Veni, vidi, Velcro. I came, I saw, I stuck around.
Conclusion: Considering what Randy Oliver said about mites moving into worker brood instead of staying in drone brood as they once did w/ Apis cerana, what if, instead of limiting drone production in a bee hive, instead we dedicated a certain amount of space to drone comb, encouraging drone production to attract mites and instead of uncapping and interrupting varroa life cycle, allow varroa to complete its' reproductive cycle.
I believe I have heard that if one leaves a colony to its own devices it will build the amount of drone comb it wants. Often, I will move drone comb to the outside of the brood box. Either against the wall of second comb in.
Perhaps I should observe where drone combs are in a hive and leave them there. Only that would preclude something I planned on doing this Summer which is to dedicate one yard of 40 hives to Rolands' varroa management technique and raising frames of brood above an excluder, to see if the intensive management results in increased honey production and to see how well drone comb smashing positively effects varroa population.
Randy's talk was very interesting in a scientific way but I have to say there have been members on this list that have been talking this talk plus walking it for somewhere close to a decade or more.
Just thought this should be brought up and give credit where credit is due.
I listened to the talk again and took notes this time. Boy he talks fast. I'm glad I am not a student of his trying to take notes in a College class. So here are some of the things I wrote down and thoughts I had while doing so. Quotes aren't accurate, so don't jump on me. I didn't figure out how to stop and restart the audio until my wife wanted to speak to me. Anyway,... My thoughts in [Brackets].
"New parasite changes the dynamics."
"Varroa, DWV, Nosema cerana"
"Red Queen Hypothosis, because varroa keeps evolving meaning we have to keep running just to stay in place. [just like what happened in "Alice in Wonderland", my thought]
[conclusion: Do something to slow the varroa's evolution. But what?]
"Cycle of building up, thriving and crashing." [note to readers just in case you didn't know. he is talking history here. beekeeping goes thru this cycle. what we are doing know is surfing the crest of that cycle. some will ride it well. others will fall and get crushed by the big wave. this sort of cycle has been seen before, such as when Isle of Wight Disease occured and when AFB became epidemic.]
"If parent colony is exposed to a parasite their offspring will be genetically resistant."
[conclusion: expose bees to parasites and breed from those cols which show resistance through low mite counts.]
"Don't have populations too inbred."
"Feral populations maintain thier integrity." he talked about toy poodles and wolves(?).
[question: if we breed from feral colonies will they over time become "toy poodles"?]
He talked about breeding for one trait. AFB resistance, tracheal mite resistance, etc., but, when breeding for one trait like tha leads to the lose of something. AFB resistant bees produce poor honey crops. Foraging ability is lost.
"Stop supporting ones that are not resistant."
"Nothing should go into the beehive except queens."
Mites weren't a problem for us until the mites changed to be able to reproduce in worker cells.
"We need to change the definitive host back to the drone brood."
"Active and passive resistance- Russian and VSH queen lines. Suppresion and chewing."
"Exposed drone pupae."
BREEDING REGIONAL QUEENS
"Breed designer queens for your specific operation."
"Select for production." "Give bees a job description. Honey production. No honey production, "Your fired.""
[conclusion: if management, such as intensively raising frames of brood above an excluder while also smashing drone brood caps to interfere w/ varroa life cycle so bees are encouraged to chew, will produce a good crop of honey, grow queens using Olivers methods of selection, while maintaining a variety of VSH and Russian stock in the operation.]
[select colonies to raise queens from while they are in the apple orchards in May. Look for strong colonies w/ lots of brood and really low mite counts. Doing this seven months after the previous mite treatment.]
In conclusion, whether I will actually end up doing much of any of what would be nice if I did is probably unlikely. Though it would be nice to try. I will have to give all of this some thought and see what is practical for me to do.
As per migratory beekeeping. Whether this is true or not, and it may be good for more than just migratory, I believe that a certain amount of the maintaining of "mutts" in an operation can be benficiual. I have never believed in running just one breed of bee in my operation.
I would think that this would be born out in those who have gathered feral bees into their apiaries. No one knows exactly where they came from or what exact breed they are. imo
This variety may be a key to success.
I don't think it likely. Unless i can get someone to do it w/ my bees. My eyes aren't good enuf to graft.
BBM, back before mites, beekeepers from near here used to transport their bees to SC for the winter where in the Spring they would be split and allowed to grow their own queens. So, until a time when queen rearing and breeding really became practical and affordable many operations made thier replacements and growth by allowing splits to make their own queens.
Those were also times of great honey production.
Do something to slow the varroa's evolution. But what?]
He he he......now what might do that?????
I think it would be easier to be treatment free and migratory than treatment free and sedentary. It is winter that causes the most losses. If we could move all the bees down south, it would be alot easier to replace winter losses. Mites are easily handled without miticides, N. apis and N. ceranae can be handled without Fumigillon(sp?), it is AFB that is a tougher row to hoe, but can be done. The problem is it is cheaper to use miticides at this time, and no one will pay extra for pollination from treatment free bees.
Yes, I think there are some fine details of pathogen interaction, and treatment effects on mites, that Randy will be discovering soon. Alot of his conclusions could have been drawn up about 3-4 years ago, when the data was first available. That said, he is still the best reporter of solutions we have.
You folks were wondering who Dean is refering to who is a treatment free migratory beekeeper (someone said Sam, I think its he who migrates to the bees not the bees migrating). I'm not Dean, but to quote him from the 2011 Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference:
"Chris Baldwin: Chris is the only treatment free beekeeper that we know who is migratory (he travels between South Dakota, Texas, and California to the almonds!). As a producer of bees and honey, Chris will talk about the unique challenges migratory beekeeping presents to treatment free beekeeping practices, and the nuts and bolts of what makes his operation work. Chris came to the conference last year as an attendee and his impromptu talks were so well received that we convinced him to come back this year as a full-fledged speaker!"
Chris is with Golden Valley Apiaries http://southbeekota.com/
He could have been referring to someone else but from the above thats a good guess.
Nice, well produced website. Looks like a professional beekeeper. Thanks for exposing him to us. I wonder why previous references were so obtuse? Simply didn't know or was Chris' identity being kept secret for some reason?
This is a very interesting operation. Definitely worth some study. I was surprised at the diverse number of activities carried out by the operation. Also I have yet to find the phrase "Treatment Free".... it may well be there, but I have yet to see it. But what really surprises me is their statement... that they have been using the same bees for 40 years... no outside blood! I would have thought that the bees would have been terribly "Inbred" by now... but heck... who knows... maybe that is the secret to TF Migratory operation....
Veni, vidi, Velcro. I came, I saw, I stuck around.
I would be more surprised if they were inbred, it's not all that easy to get inbred bees without AI or an isolated mating station most places just because of the DCAs.
Side note, their homepage says they have a chemical free goal, so they definately put it out there.
Probably the last time I saw Sam Comfort, it was 2010 and we were both at the ABF Conference in Orlando, FL. He told me then that he had brought TBHs down from NY. I'd say that he moves bees South and North. Call it, them, and him what you want. I'm not arguing one way or t'other.
The way it was described to me.... was .. Sam Comfort was headed South on 95 with a load of what looked like tiny TBHs.. and he had a bunch of Bee Tattoos...
Veni, vidi, Velcro. I came, I saw, I stuck around.
I don't know where you get this "easy die" idea from. How short a life does an "easy die" colony have? How long a life does a "non-easy die" colony have? Seems to me as though I have quite a few colonies which haven't died for a number of years. Perhaps you do the same thing I do? Split the live ones to replace the dead ones?
Last Fall I had 500 colonies. Now I have 440. 12% died, easily or not, I don't know.
Previous to that I have had some Springs w/ 30% dieback over Winter, a cpl more.
One Spring, the same year David Hackenberg had his first "CCD" experience, I had an 85% dieback. My diagnosis of the reason for the dieback was ineffective or late mite treatment, poor management.
Now, I don't know for certain that those that survived did so because of the mite treatments, maybe it was other factors. I certainly wasn't going to try to build back w/out treating. And now, this year, as is true for others, dieback is less than it has been in 6 to 8 years.
Back when Varroa mites hit NY, 1986, they got to me in '88, I had 50% and 75% dieback. That's when I got into Apistan and migrating south for the winter. And grew to 800 colonies.