were loaded with pollen and honey (some capped) before I found her. I moved her down on 2 fully drawn (with wax) small cell plastic frames along with 3 honeysupercells, separated her from the large cells with a queen excluder. Two weeks later she still had not laid in the small cells, and I could not find her. However, the bees had not made any queen cells on those eggs she had originally laid on the large cell frames. I pulled the queen excluder and she has now started laying again, a very nice pattern in the large cells. I have now marked her for easier spotting. After she fills these large cells with eggs, larva and sealed brood (which will be this week), I intend to push her back down, separate her with a queen excluder, provide another small cell frame with merging brood and see if I can get her to start laying in small cell. I will remove the large cell frames as the brood merges, which is about 8 frames of eggs, larva, sealed brood, honey and pollen. The remaining two frames are pollen and honey.

    Around the early part of April I caught a feral swarm (#5). These bees were dark, and smaller bees (obviously already regressed), and extremely gentle. I provided this swarm with small cell plastic frames and 3 honeysupercell frames. She immediatly began laying in the small honeysupercells and the bees began drawing the small cell plastic frames (from MannLakeLtd). They currently also cover about 8 frames now.

    I am not treating for mites or anything. Any comments concerning the above would be helpful.

    What I was wondering is what type of surviability rate one can expect for fully regressed bees without treatment.

    How much of the loss/success rate can be attributed to small cells and how much can be attributed to the hygienics of the bees?

    Danny

  2. #2
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    Apr 2003
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Default

    I'm not qualified to tell you that small cell is the answer. In fact, I don't bother to measure cells at all. I don't use foundation, so the bees draw what they need. I strongly feel that not using wax foundation is beneficial to my bees. I don't treat with anything and I seldom lose an established hive. I lost one of 50 this past winter. The adjacent hives did fine, so I assume something happened to the queen and they didn't have time to make another one. I think you can do just fine without treatments by naturalizing the bees a bit. I know, keeping bees in boxes with frames isn't natural, but other than the wood, everything else in my hives is produced by the bees.

  3. #3
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    Default Ross thanks for your reply and another question?

    You state that you do not supply foundation. Are you using Lang. boxes and frames or the top bar colonies. If you are using Lang. explain what you do to not provide foundation and how you keep your comb straight.

    Thanks very much for your input.
    Danny

  4. #4
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    Jul 2008
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    OKC, OK USA
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: NasalSponge

    Thanks for publishing Michaels sites. I have read these and my questions are not answered there. But, I have found his site offers the most (unbiased) information concerning the subject over any I have visited. I also have hopes that Michael will respond to this thread. I could have sent him an e-mail, but instead posted this thread as I believe this information is important in making decisions whether to go small cell or not. Obviously, small cell is the only way to go for me because I will not treat.

    Again, my special thanks to Ross for sharing his statistics concerning his non treated bees. But, did Ross start out with winners, or is his the result of years of losses and finally getting a selection that survives. Does one's success depend upon buying survivor queens, like Purvis and/or many of the others who provide these queens? Also, will the survivor bees low producers of honey or can you have both, healthy bees and great honey production. Did Ross have bees prior to the varroa destructor problem; and if so, can he compare honey production now to then?

    My question is important, because it would be nice to know how much of the survivability of the small cell is based upon small cell, and how much on the genetics of the bees. If 90% is natural (small) cell size then productivity should not be affected. But, if 90% is based upon hygienic genetic behaviour, then this certainly could affect production.

    Thanks again
    Danny

  6. #6
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    May 2009
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    Default

    there are a few studies out therethat say the mite load is the same regaurdless...... Its a tough study as each colony is so different.

    I let mine pick the cell size also, I use no foundations mostly. Surviibility of mites is a question almost impossible to answer as there are so many variables. sell size is only one... Hygenic behavior, drone manipulation, weather, and others all play into it.

    I would get some drone comb and some powdered sugar.. useing these 2 methods I haven't lost a colony in 3 years to mites.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default

    My mite loads are almost immeasurably small in the spring and not much more in the fall. Here is what the inspector found the last five springs:

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

    When I was on large cell and treating I was losing about 100% of the bees about once every two years. When I was on large cell and not treating I was losing about 100% of the bees once every two years. So I don't see the point in either of those.

    Since I've regressed my losses have fallen well below that. But I still have more losses than I had back in the 70's and 80's before all the recent issues came up. However the losses back on large cell were almost consistently Varroa. There were literally tens of thousands of dead Varroa on the bottom boards of the dead hives. Since I regressed I am lucky to find one or two if I really look.

    It's hard to say exactly what losses are due to other things as it varies by winter. I always lose more in a hard winter (-20 F or so for a week or more) than a mild one. A really long confinement (which is rare here) always results in more losses than a winter with some warm days that they can do cleansing flights in the middle of winter. Years where the weather fools them into rearing brood too soon can lead to getting stuck on the brood and starving with stores just out of reach or other years they can rear brood because of the weather and just run out of food. Small cell/natural cell makes little difference for any of these issues.

    I'm just glad to be back to trying to keep them from starving and not worrying about Varroa.

    So if your question is will you have more losses by not treating? That has not been my experience. Treating or not treating I had the same results on large cell. Will you have more losses by regressing and not treating? That has not been my experience. I've had less losses.

    Will you have losses? As long as you continue to keep bees, yes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
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    Default GMCharlie Response

    GMCharlie:
    Thanks so much for you imput. My reason for starting this thread was so this information could be shared by all. After I respond to Michael's response I will share my experience so far concerning varroa destructor, which I was hesitant to do as I did not want to be called a liar.

    First Charlie let me say, I hesitate to use the powdered sugar unless I have determined that I have a problem, and maybe not even then. I want to raise survivors, but also bees that can produce honey. As my colonies grow I intend to use the drone cells, especially as a means of monitoring mite populations (and also hygienic behavior) by statistically inspecting the brood for mites.

    Let me also say this, that the studies which I have read which have been done on the Russian and Asiatic bees (Apis indica, Apis dorsata and Apis mellifera), show low infestation rates on workers but high infestation of drones, 80% in some cases. 80% infestation on drones would not be catastrophic but certainly would be on workers as is occurring in this country. Regarding the studies done in this country concerning small cell, it seems that the larva would have to be examined to determine viability of a colony and not just mite counts, as high mite counts as the result of drone infestation would not be catastrophic, but the same could not be said concerning workers. Also, I don't trust studies funded by the Chemical companies which stand to profit from continued treatments.

    Thanks again
    Danny
    Thanks again Charlie, as I think that it is important to share our management techniques and our successes and failures.

    Danny

  9. #9
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    Default Michael's Response

    As usual Michael your observations are always appreciated. With regard to your losses, these will probably not be as relevant to our area since our temperatures rarely hit 10 F. However, I do take not that you mention that your losses are greater than during the 70s and 80s.

    Now, let me share my observations. I am using screened bottom boards with trays on all five of my colonies. As I check my bees, by pulling the frames, my son takes pictures of each of the frames, front and back. I download these pictures, and then I can zoom in and examine the bees. Currently our bee populations are not extremely large on any of our colonies. I have never observed any mites on any of our bees. Varroa destructor are supposed to be visable to the naked eye, but I zoom in to the pictures and much larger and even hairs on the bees can be observed.

    I also make close examinations of the trays filled with vegtable oil. I have observed small hive beetles in the small cell and also in the non regressed colony. I have not observed any mites in the small cell regressed bee trays, even though I have specifically looked for these with a magnifying glass. I have observed a few (about a dozen) in the non regressed colony. But I suppose being these are new colonies (after the splits anyway), then perhaps this is normal. I will continue my examinations and observations and experiments and come back and post to this thread anything of interest which should be shared, as I hope anyone else will.

    Thanks
    Danny

  10. #10
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    Apr 2003
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Default

    I did one year of traditional beekeeping with 3 hives when I started, then I started doing the foundationless after following Michael's writing. Other than foundationless, I use screened bottom boards and prop the tops for top ventilation and entrance. That's about it. I have never had many problems keeping bees alive, but I have done much better the longer I have let them do most of the work. All of my bees came from those 3 hives, a few swarms, and some queens purchased along the way. My control group is my mentor that got me started. My bees came from his. We keep bees in the same yards. Side by side, my bees do better, make bigger hives and more honey, and survive better. He uses foundation and solid BB. He's starting to consider foundationless and SBBs now. You will likely have more problems with SHB do to soil type. I am on gray and black clay, where you have red clay and sand. You also have more moisture down there in the summer.

  11. #11
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    Flora,IL
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DRUR View Post
    As usual Michael your observations are always appreciated. With regard to your losses, these will probably not be as relevant to our area since our temperatures rarely hit 10 F. However, I do take not that you mention that your losses are greater than during the 70s and 80s.

    Now, let me share my observations. I am using screened bottom boards with trays on all five of my colonies. As I check my bees, by pulling the frames, my son takes pictures of each of the frames, front and back. I download these pictures, and then I can zoom in and examine the bees. Currently our bee populations are not extremely large on any of our colonies. I have never observed any mites on any of our bees. Varroa destructor are supposed to be visable to the naked eye, but I zoom in to the pictures and much larger and even hairs on the bees can be observed.

    I also make close examinations of the trays filled with vegtable oil. I have observed small hive beetles in the small cell and also in the non regressed colony. I have not observed any mites in the small cell regressed bee trays, even though I have specifically looked for these with a magnifying glass. I have observed a few (about a dozen) in the non regressed colony. But I suppose being these are new colonies (after the splits anyway), then perhaps this is normal. I will continue my examinations and observations and experiments and come back and post to this thread anything of interest which should be shared, as I hope anyone else will.

    Thanks
    Danny


    Danny, not sure thats the best method for checking although its ingenious.....

    Powdered suger shake is probably the best, the darn Varro canand will be anywhere on the bee including the belly....

    I did forget to add I use SBB also... I probably don't need to do powdered sugar, but its easy and when in doubt, a cheap help to teh colony with no real downside.

  12. #12
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    Default

    One thing I failed to state in my original thread, as I didn't feel it was relevant to the thread, is that I kept bees (12-15 colonies) from the late 70s through the mid to late 80s, prior to the time of varroa destructor. The worst fear at that time was the Africanized bee invading Texas; although, I felt safe enough because I was beyond the demarcation line which ran through San Antonio at that time. I would produce average about 3 medium supers of honey per year with my Midnite bees for those colonies which were not moved; although I did have about 7 acres of crimson clover planted at that location. One year I did put 5 of my colonies on a trailer with a friend where we moved them to some Hubam clover around Kaufman, then to some cotton, and finally to a late bloom on Mesquite. Made about 300lbs per colony for those 5 colonies (as I can recall).

    I have read about the powdered sugar treatments but never read when, how, or why to treat. Mostly it was to determine mite count it seems. When I purchased the latest two colonies he had corrugated black plastic in the colonies, I picked one up with my hand and he told me not to do that as it was nasty stuff. At that time I knew then that beekeeping had changed for the worst. This very well could be the reason for no evidence of mites except in the non regressed bees, but if so, why have I observed mites in that colony and only that colony? No way back then would we have put any nasty stuff in our colonies as honey was generally known to be a safe product, even from insecticide poisoning as it was presumed the bees would die prior to honey contamination.

    It just seems to me that powdered sugar all over the bees would disrupt the colony, and I have read that you don't apply on honey flows. Someone might share with me the reason specifics and theories of this treatment so I know more about it.

    Thanks
    Danny

  13. #13
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    Default

    powdered sugur in the honey is what is refered to as "ADULTERATED" and a no no.... if its honey not for resale you will never know you sugared them once...

    THe method is the same as teh sugar roll for checks... lots of arguments about weather it ruins the sticy pads of teh mites or the post sugar grooming, but a large portion of the adult mites fall out the bottom.

    Mite load is also expotential, so breaking the cycle severly reduces the build be fall.. not teh be all end all, but a good harmless patch.

  14. #14
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    Default

    Yes, you can see Varroa in a picture with the naked eye:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/Varroa2.jpg
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/Varroa3.jpg
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    May 2008
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    Default

    My wife and I started 2 hives from packages on mann lake small cell plastic frames 2 months ago. I've done 2 accelerated mite drops, by powdering the hive with 2 cups powdered sugar. Then sliding the white board in for 1 hour. So far not a single mite.

    Am I doing it wrong?
    Dan

  16. #16
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    Default

    Probably not. You don't have any mites. (Yet) A break up in the brood cycle is a good mite treatment.

    Danny,

    I shake a cup or 2 over the brood nest with a STB Screened Top Board. I do it once a week for 3-4 weeks (in Feb and early Oct). It makes them groom each other, knocking off the mites. Which fall though the SBB. So you can get a mite count if you want one. I do a shake, I feed EO's, I don't count mites. I do it "wrong". My bees are alive
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 06-09-2009 at 02:23 PM. Reason: Unnecessary quoting
    Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked Hulk in the face. Now he hides in the forest and changed his name to Shrek

  17. #17
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    Default

    Dusting with sugar is a good solution to knock down the varroa without the use of any chemicals. To get a real good knock down, as already stated, you would need to do it once every 5-7 days for 3-4 weeks.

    There are 3 pages on this site with info on sugar dusting.
    http://www.scientificbeekeeping.com/...ask=view&id=69

    Also, Randy Oliver describes what he calls a One-Two punch on varroa that includes sugar dusting and drone trapping.

  18. #18
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Yes, you can see Varroa in a picture with the naked eye:
    TO my point, most of the mites here are on the bottom of the bees......
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 06-09-2009 at 02:24 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    powdered sugur in the honey is what is refered to as "ADULTERATED" and a no no.... if its honey not for resale you will never know you sugared them once...
    Thanks Charlie for letting me know why not to treat during a honey flow. Makes a difference. Exactly the type of response that I was hoping for in this thread.

    Danny
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 06-09-2009 at 02:25 PM.

  20. #20
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek View Post
    Probably not. You don't have any mites. (Yet) A break up in the brood cycle is a good mite treatment.



    Danny,

    I shake a cup or 2 over the brood nest with a STB Screened Top Board. I do it once a week for 3-4 weeks (in Feb and early Oct). It makes them groom each other, knocking off the mites. Which fall though the SBB. So you can get a mite count if you want one. I do a shake, I feed EO's, I don't count mites. I do it "wrong". My bees are alive
    Thanks Derek, that was one of the things I was certainly wondering about, is that when making my splits, adding small plastic cell frames, adding new queens, and hindering the laying and brood rearing also would "temporarily" inhibit mite production; thereby giving me a false sense of accomplishment with low or no obvious destructor populations, But I also take note of Ross's success in no treatments and only the loss of one colony out of 50. Also, thanks for the description of the treatment method and especially for your reasoning. I am not one to blindly do something because it is the GAP (generally accepted procedure).

    Danny

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