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.
NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest