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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default How many mites can a hive survive?

    Check out this picture: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5XdTesoYJx...0/IMG_3082.jpg

    It's way too big to post here, but it needs to be because of the detail. This is a picture of the bottom board of a hive I have that last fall had the most profound mite infestation I've ever seen. I've heard of worse, but who can believe the stories? As you may be able to see, there are hundreds of mites on this bottom board.

    This is the bottom board I would expect of a hive that died from mites. But this hive is still alive. It just goes to show you never know really how far they can go unless you let them go there. It's the main reason why I let hives die rather than requeen them or try to save them in some way. I'm not tell you that you have to do it this way, but this is the way I do it.

    More of the story at my blog. http://parkerfarms.blogspot.com/2012...any-mites.html
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
    Posts
    2,907

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    How did this heavily infested hive behave? Did the living bees have a different behavior than normal?

    I ask these questions because here... when I have had heavy mite populations, the bees appeared to be sluggish, not really able to defend their space. And certainly not able to fend off SHB populations. Most of my mite hives die not from mites, but simply give up the hives to the SHB. At least so goes my latest hypothesis.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Interesting. Hard to tell from the picture what is mites and what is debris. Since you don't use a SBB the live mites just sit there waiting to go back up into the hive. I would be very interested to see how long this hive survives with such a heavy load as you describe!!

    Good experiment.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,789

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    I think the number of mites survivable is determined by the virus load accompanying them. Seems like this hive had a very low load of virus and no nosema.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
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    1,701

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    I had a swarm I caught last June. Came on like crazy. By fall they appeared to be waning. Did a Mite count and quite counting at 40. (300 bee sample with an alcohol wash) Almost trash bagged them. A few comments made me re think and I decided if they were going to die, it would be by natures' hand, not mine. Didn't figure they would make it through winter. Set up robber screens in case. Cluster went way down. Thought they would freeze but we did have a mild winter here. They are now doing as good if not better than some of my others. We shall see what this season brings. Is it a watershed for this hive. Don't know. BTW, the numbers of DWV bees crawling around in front of that hive in August was alarming. Just an observation.
    I asked this question concerning treatment for mites at the bee association meeting last week. " How do you know what the bees can do unless you let them try?(sound familiar? The answer I got was "You don't" Pretty much ended the discussion as far as I was concerned.
    Good info Sir. May I use those pics for a talk on Treatment Free in the future?
    Rick

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,245

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Ten years ago I had a colony in August whose adult bees had developed the "Shabby Bag Lady" look and the brood was showing signs of BPMS. It was obvious the colony would not survive the winter so I treated and put in a white sticky board. The first 24 hour fall turned the white board black, and I am not exaggerating. There had to be 10,000 plus mite in the firts fall. I had never seen a varroa population that large before and I never have since.

    To my surprise the colony survived the winter and grew strong enough to swarm the following spring. The colony requeened itself with a swarm cell queen and her offspring never developed BPMS again. The colony lasted 3 more years before it failed because of a drone laying queen.

    I think my varroa population now will run 4 to 6 thousand at their peak in August but the bees now handle varroa well. I have not seen BPMS in years. SHB do increase with high varroa counts, luckly they are not that much of a problem in north Arkansas.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Quote Originally Posted by hpm08161947 View Post
    How did this heavily infested hive behave? Did the living bees have a different behavior than normal?
    I did not notice anything out of the ordinary. I did fully expect them to die though, whatever that says.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    I would be very interested to see how long this hive survives with such a heavy load as you describe!!
    They are quite small now, just under a soccer ball sized brood nest. Despite that, I can never seem to find the queen even though I see eggs and fresh brood. She must be a very small one. I have confiscated most of the hive, relegating them to a five frame nuc. There, they can live or die, their choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    I think the number of mites survivable is determined by the virus load accompanying them. Seems like this hive had a very low load of virus and no nosema.
    Perhaps. I don't know. I'm more interested in the fact they survived rather than why.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick 1456 View Post
    May I use those pics for a talk on Treatment Free in the future?
    Yes you may. My next phone will have a better camera so pictures will be better. I'll probably get a bad reputation on my website for big pictures, but if it were me, I would want the best detail possible, even if I have to wait a minute for it to load. Sorry to the dial up folks. There are mites in many stages of decomposition. It's obvious some have been dead since last winter, those are the black ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    The first 24 hour fall turned the white board black, and I am not exaggerating. There had to be 10,000 plus mite in the firts fall. I had never seen a varroa population that large before and I never have since.
    Sam Comfort's story is similar when he was learning to breed queens. I think he said he treated with formic acid or something and there were windrows of mites on the bottom board where they fell down between the frames. This was not quite that bad, but there were many mites visible on bees and in open brood cells. This hive was descended from a nuc I bought from Dixie Bee Supply if it matters to anyone.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
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    1,789

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post

    Perhaps. I don't know. I'm more interested in the fact they survived rather than why.

    .
    Personally, if I planned on keeping bees I'd want to know why. Survival to succumb later from the same problem doesn't make sense to me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
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    5,033

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    I understand your sentiment Cam, and as I've said before, if you want to test, I'll host. But I have a bunch of other hives which are doing just fine and I have many better things to do. This hive can live or die on its own, but my focus is on breeders. This hive is not going to be one because it's not performing. Maybe a supersedure will help.

    And it kind of mirrors the feral hives I have around here which as far as I can tell are very small, living in small hollow trees. Swarms are typically very small in my immediate area, being smaller than half a 5-frame deep. So as you can imagine, survival is the only trait I want out of this hive, but survival is not something I breed for, by being treatment-free survival is more of a prerequisite. After that prerequisite is met, beekeeping for me is just like for everybody else, just without worrying about mite counts and rubber gloves. Now that I've begun grafting and have the ability to make massive numbers of increases and great leaps forward in breeding (compared to walkaway splits), little hives like this would probably be merged with more successful ones.

    This is an oddity of a hive, a neat-o moment. In the future, it probably wont even be allowed to happen because with increased efficiency comes decreased investment in oddities and greater focus on proven lines and sure things.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Calvert, Md,USA
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    1,701

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    In as much as you have this hive in your yard.(assuming) Do you feel the drone material/genes is worth while? Insufficient numbers to make a diff?
    Thanks
    Rick

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,696

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    A hive which can withstand high mite loads early in the season..ok. But can it withstand the onslaught of viruses to follow?
    I will be interested to see if this hive (as the parent colony) can perform the way a low mite load hive can....Honey production, fall healthy bees and winter survival. I guess those results will take a while to come in.
    A battle won now, but by the third winter, will the hive still win the battle, or will the mites win the war? Only time will tell

  12. #12
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    Jun 2010
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    Calvert, Md,USA
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    1,701

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    This is not meant to be confrontational or argumentative to anyone. Just a thought/statement if you will. I think the key statement in the OP is , "To let them go there." IMHO, that is key. How do you know if you don't.
    If this is a watershed for this hive, and it turned out to be the "Secretariat" of queens, we would all be in line to buy the next generation of queens. Do ya think?? Just something to consider.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    melvin,mi
    Posts
    188

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    A battle won now, but by the third winter, will the hive still win the battle, or will the mites win the war?


    sorry i vote that the mites will win

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Calvert, Md,USA
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    1,701

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    tbb39,
    You may very well be correct. Then I will know. My thoughts, for what they are worth to anyone, are, that I "rode" the treatment free wave for three years. I'm a back yard beek, I have enough hives I can make splits and keep it goin. They already made it farther than expected. Until the "magic bullet" comes along, this works for me. It is challenging, disheartening, but was I tickled when they made it and started over. I've got others that have "made it" as well.
    Anyway, I got no beef with treating per se. For me,,,,,the rewards are greater,,,for now

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Can someone please tell me why this thread is in TFB?
    all that is gold does not glitter

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Because the hive in question is a treatment-free colony and has been since it was created in 2007. It was posted by a treatment-free (exclusively) beekeeper, who linked to a treatment-free blog.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    3,403

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    When you have a treatment-free hive that is eaten up with Varroa, why not requeen it before it succumbs? Seems like that would avoid the risk of beetles/moths messing up the comb and also keep drones from that hive from mating and spreading their genes. In other words, what's the advantage of actually waiting around for it to die?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    I was not in the position to requeen when I discovered it. But the reason for letting it follow the natural progression is to see how far it can go. If I had requeened, I would not know how far they could take it. I fully expected them to succumb, but they have not yet. They may still.

    As time goes on and I reach my goal number of hives, such frivolities will most likely no longer be tolerated.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,280

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    Keep us posted on how this colony does, if you would please. Personally I hope it makes it.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
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    1,701

    Default Re: How many mites can a hive survive?

    I drew the line in the sand three years ago. Into the fourth. So, I'm a newbie for all intents and purposes. I have the "luxury" to "play" because what is the worst case scenario for me? Some hives die and I may not get much honey. Not a big deal to me. I am not in this hobby for copious amounts of honey. My "bee ego" is fed by paddling up stream,,at times with one oar. I am just fascinated by the bees. Anything new to try, ect. just keeps my interest alive. Having said that, "for me" ,,treating,,,,would be an un interesting thing to do. I have been called "nuts" on this forum,,,and crazy at the local bee club.
    I love it
    We all have to enjoy this hobby/profession, in what ever way it stimulates us, and go from there.

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