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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    803

    Default BWrangler Update

    Hi Guys

    It's been awhile, but a recent thread linked to one of my earlier posts. And, although not related to the thread's subject, I promised an update on that post a year and a half ago. Thought I had. Did a search and couldn't find one so here goes:

    In 2009 my small cell hives weren't doing so well. In 2010 they continued to decline. There were no mite or apparent disease problems, so I decided to split the yard and requeen. My thinking then:
    http://beenatural.wordpress.com/2010...atural-limits/

    Then it became apparent many wild bees were having problems as well:
    http://beenatural.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/silenc/

    The bees continued to struggle. My assessment at the end of 2010:
    http://beenatural.wordpress.com/2010...lections-2010/

    Spring 2011:
    http://beenatural.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/yeo/

    Condensed test yard history:
    http://beenatural.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/the-plan/

    So, after 12 years, no more special small cell bees or hives. During their history, my treatment free beekeeping expectations were more than met. After the initial season's problems with small cell, I never had to treat for mites or anything else. The hives were healthy, productive, long lived and vigorous. They escaped the mites and other common brood diseases. But they couldn't cope with the latest wave of CCD viruses.

    I learned more about bees and real beekeeping from working with these hives, than I learned from 30 years of commercial beekeeping. It was the success of these hives, combined with the onerous side of getting small cell comb, that took my beekeeping in a more natural direction.

    Even though I went natural and left the small cell posting war to others, I continued to look into several aspects of small cell.

    But that's all done now. The decades old small cell combs are virus laden and will be rendered this coming spring.


    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Fayetteville, Arkansas
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    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Dennis, thanks for the update, I read your blog from time to time and while sometimes your methods leave me perplexed at the illogicality, I appreciate the data.

    My question is what did you requeen with when you trashed the yard?

    Secondly, why kill survivor queens?

    Don't take this as veiled incredulity, I really do want to understand why you do what you do.

    Thanks.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,196

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    your methods leave me perplexed at the illogicality
    Perhaps a better word to use would be 'logic.' Could be just your opinion that they are illogical.
    Regards, Barry

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Fayetteville, Arkansas
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    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Well, I'd have to rewrite the sentence if I used the word 'logic.' I worked hard on that sentence.

    But what I meant is that I don't get the logic. But I was never a commercial beekeeper and I obviously think differently than a lot of people.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,191

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Fortunately, we all thing different.

    Dennis, thanks for that update. I was wondering where you had disappeared to.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Hi Guys

    Solomon, there's no problem. Your incredulity just barely shows through the veil. :-) Really there's no problem. Having been around bees all my life, it's hard for me write as clear about them as I would like to.

    The logic? There are at least two approaches that are taken when a yard is in decline. And I've tried both of them.

    - One method involves borrowing from strong hives to reinforce the weak ones. It results in no strong hives, a few more normal hives, and fewer weak hives that still take lots of work. With this method, a beekeeper spends at least half his time working with non-productive hives.

    -Another approach leaves the strong and normal hives intact, but yard trashes the weak ones. The results are no disruptions to the strong and normal hives and their production. And no coddling of the weak. Ether the splits take off or they don't. And those that do, usually do very well.

    Unfortunately, in this yard, they were all weak and declining. I thought that resulted from a couple of very poor nutritional seasons and very old queens. After all, there were little to no varroa mites, no brood diseases, etc. Little did I know that the old turbo CCD that once took 400 hives/week had a slowmo variant. And that I'd been watching it progress for two years!

    Queens? I tried both Zia lines. They don't treat. And I also tried Koehnen's which I've been very satisfied with(both bees and people) in the past. The trashing and infusion of new queens stopped the dramatic decline. But the hives failed to thrive.

    Survivor queens? Well, some of them a little and the others not so much. Something else was needed.

    Even before mites and my small cell experience, I was focused on survivor queens. That was the original reason for creating this test yard in 1984. Mites and then small cell only reinforced my survivor queen focus. But when these bees passed through a genetic bottle neck while regressing, I found that luck can be as big a factor as genetics.

    Once this test yard was on small cell, survival hadn't been limited to 'survival queen genetics'. All races easily survived and thrived. My selection criteria moved back to a more traditional focus like temperament, etc.

    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    4,655

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    How would we track down irradiation service in our area? No commercial beekeeping here.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    It is mostly used to sterilize other types of equipment, medical, etc? Google "irradiation services" and see what pops up.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    4,655

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    It is mostly used to sterilize other types of equipment, medical, etc? Google "irradiation services" and see what pops up.Crazy Roland
    Mostly hospitals, but I do see one that look like it might work. I will check it out. Thanks
    My ?CCD? deadouts get refilled every year with bait swarms and I am not seeing anything that indicates they cause more dead outs than new combs, but sterilization would make me know I did all I could to stop contagions .

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    ODfrank wrote:

    I am not seeing anything that indicates they cause more dead outs than new combs,

    From our experience , you have not experienced the "Real" CCD. When you do, nothing will survive.

    Crazy Roland

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    803

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Hi Guys

    Let talk yard trashing. There's no one better at it than me.

    - first take decade old treatment free bees that tolerate varroa mites.

    - then, because they're bullet proof, move them in with the most disease infested, mite ridden commercial bees possible as the ultimate test.

    - retrieve them after 3 seasons and think everything is fine because they look normal and there's no mite problems.

    - they buy $1000 worth of new woodenware, $275 worth of queens, $250 worth of sugar and pollen sub to revitalize the yard.

    - split the bees equally into the new equipment.

    - give them two shots of malathion.

    - come back next spring and find all the bees dead and all that new equipment chronically infected with CCD virus.

    Now that's a yard that's been thoroughly trashed. At least that's how this beekeeper does it. :-)))

    NOW FOR THE REAL YARD TRASHING

    It's a way to quickly and easily break down a yard into nucs. It's probably not a very good way to do things if a yard has virus problems.

    First, a quick and dirty assessment of the number of frames of brood and bees is made by inspecting a couple of hives.

    Then nucs or in my case singles are set up randomly off to the side of the yard.

    That night all the hives are smoked and opened. Then frames of brood, bees, and food are randomly pulled and inserted into the nucs until each nuc has the same number of frames of brood, etc. No regard for, or looking for old queens, etc. The more combs from different hives are mixed up in the nucs, the better.

    Ripe queen cells are inserted in each nuc. They are allowed to mate and lay.

    Then nucs are inspected. Those that don't make the grade are culled.

    Sounds horrible, but works great. It creates a ruckus the next day. So, it's not an option for a stealth urban beekeeper. But a large yard can be torn down and nucs created in less than an hour. Most of that time is actually spent handling empty equipment.

    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,277

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Quote Originally Posted by BWrangler View Post
    - come back next spring and find all the bees dead and all that new equipment chronically infected with CCD virus.
    I have not been tracking CCD closely, but the last I heard was that the cause of CCD is still unknown. Again, my information could be very old. What is it that makes you certain that a "CCD virus" was the one of the causes of the decline. Did you have any of the bees or comb tested?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Hi AstroBee

    Randy Oliver has a very interesting series called "Sick Bees" in the American Bee Journal. He has been able to replicate the classic fast CCD and a new slow motion kind of CCD. It's an interesting read some of which is available at:

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/colony-health/

    Roland(above and in the ABJ?, I've lost the references) and others? have been able to use infected equipment after irradiating it.

    Both point to a virus source.

    My bout with the classic variety happened so fast that I didn't have any real observations. It was booming hives one day. Three days later CCD hives.

    The slow motion variety I've recently experienced, gave me lots of time to observe, interact with and think about the process. And I couldn't have designed a better way to evenly inoculate an entire yard than splitting it the way I did.

    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    2,467

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Yes, I have reused bad equipment after it has been sterilized, with no re-occurrence.

    Credit must be given to Hackenburg, who I believe was the first to report that irradiation was successful.

    Crazy Roland

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    803

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Hi Guys

    Let's talk old comb.

    Considering some commercial comb I've worked with, decade old small cell comb is relatively young. I've worked comb with frames that were repaired with metal from car license plates dated 1932. Some of it was so tough, it couldn't be cut with a knife. More like shoe leather than beeswax comb.

    Concerning the small cell comb. It's dark, but not nearly as dark as typical comb that age. I think the bees keep the midrib and walls thinner. I had planned to put my small cell comb on a 3 year rotation. But it was so hard/expensive to get drawn out. And all my small cell hives were involved in tests that would have been disturbed by replacing queens, comb, etc. So, I didn't.

    But 10 year old comb is probably too old by a factor of 2. Before mites, studies show feral colonies typically lived for 3 years, rarely to 5 before succumbing. That's probably a good guide.

    Letting bees draw out and inhabit new comb has a revitalizing effect on a colony. At least that's been my experience with average bees put in top bar hives. I've had queens that have barely escaped the hive tool on typical comb in a Lang hive, become my best performers when shaken into a top bar hive. And I've watched colonies loose chronic diseases like chalkbrood the same way.

    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
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    5,018

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Quote Originally Posted by BWrangler View Post
    But 10 year old comb is probably too old by a factor of 2. Before mites, studies show feral colonies typically lived for 3 years, rarely to 5 before succumbing. That's probably a good guide.
    This has been my impression for a good long time, maybe I got it from you first, I don't remember. Recently however, someone told me different. Do you have a source for these studies? It would be a good solid piece of information. Thanks.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,440

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    What is the purpose of treating bees with malathion?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    803

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Hi Guys

    It's my understanding that radiation is the only real cure for CCD infected equipment. My hope is that it's not the case. I hope some beekeepers have bees that can survive a CCD infected hive.

    I suspect that the long incubation period for slowmo CCD has some beekeepers as confident as I was ignorant. I had indications, in hind sight, that my bees were doomed three years before they showed definative symptoms. Then taking another season after that to perish.

    A beekeeper on another list tried this. He put empty CCD infected equipment on an ant hill. The ants went through the same process as the bees. They languished and then died. Not a good sign.

    Not sure what I'm going to do with the equipment. It's store away in my garage.

    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee. It's only natural.
    http://talkingstick.me/bees/

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,196

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    Quote Originally Posted by BWrangler View Post
    Not sure what I'm going to do with the equipment.
    Until you've decided, get your carboy out of storage and get brewing!
    Regards, Barry

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,191

    Default Re: BWrangler Update

    I suspect that the malathion was a case of leg pulling.

    One major note from the above, periodic comb renewal is definitely beneficial to the bees. A 5 year cycle seems to be about optimum.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

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