Re: How does a beekeeper, currently treating on LC, move to a SC treatment free progr
In my experience, there are no drawbacks to having a mix of small and large cell given that the core of the broodnest is on small cell, however, I made a point of having both varroa tolerant queens and small cell at the same time so there would be a safety margin. Even with this effort, my commercial Carniolan queens all died out from varroasis.
Maybe I should expand on that. I had queens from 3 sources at the time I moved to small cell. There were about 3 commercial Carniolans, 5 feral swarm caught queens, and 9 queens from Purvis. Of the bees that successfully made the transition to small cell and survived over the last 6 years, one was an exceptional but very hot feral queen, 3 were from the Purvis stock, and none made it from the Carniolans. From the feral queen, I raised enough queens and mated them with drones from the Purvis stock so that I could make splits and rebuild to 16 colonies as of 2008. At this point, my bees are about 60% derived from the feral queen. She turned out to be exceptional both in honey production and in varroa tolerance.
In 2008 and 2009 I deliberately let about 50 or 60 swarms get away. This was my way of re-stocking some resistant genetics in the area around my 3 apiaries. As of this past season, I kept all of my bees from swarming and focused on honey production. My best colony produced 5 shallow supers full of honey which in round figures would be about 200 pounds.
Barry, I put all 3 frames with foundation in the center of the broodnest and all of them together. I don't think it would have mattered to the bees one way or another if I had spread them out. Most of the combs were badly mucked up on the first round. I had 2 colonies that did a decent job of drawing them out. From those two colonies, I harvested enough combs to seed the broodnest of several more colonies on the next round.
DarJones - 43 years beekeeper, 10 colonies, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell