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Thread: VSH Queens

  1. #1
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    Default VSH Queens

    I purchased a VSH breeder this year and will be doing some grafting in June. I have heard everything from these bees being the answer to all of our problems to them having temperment and honey production issues. I am curious to get some thoughts on any of you who are currently using them. I bought her from Glenn Apiaries, who have a great reputation. If there is another thread addressing this issue please feel free to send me the link if I am going over something that has already been discussed. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    This should be an excellent discussion.

    I don't have any VSH queens, and have decided not to use them based on the philosophy of Sam Comfort. VSH is more or less a single trait that has been artificially bred into a population of bees. Wild survivor bees have broad variability in VSH behavior and hygenic behavior. This leads to the idea that perhaps the breeding of single traits is not the most efficient way to control varroa. Bees like humans are creatures of an almost unfathomable number of traits. Single traits tend to not directly be tied one to one to genes.

    I have also avoided testing for mites for the reason that there is no justification in my mind that a certain level of mite infestation should be set as a limit. If the bees survive and produce honey sufficiently with any level of mite infestation, I am satisfied. This is how it works in nature.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #3
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    I have gazzodles of daughter queens from glenn breeders...they are the best bees I have....glenn's itailans rock....the VSH are really good to...yes you cannot work them without a veil or smoker....but they are really not all that bad...most of my daughter queens are coming from a daughter of a glenn queen.....
    Glenn's VSH really is the best bee out there....
    mike
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    That is encouraging to hear, I appreciate your response. I am going to requeen most of my bees with the daughters this year and hope for the best! Has it been your experience that they still require annual treatments or is it a wait and see type of a thing for threshold?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    From the reading I have done hygienic behavior is a recessive gene and must be present in BOTH the mother and the father meaning once a supercedure takes place you loose it...by which I mean you lose the 95%+ it takes for this trait to control mites.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  6. #6
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    I think the matter of treating hives which have VSH strains is both a wait and see approach to mites and regular treatments.
    I think it depends on the area of the country you live in. And it depends on what you want to see the hives do.
    As to the first part of where you live...
    If you live in a short winter temperate climate with lots of access to your hives VSH might be the answer to your prayers. Treatments might be a wait and see approach. For someone who lives in a climate like mine where the winters are hard and long, VSH is just an aid. It's part of a IPM program. That is it. Both areas require monitoring

    As for what you expect of your bees,
    again this also depends on your climate, but it also depends on your objectives of you hives. If your plan in honey production, pollination, or nuc making, some sort of help might be needed. However if you have hives for the sake of having hives, do not care about being able to meet financial needs, just cause you love the bees, VSH might be the answer to your prayers.
    Again no matter what road you take, monitoring is always necessary. The reason for monitoring the mite loads is to 1. know when they get under pressure, 2. to see if the VSH is doing it's job 3. if they die for some unknown reason and you ask why did they die, and someone asks you what were your mites counts, you have an answer to diagnose the problem.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Sounds great. I appreciate everyone's thoughts. I live in CT and Honeyshack I think you are right. This is not the magic bullet, just another IPM tool. I am getting the darker strain of VSH X VSH with the hopes of better overwintering ability of her daughters.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Who supplies the "darker strain" of VSH? I was not aware of such a strain.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    Who supplies the "darker strain" of VSH? I was not aware of such a strain.
    Glenn sells a VSH yellow and a VSH dark.
    mike
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Thanks

  11. #11
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    I will be getting mine from Glenn Apiaries and Suki has been a pleasure to deal with. Very knowledgable and responsive. I always get a quick answer from her. Classy operation. Also, for the price you can't beat it. Some places were $300-$400 for breeders. Glenn is $150 and that includes shipping. An easy and quick way to get some (hopefully) solid genetics into my operation. The way I look at it, if you can reduce some treatments, maybe sell some of the daughter, that $150 investment could pay for itself in no time.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Agreed... if you can get them to survive the winter. I failed and a couple of very good beeks around here also failed. Others have had to baby them to get them through the winter [sheds, heat tapes]. That doesn't make them desirable to me.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Did you have to baby the breeders or the daughter queens through winter? That is one reservation that I had about going down this road. I have had good wintering success over the last 3 winters with some local carniolans from Full Bloom apiaries. Maybe I will only requeen half my hives if wintering can be an issue.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    I didn't baby them and they both died in January. I get most of my queens from Full Bloom. I have great wintering success - over 90% with his queens, even in 5 frame nucs. I'm trying some of Russells Carni's and Caucasians this year and will also use Full Bloom cells. I also ordered a breeder queen from VP Queens {$80.00 + shipping}- his Spartan [Carni] line. If she survives the winter I'll raise some queens from her. None of them treat so the queens should have some basic mite resistance. I've given up on the pure VSH queens for now. Too bad they were developed in the deep south rather than the north.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    VSH is more or less a single trait that has been artificially bred into a population of bees. Wild survivor bees have broad variability in VSH behavior and hygenic behavior. This leads to the idea that perhaps the breeding of single traits is not the most efficient way to control varroa.
    Who breeds for single traits? What intelligent queen breeder would select for one trait? I doubt any. VSH breeder queens are not production queens. They are for raising daughters whose drones have high VSH content. These drones mate with virgins from your own breeding stock, adding those genes to your breeding stock...and to the feral colonies in the neighborhood. Your breeding stock has been selected over a number of years with selection criteria for many important traits.

    Adding another trait to your stock is no different than nature creating a successful, beneficial mutation. The mutation spreads through the population and the population benefits as a whole. This is how it works in nature.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by NasalSponge View Post
    From the reading I have done hygienic behavior is a recessive gene and must be present in BOTH the mother and the father meaning once a supercedure takes place you loose it...by which I mean you lose the 95%+ it takes for this trait to control mites.
    According to Spivak, a 30% VSH content is sufficient.

    This whole process takes time and is ongoing. Surely requeening your colonies with a VSH queen won't insure VSH daughters when the colony supersedes or swarms. But, once the bees in the neighborhood have a high enough VSH, their drones will be mating with your virgins.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    Agreed... if you can get them to survive the winter. I failed and a couple of very good beeks around here also failed. Others have had to baby them to get them through the winter [sheds, heat tapes]. That doesn't make them desirable to me.
    Again, these pure VSH queens aren't for production hives. They aren't really expected to survive a long winter. You should be raising as many queens as possible from them and then winter the daughters.

    These pure VSH colonies need special handling. They are so VSH that they tear out lots of brood. So much in some cases that the colony has a hard time building up. You have to add frames of emerging brood regularly so the nurse population stays high. If you don't they will likely supersede. If winter is an issue, you may have to build them up in the Fall with brood from other colonies.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Mike-thanks for your advice on this. Do you think I should use the VSH breeder as a drone producer or to graft daughter queens from? Some people have said they have had difficulty getting VSH queens to overwinter well. So maybe producing drones would be better than grafting queens as the VSH concentration may not be as high?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    These pure VSH colonies need special handling. They are so VSH that they tear out lots of brood. So much in some cases that the colony has a hard time building up. You have to add frames of emerging brood regularly so the nurse population stays high. If you don't they will likely supersede. If winter is an issue, you may have to build them up in the Fall with brood from other colonies.
    And this is precisely why I don't want or need them. This single trait is not so valuable to me that I need to coddle them that much. They don't fit mother nature's ideal of a survivor.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #20
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    Default Re: VSH Queens

    I believe you are missing the point Solomon.

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