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  1. #1
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    Default How long until you have resistant bees?

    If you do not use any mite treatment, how long until you can be encouraged that your bees are resistant? I have heard 3 years treatment free. I have requeened all my hives with daughters from my VSH breeder (Glenn Apiaries) and have not treated since the fall of 2010. My uncle who has just mongrel bees has not treated in 3-4 years. He just decided to give it up cold turkey because he did not feel like paying for apistan anymore. He runs 10-20 hives, I run the same numbers. So how long until you have reistant bees?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    I think most of us are still waiting for the answer to this question. I am not sure who told you three years. But if it where just a matter of not treating for 3 years in order to have resistant bees I think everyone woudl rather avoid the cost of treating.

    Resistant bees are more an issue of something you work toward from many directions. How long it takes is however long it takes.

    Now treatment free is something you can do right here right now. Your bees may not survive it, but that does not prevent you from doing it.

    In short you are asking a simple question to a complicated issue.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    I don't think that the three year standard works very well. After three years you have a different queen and half of the genetics in the hive came from all of the drones with which she has mated. Now if all of the beekeepers in your neighboring area stop treating and you raise your queens before the migratory beekeepers land with their non-resistant bees then you'll be on your way to producing resistant bees. Otherwise, every time a queen mates, your bees will be less resistant.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Johnston View Post
    Otherwise, every time a queen mates, your bees will be less resistant.
    I don't believe so. While there is no guarantee that every individual queen of every generation will carry the traits necessary to maintain resistance, most of them do. It's too high a standard. I believe we must accept under mite pressure a average loss every year. What is that loss? I don't know. But that's how natural selection works. You must lose some consistently and consistently rebuild. There is no free lunch, no magic bullet. That's why I suggest keeping no fewer than five hives. Because of the constant divergence of genetics, you can't broadly paint any group of hives with the 'resistant' brush. Every year, some don't make it, most do. That's natural selection.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5

    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    I don't disagree with most of what Solomon Parker says. All of our bees are more resistant now than when Varroa first appeared. When Varroa first appeared, if you did not treat, probably all of your hives would die. With treatment, only 75% would die during that first winter. I talked with one beekeeper that did everything right that first year and he still lost 90% of his bees.
    I did not treat with miticides from 2003 to 2011. This past Fall, I gave most of my bees one round of Apiguard. I have no use for the synthetic pesticides or the mite away quick strips. I do like the essential oils if used in moderation.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Although you do have queen daughters mating with local drones that may or may not be resistent there must be some progression in resistence. I do not think that we can say that it is not worth breeding bees because we lose the resistance after one generation. If this were the case we would not see feral bees and by many reports, Tom Seeley being one, feral bees are coming back. You are correct that it is not as easy as just stop treating and now your bees are resistant, but by stopping the treatments and culling for temperment, production, etc. you are always taking one step closer to breeding a resistant be. Of course the thing to keep in mind is that these bees hopefully will become reistant, but maybe not "mite-proof." I like the 3 years because it is long enough for the mite population to wax and wane (3X) opposite the bee population. This allows the hive survive on its own and get over the easy early years of dealing with mites that wwe see with nucs and swarms. Just as I mentioned my uncle has not treated in 3-4 years, he has suffered loss but not enough to devastate his numbers. He has always been able to split from his surviving colonies to hopefully strengthen his overall operation. Easier for the hobbyist than the commercial.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Every year, some don't make it, most do. That's natural selection.
    What about every year that most don't make and some do? What's that?

    Or, let's say, for a number of years, 5 or 10, more hives survive than die and then in the 6th or 11th year most of them die, what's that?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Sounds like a bad year.

    Stuff happens, droughts, floods, bears, etc. More hives, greater chance of overall survival. That's why I recommend more.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    But not natural selection?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    If you have ten hives and half of them die from something like weather or pests then the survivors go on to repopulate the other hives themselves and then perhaps eight of ten survive similar conditions next year then it might be described as natural selection. However, I would say that in managed hives it is a combination of natural selection and selective breeding as nature manages to get in some input as it takes out some of hives, but beekeepers put in most of the information with the bees they choose, methods/chemicals used, sites that they pick. So, nature has an input, but we make a lot of decisions that wild bees would be making themselves.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Excellent point, I look at it that man made selection just speeds up what natural selection would do anyway. Of course with the caveat of being gentle, which is actually a weakness in nature, but a positive in managed colonies.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Actually I can't think of a true natural selection situation that results in the survival of anywhere near half of all offspring. Even in Elephants that produce a calf only once every 2 to 7 years, depending on the survival of her calf (pregnancy lasts 22 months and if the calf survives female will not breed again for 5 years). they still manage to produce nearly a dozen calves in a lifetime. In a stable population only 2 will survive. In any stable natural population only 2 offspring will survive. these two replace the original parents. In bees a stable natural selection environment would mean only one swarm ever survives for every queens lifespan. I don't think any keeper of anything would tolerate true natural selection for long if at all.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    When I was not treating on large cell they all died from Varroa within 2 years. Anything past that is pretty successful.

    I haven't treated now for 9 years on small cell and have lost none to Varroa. I lose them to starvation and queenlessness and the small ones I lose when it hits -27 F some winters...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessctheories.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Actually I can't think of a true natural selection situation that results in the survival of anywhere near half of all offspring.In bees a stable natural selection environment would mean only one swarm ever survives for every queens lifespan. I don't think any keeper of anything would tolerate true natural selection for long if at all.
    Here's my load of speculation!

    True natural selection isn't the same thing as a sustainable stable (2 offspring replace 2 parents) population. Populations will wax and wane even in controlled environments as well under artificial selection, or natural selection. If left entirely to nature, a population would grow or shrink due to food supply mostly. Even under true natural selection, populations can explode until disease or famine destroys them into extinction. Look at how humans are living in naturally unsustainable populations now. With a $20 vaccine we're immune to diseases that eradicated untold numbers of humans less than 100 years ago, and with modern medicine our toddlers could very well be living well past 100 years old. All because we've managed ourselves, but perhaps not without dire effects to the planet.

    It's not the strongest who survive, but the ones most adaptable to change. Knowing that, it's impossible to know an exact time table for resistant bees. I think it also has to do with perhaps dormant genes and what the species has faced in the past. I'm pretty sure over millions of years bees have survived some pretty harsh conditions. Virii, pests, disease, etc. Maybe they've seen varroa before we observed them? If so, somewhere in some species of bees, there is coding that may or may not switch on some kind of defense if faced with this pest again. It could happen maybe within 1 generation or 100. If one colony is destroyed by something, maybe the next colony over found a way to survive it, and their genes are passed on. If man sees a colony doing particularly well, he will speed up this "selection" tremendously through artificial selection. That's what we're doing every time we split a colony we perceive to be strong or well suited to our region, or a colony that keeps SBH in check or varroa, etc. With management and selection, we likely keep bees around where they wouldn't survive naturally. I think that it's very important that there are species suited to different regions that provide diverse genetics. A colony that does well here in FL shouldn't be expected to survive a winter the same way a colony in the north does. On the same note, diverse genetics helps keep one disease or virus or pest from wiping out an entire nation's food supply, livestock, etc.. (Check out "Food Ark" in National Geographic. The article can be found online and it's eye-opening..)

    I guess we're essentially trying to immunize a species the way nature would, if left to its own devices. With that, I think it's hard to guess how many generations it'd take to be resistant. Find what works in your area and promote that stock as much as possible. Michael Bush solved his varroa issues by letting them regress back to a natural cell size. It's possible then that long ago bees were forced to a small cell size because of varroa, and man's attempt to create bigger bees brought the issue back? There are so many variables in our environments and even in our managed, controlled conditions. A previous poster said "bees would be making these decisions themselves" and that's true, but they could make decisions that drove them into collapse like so many species have done in the past.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    The link below is an interesting read about Hygenic genes in bees. It looks like you need two separate recessive genes for Hygenic behaviour. One for uncapping affected brood, the other gene for removing affected brood. So you only have a 1 in 4 chance in every generation. See page 2 in the Introduction.

    But then a queen mating with a number of different drones complicates the calculations more... anyway you need to have enough bees in the hive with both genes.

    http://www.culturaapicola.com.ar/apu...fermedades.pdf

    Hope this helps.

    Matthew Davey

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Hygienic behavior is not a single trait or even two. Feral bees have wildly varying levels of hygienic behavior and yet survive. The beekeeping community has latched onto the hygienic trait as something to breed for and that's great, but it's not the only valuable trait, nor is it absolutely required.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Feral bees have wildly varying levels of hygienic behavior and yet survive.
    Isn't your data set skewed, since you only know of those that do survive? How does anyone know the varying levels of hygenic behavior in feral colonies?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    How is the data skewed? What's the point of testing hygienic capability in a dead hive? Living hives have varying levels of the hygienic trait, I believe according to Spivak. We'll have to check with deknow for the details.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    So, I take it these are managed colonies from feral source?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  20. #20
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    Default Re: How long until you have resistant bees?

    Back to the original question, if you requeen with a resistant or treatment free queen, your colony will be resistant in six weeks, if done in the spring or summer.

    I've been treatment free six years, completely and totally. I've requeened a couple of times, open mated all the time with my walk away splits. Started with two packages from B. Weaver, grew to 32 by last fall. Lost two colonies this past winter. 6 %. Treatment free on large cell.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

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