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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,314

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    "Changed" is a better word for them. They had to evolve to handle Varroa and other issues. The ones we have out here now are some hardy bees for the most part. Mine need no treatment at all - never did - even from the start. Now they may not always be the best honey producers, but take what you can get. Wild bees are mostly free, if you count out the cost of gas and labor.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,029

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Quote Originally Posted by rbees View Post
    Sure there have been...Look what happened to all the feral colonies on foundation less comb when varroa arrived? For all practical purposes, they became extinct.
    Maybe that happened in your part of the world, but there were no slump in numbers of feral colonies over here, and maybe even a few more than usual. And, sure perhaps some of that may be attributed to AHB, but not all.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-31-2012 at 04:12 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    1,449

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    I think, any cell size foundation is different from "foundationless". Making connections between natural honey comb in feral colonies with any size cell foundation is wrong because natural (foundationless) comb has cells of different size - whichever bees needed at the moment. ANY foundation restrains bees needs (if any) in natural comb. As for Varroa -it is similar to what was happened to native people in America when Europeans bring in their diseases - huge number of native people dies from syphilis etc. introduced by Europeans. But some - survived and do exist these days. Same with bees - at the beginning, they were unprepared and many dies but with time, they developed means to exist with mites. Adaptation takes time and many cycles of reproduction. Any animal/human is more vulnerable to disease when stressed out. It is true for bees also - unstressed bees has better resistance to any disease in general. I read in the books that making a natural comb is stress relive for bees. If it is true, than foundationless approach may have sense - it releases the stress and made bees more immune against diseases and parasites including Varroa. It is just my theory. I am sure that many factors contributed to bee survival. Argument that feral bees extinct is simply not true. We need to understand that these rare "survival" bees are precious because they could help to find solution for mites. Sergey

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,314

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    As far as AHB goes, I am not fully convinced the addition of their genetics has been a bad thing for these ferals. We just need to keep breeding them for better temperament and production. Heck, at one point we had Tunisian Bees here in Southern NM, probably from the Spanish. I bet they are still here somewhere. African genes have been here a long, long time IMHO. I'll keep my small wild bees, thank you. They may have some behavior issues occasionally, but they are way hardy.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,220

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Honey bees in North America, with a few excpetions, have a very "shallow gene pool" -- to whit, not very many were brought over initially, and the African bees that got loose in Brazil were descended from 5 or six queens, not millions.

    The result is that there is very little genetic diversity in feral bees compared to Europe, where they are native. Varroa was a huge problem because there were very few hives that were initially resistant to the mites, and the mites had not evolved yet to be parasitic rather than lethal. This causes massive dieoffs of hives, especially in places where very large numbers of hives were generated in large apiaries that were fairly isolated (California, for instance) since the hives were all closely related.

    Eventually, we will get bees that tolerate mites pretty well simply by natural selection and beekeepers breeding from hives that have low mite levels. Probably several mechanisms, from increased aggressiveness toward phoretic mites to hygeinic behavior to shorter brood development times and hence failure of the mites to mature in the capped brood. I have seen very few mites on either swarm I collected this year, so we may be making progress with that.

    As far as cell size goes, the only effect size would have would be to change the time it takes for the capped brood to mature. If small bees emerge a day or so sooner than large bees, fewer mites. If the time the cells are capped doesn't change, likely the mite load won't either.

    Funny thing I see, is that I have a range of bee size on one swarm and not the other. Initially, there were quite a few small bees, but I expected them to vanish over the summer since I put them on foundation. instead, I still have some smaller bees in that hive, not as many as originally, but still enough to notice. Never had a shortage of pollen, so it wasn't protein deficiency making them small, and so far as I can tell, the brood nest is all the same size cells, I've not actually measured and won't unless they die off for some reason. Not likely, they filled two mediums with brood and honey in a serious dearth, very active bees.

    Peter

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,314

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    I am not sure it's the cell size on my wildish bees or the fact that I have visually witnessed them grooming mites off each other that let's them survive so well. More than likely it is both.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sullivan, MO
    Posts
    827

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    I'm in agreement with others who have mentioned on here that it is more than just "small cell". I am foundationless and the last hive I lost was to starvation in november (should have checked them in fall and added feed, opps my fault). People get all worried about too many drones or drone comb. Like the bees don't know what they are doing. Yeah I know more mouths to feed. As I've said in the past, move the drone comb to position 1 and 10 and the bees will use them when they need them. As for too many drones, Whose drones would you rather have out there effecting the area genetics, yours (who you must like or why do you have them),or joe shmoe's down the road who you don't know what he has. Or the AFBs?

    Rod

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Starkville, MS, USA
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    While reading the thread, I noticed that the article by Seeley et al has not been discussed.
    Seeley, Thomas D. and Griffin, Sean R. 2011. Small-cell comb does not control Varroa mites in colonies of honeybees of European origin. Apidologie 42:526-532, DOI: 10.1007/s13592-011-0054-4.
    Abstract
    We tested the idea that Varroa destructor can be controlled in colonies of the European subspecies of Apis mellifera by providing them with combs built of small cells, in which immature mites might have difficulty developing for lack of space. We established seven pairs of equal-size colonies that started out equally infested with mites. In each pair, one hive contained only standard-cell (5.4 mm) comb, and the other contained only small-cell (4.8 mm) comb. We measured the colonies' mite loads at monthly intervals across a summer. No differences arose between the two treatment groups in their mean mite loads (mites per 100 worker bees or mite drop per 48 h). We suggest that providing small-cell combs did not inhibit mite reproduction because the fill factor (thorax width/cell width) was only slightly higher in the small cells than in the standard cells (79% and 73%, respectively).

    Link to article pdf here:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/8g697443p6274022/

    This article does not support the idea that small cell reduces Varroa mites. I did notice that when using the plastic foundation for the small cell arm of the study, the small cell group did not build up like the non-small cell group with the bee numbers at the end of the summer being half or less than the controls. All the small cell colonies died that winter with a good portion of the non-small cell hives surviving. This poor buildup and subsequent total failure to winter begs the question "was it the plastic comb?". I have read reports that some queens just don't like the plastic combs. The scientific studies are tending to show that cell size as a single variable does not suppress the mite population in the first summer. It would have been nice if the small cell colonies would have survived the winter and the study continued for subsequent years.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,197

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    I can't prove what it is, but I have 9 hives going into winter (one from a split that I doubt will make it) and the only thing I've done is give them some SC comb. I went to put reducers/mice guards on and noticed most of them had some pupa and DWV victims laying at the entrance, so I know these hives are dealing with a noticeable mite load. I see this every fall, yet most pull through the winter and become my summer hives.
    Regards, Barry

  10. #30
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,643

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    I can't prove what it is, ... noticed most of them had some pupa and DWV victims laying at the entrance, so I know these hives are dealing with a noticeable mite load. I see this every fall, yet most pull through the winter and become my summer hives.
    I can say the same thing about my SC hives AND my LC hives.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,197

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    No, I believe you've said in the past that all your SC hives died.
    Regards, Barry

  12. #32
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,643

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    No, I believe you've said in the past that all your SC hives died.
    That was winter 09-10. This last year, some of both sc and lc pulled through, but most died. I don't know the percentage of sc VS lc success, but the sc don't show any obvious higher success rate. I see the age of queen being the most important success in recent wintering of my bees. One small cell bait from summer 2011 flew strong until this September, and now has had weeks of DWV losses. Next to it is a lc hive with a young queen from a removal job, boiling with bees and collecting a fall flow.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Quote Originally Posted by TooFarGone View Post
    While reading the thread, I noticed that the article by Seeley et al has not been discussed.
    Actually, we've discussed the Seeley study at length a number of times in this forum. The Seeley study invalidates itself by using plastic comb and assuming that it's the same in all ways as wax comb. If they wanted an objective study, they should have used some other size plastic comb as a control.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Wade, I am not so sure about that. I met a lady recently who gets bees in her deck every year...they die out every winter, but every spring, a swarm comes along and moves in. And by now, after several seasons, it is the ultimate swarm lure...small opening, interior loaded with old comb and probably honey, queen scent/bee scent, dry, 15' off the ground and even south facing. I had a peek at this year's bees and they are big...they look like bees that swarmed out of someone's hive.

    So while there must be bees out there that are truly overwintering survivors, you would have to watch closely to see if the hive just died out and was repopulated by a spring swarm.

    We should have more experimental beeyards out there with hives set up in the hope some may survive without intervention.

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    Small cell may have advantages beyond mite suppression. Advantages worth studying:

    Do small cell hives support larger forager populations?
    If so, do larger small cell forager populations put up more honey?
    Are small cell bees more efficient...ie. is smaller brood is lest costly to raise? Smaller cells less costly to construct? Recover from setbacks more quickly or easily??
    Do small cell queens and drones make for superior mating dynamics?
    Does small cell and/or foundationless supply other benefits of some kind...ie less stress, better stress handling?

    Plenty of topics to keep those Masters and PhD candidates occupied...

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,314

    Default Re: Foundationless studies

    I have often wondered if small cell gives the advantage of more bees and a larger field force. It would seem logical. Not only that, but they would be able to take advantage of smaller flowers theoretically.

    A few of the wild hives I have removed have come from places where the bees have been documented to overwinter year after year, but just as many have come from obvious swarm hives.

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