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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    For the past couple of decades, here in the Marana/Picture Rocks area of Southern Arizona I have never treated, and have had very little problem with mites. Others have made some suggestions as to why this may be. After giving it lots of thought for a few years, my best hypothesis involves the fact that my bees are located on the Northern border of a very large National Park, and the nearest agriculture is at least six, or more miles away in the other direction.

    I have been wondering if any other treatment-free bees have been kept in similar conditions for extended periods, and how they have responded.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,767

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    joe, you had mentioned having started with feral stock, and breeding in carnolians for more workability.

    perhaps the resistance you observe has been brought in by those ferals.

    also, it seems intuitive that you would have lots of ferals nearby, lending their drones to mate with your queens.

    do the folks you supply with queens continue to have this success with mites?

    i would be interested in knowing what the mite levels are in apiaries like yours, (treatment free for years, and few if any losses from mites).

    i think that seeing what mite levels are tolerated by such bees would be helpful to establish a goal or benchmark.

    would you be willing to sacrifice a few bees next summer to see?
    Last edited by squarepeg; 12-14-2012 at 12:26 PM. Reason: added 'few'
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    705

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    Well Joseph I assume your also not buying package bees every year either. Perhaps you are isolated to a degree that helps protect your bees. Randy Oliver was here a couple years ago and he published an article in ABJ saying that the bees in NM had very low mite loads. I always thought we are very hot and dry in the summer and maybe that helps keep them to a manageable level. I see them in my hives but I have not treated either.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,890

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    Seems like Dee Lusby has had pretty good success and has never treated either. She is in your neck of the woods. I wonder how much effect the hot, dry conditions help. Also I wonder how much AHB influences the survival of hives.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,084

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    Also I wonder how much AHB influences the survival of hives.
    I wondered the same thing seeing where Joseph is from. Is it wrong to assume that feral colonies in AZ are AHB?
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    705

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    The bees in his area are much more susceptible to AFB influence. We are at 7200' here and we don't see a lot of those genetics in my area. The southern part of our state is different though. As I recall Joseph re-introduces queens frequently, but you'd have to ask him how he manages.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    squarepeg,
    I think you may be confusing me with someone else.

    In my first decade, here, I worked only with local feral bees, probably AHB. Then I finally grew thoroughly tired of dealing with the many annoying behaviors that local feral bees displayed (they were likely AHB). So I completely replaced all of the feral bees and worked diligently to remove almost all of their influence by bringing in Italian Cordovan's. Saturating my breeding area with Cordovan drones, then raising queens and only keeping those that produced colonies with no feral influence (at least as far as the many obvious feral behavioral attributes).

    There have always been a few Varroa mites evident, but before switching to Italian Cordovan's, and now after, the Varroa mites haven't caused any obvious problems, despite never using any 'treatments'.

    <joe, you had mentioned having started with feral stock, and breeding in carnolians for more workability.>
    I think you mean Carniolan's. Actually it's Italian Cordovan's that I switched to and use. And I use the Cordovan color trait to help ensure my bees are entirely free of any feral influence.

    <perhaps the resistance you observe has been brought in by those ferals.>
    It is possible that my local feral bees have picked up the Cordovan trait (masking their true identity), but that isn't likely to be the case, since at least some of their other undesirable traits would still be obvious - I doubt that the Cordovan color trait would mask all undesirable behavioral traits.

    <also, it seems intuitive that you would have lots of ferals nearby, lending their drones to mate with your queens.>
    I'm not so sure that there are any long term feral bees surviving here. Our climate and bee forage in the low desert (outside of agricultural areas, as I am), in many years, is nearly non-existent, as it has been recently. The mesquite flow is the only one I can really count on, and the bees almost always use up any significant stores they collect from mesquite, by late Summer or early Autumn. So I usually feed them a little, frequently, through the Winter, as I'm doing now - to get them through to Spring. There are exceptions, some years there is good rain through the Summer and Winter too. More often there isn't enough rain for good ancillary flows either Summer or Winter.

    I'm fairly confident that long term survival of feral colonies, in my immediate vicinity, is unlikely. AHB colonies, survive by relocating to better pastures, in environments like this one.

    <do the folks you supply with queens continue to have this success with mites?>
    I have only heard mostly good reports from those using my queens, but some of those customers are using various treatments.

    <i would be interested in knowing what the mite levels are in apiaries like yours, (treatment free for years, and few if any losses from mites).>
    Perhaps, this coming season I will do some tests of mite levels. Yours is the first reason I've heard, to inspire me with an actual reason to do those tests/counts.

    <i think that seeing what mite levels are tolerated by such bees would be helpful to establish a goal or benchmark.>
    At least it would help satisfy some curiosity.

    <would you be willing to sacrifice a few bees next summer to see?>
    I'm going to tentatively commit to doing some mite counts/testing for colony Varroa mite levels. I will read up on the various techniques and put together a plan to use for 2013.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,767

    Default Re: Varroa mites never seem to be much of a problem

    many thanks joseph, yes, i was confusing carniolan for cordovan.

    i am hoping that maybe others who are bees are treatment free and dealing successfully with the mite will also consider measuring as well.

    i have only used it once, but the double plastic jar with the screen in between (alcohol wash) was fast and easy. it also yields a number that is easy to compare with others.

    thanks again for being willing to share this information.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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