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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,875

    Lightbulb Survivor Bee Experiment?

    If one were to conduct an experiment to see if survivor bees could indeed survive the twin scourges of Nosema and Varroa without the use of chemical treatments AND beekeeper intervention, what would the experiment look like?

    Would it be a legitimate test of the bees ability to survive if they are kept on large cell comb (with underlying plastic foundation)?

    Does anyone know (and can they share what they know) of commercially available "survivor" queens that are free from possible/probable AHB influence? (I understand Purvis is taking orders for 2012)

    Is it reasonable to posit that bees of survivor stock can be used in place of non-survivor stock bees - the primary difference in beekeeper handling being that no chemical treatments and/or manipulations in lieu of chemical treatments are used - that otherwise the bees are kept as the non-survivor bees are - and still produce a honey crop?

    Thanks in advance for thoughtful responses.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    255

    Default Re: Survivor Bee Experiment?

    I am surprised you got no replies on this Andrew!

    I have been wondering the same thing...how would you go about it? I guess you can start with mother hives stocked with queens from lines reputed to be resistant already...that kind of bee is available in the USA and to a smaller extent, or less formal extent, in Canada. You could just let the strains mix, and put out the daughter queens with minimal support, and just see who gets through to the next winter. And then keep breeding from survivor stock.

    There are the details...would you assess for mite loads or disease? Would you put all hives on small cell/foundationless comb? Would you monitor tendency to swarm, hive numbers, buildup profile, honey yield?

    I suspect the first order of business is to find true survivor genes and go from there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,875

    Default Re: Survivor Bee Experiment?

    I ended up getting 8 packages from BeeWeaver in Texas. They built up slowly (on new equipment) and had no where near enough stores to make it through winter. So I have fed lots - 3 to 6 gallons of 2:1 sugar syrup per hive. Of note is 1 supercedure weeks after installation, and two failed colonies over the summer. One a drone layer or laying worker not discovered until it was too late, and the other looks like a late season abscond - very few bees and no queen left in the box. So 25% loss the first summer. The colonies were inspected last week by an inspector working for Tony Jadczak (Maine's Apiarist) and very few signs of virus were seen: a few brood cells were being chewed out; no obvious signs of dwv or anything else. No samples were taken for Nosema and no mite rolls were done. I generally do alcohol washes which are of course destructive and I have no wish to kill bees this time of year. I'll roll them for mites next June.

    The bees are on new Permadent foundation (5.2) with wax from my operation painted on to the foundation. The permadent is in new wooden frames.

    I will wrap these hives as I usually do with 15lb roofing felt and place 2" insulation between the inner and outer covers. (most likely next week)

    I hope to recover to 8 colonies next year in this yard by removing the queens from any colonies that build swarm cells and making nucs with them, then allowing the swarm cells to hatch and open mate.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,079

    Default Re: Survivor Bee Experiment?

    I have not heard of this permadent. I shall have to do some research.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Survivor Bee Experiment?

    I bought two three lb packages from BeeWeaver this spring. One package arrived through USPS late and 2/3 of the bees were dead. Weaver replaced the package quickly.
    Presently both hives have one deep and three supers filled with bees and honey. They are a bit aggressive. Of course I am a newbie and clumsy in my beekeeping skills.
    At the same time I bought a package from a CA located supplier and installed them in a top bar hive. This is a weak hive prone to Ant attacks. Again mis-managed by me. A mild winter and better management should turn them into a strong hive next spring.
    I now have two trap hives out and hope to catch some wild bees in the spring. Maybe from my hives as there seem to be few wild bees about. I plan to let my hives re-queen themselves, maybe buy some feral queens if I can find them. Unless they get to Africanized then they will become feral. Bees are kept all around me so that may not produce true ferals, I will just go with the flow since to me it is a hobby and to some degree helping restore feral bees in the area.
    All of these bees come from treatment free suppliers and no signs of disease at this time. Time will tell. All three have screened bottom boards and bottom entry points. This is a mild climate and no special prep will be made for winter outside assuring that the bees have enough stores.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,928

    Default Re: Survivor Bee Experiment?

    Any such experiment would be more valid with 30 hives or more left for 5 to 7 years. They would have to be centered in a "bee desert", an area surrounded by territory bees cannot inhabit. We have two or three such experiments in Florida. We did a mite roll on one apiary yesterday and there were only 3-5 in each hive and we only found 3 small hive beetles in one hive. They are also bringing in honey while the nearest managed hives are being fed. The reason for isolation is bees will move into used equipment. Usurpation is another concern in AHB areas. Monitoring and marking queens in those areas is essential. You can work these girls without a veil also.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Western Pennsylvania
    Posts
    2,071

    Default Re: Survivor Bee Experiment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    If one were to conduct an experiment to see if survivor bees could indeed survive the twin scourges of Nosema and Varroa without the use of chemical treatments AND beekeeper intervention, what would the experiment look like?
    Thanks in advance for thoughtful responses.
    Hi Andrew,

    I will be doing a similar experiment next spring.
    The plan is to test 6 feral stock and 6 commercial
    stock.

    The experiment will start with 12 feral colonies
    on 5.1 mm foundation, caught between May
    1 and May 15, and 6 requeened with commercial
    queens sometime around the middle of May.

    Will be checking mite loads once per month.

    I will be monitoring the growth stage
    (first 16 weeks)
    At least once a month checking:

    weight
    seams filled bees
    total brood area

    Best Wishes
    Joe Waggle
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/FeralBeeProject/
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/H...eybeeArticles/

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