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  1. #1
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Brood breaks for mite control

    Does anybody have any scientific evidence that brood breaks in the hive has any significant value in the reduction of varoa mites. I know it is touted to be a tool in the treatment of mites but have not found this to be the case in the hives I keep. considering when a queen is removed that egg laying ceases for about 30 days the mites that hatch would become phoretic until the new queen starts producing brood and then its just back to business for the mites. So no increase in mites in that period but also no increase in bee's so are not back where we started 30 days ago.
    Johno

  2. #2
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Your points are well taken Johno. I have no scientific evidence that a simple interruption helps control varroa and it may do little unless you are at the same time reducing the population of your larger hives by making splits. A brood break when using cells is about a 3 week gap. It is going to expose pretty much all varroa (with the exception of some in drone brood) to a variable phoretic period of anywhere between a few hours up to 2 weeks. This certainly can't be a good thing for mite populations. I don't understand all the mechanics of what is going on in a brood break but I know large hives early in the season allowed to continue to grow without treatment fare far worse through the season than hives that we're made up as a 3 to 4 comb untreated nuc in the early spring. I just think its simple math relating to the exponential growth of varroa in a hive through a long season.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Thanks for your reply Jim, and I go along with creating many nuc's from a large hive will devide the mite poulation among the nuc's and with the many queens will soon out pace the growth of the mite population but at some point in the fall the brood poulations will slow and the mites will catch up so unless the bee's themselves slow down the mites or the beekeeper takes some sort of action the mites will win. So mmaybe splitting into nuc's is just a delaying action.
    Johno

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    If it delays the mite population from reaching "critical mass" until after you have removed the honey crop then that in itself is a victory. That is what a brood break is intended to do, delay the reproduction so you have more mite free bees later in the year. At that point you can evaluate the mite loads and make a decision whether or not the mite loads are high enough to consider some sort of treatment.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    now that i have a method for taking mite counts (alcohol shaker), my current plan is to take mite counts after the spring/summer harvest.

    if i find a colony with high mites, (not sure what that is yet, but say > 4 mites/100 bees), the queen gets pinched.

    most of the brood in the now queenless hive will be allowed to hatch, and i'll sugar dust them to get rid of the phoretic mites.

    if i am still raising queens, the remains of that colony will be divided up into mating nucs.

    if i am through raising queens, hopefully i'll have a promising nuc to combine with the 'treated' colony.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
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    Jun 2010
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    Summerville Ga. USA
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    116

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIYz65Vquxg

    This video would be helpful. The way I understand it is when the new queen starts to lay the mites overload the first few thousand cells she lays in and use up all of the nutrition and die along with the host bee. So 1000 bees will take down 5 or 10 times that many mites. Sounds like a plan to me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
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    660

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    We don't have mites in Australia, but I would try moving the queen to different boxes in the hive.

    Two ways:
    1. Have three brood boxes and the move the queen between the bottom one and the top one every 3-4 weeks. When you move her also move the queen excluder above the bottom brood box or below the top brood box so she can't get into the middle box.

    2. Have 2x2 story brood boxes right next to each other and move the queen between them every 3-4 weeks. Have supers centred above the two side by side boxes. It just means you need two bases and you need to make two half width roofs.

    Matthew Davey

  8. #8
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    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    I would keep in mind, phoretic mites are also the most vulnerable. W/O capped brood they all become susceptible to being groomed or knocked off in flight, which probably decreases the population fairly rapidly if you bees groom well.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Here are two overall reports about Varroa mites from two universities.
    http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/....03%20copy.pdf
    http://www.clemson.edu/extension/bee...rol_in_sc.html

    I only saw a short one sentence comment from Clemsen that mentioned a brood break as a means of control.

    NCSU does have another paper that does mention caging a queen.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Thanks for the replies, but it appears we are only looking at untested theories as far as brood breaks are concerned. WE really need to investigate this further, in 2013 I will set aside a few hives and do some mite counts before and after brood breaks and see for myself what comes of it.
    Johno

  11. #11
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    If you have a mare and you're raising a foal every year and you take a break for a year will you get less foals? Of course. I haven't looked for research but I'm sure there is some. However I do not do purposeful brood breaks. I don't have Varroa issues to deal with.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If you have a mare and you're raising a foal every year and you take a break for a year will you get less foals? Of course. I haven't looked for research but I'm sure there is some. However I do not do purposeful brood breaks. I don't have Varroa issues to deal with.
    I think you are missing the point of the OP which is inquiring what mechanism actually increases the effect of a brood break beyond the simple delay in brood rearing. Think of it more as what a traffic light does to traffic when it goes red. Sure cars back up for a bit but does it actually reduce traffic. In the case of varroa, I believe there is an advantage but I cant prove it, perhaps its just rebuilding your bees into a smaller unit with smaller populations that gives you the biggest benefit. I can only say since we have begun such a program our mite numbers are lower and the quality of our bees has improved.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Uh-oh. Barry must have slept in this morning. Looks like we have a duplicate thread going.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
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    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    I did! I told my wife last night I wasn't going to get out of bed in the morning till 9:00! Been getting up too early the last week and then falling asleep in my recliner in the evening. I'm still too young for that! LOL Thanks for the heads up.
    Regards, Barry

  15. #15
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post

    most of the brood in the now queenless hive will be allowed to hatch, and i'll sugar dust them to get rid of the phoretic mites.
    And this is one of the biggest advantages of breaking the brood cycle. I am not a believer in routine PS treatments, but targeted PS treatments as squarepeg points out can be very helpful.

  16. #16
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    Dec 2009
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    Blacksburg, VA
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    416

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Since it does interrupt varroa population build up, it could be used as one more technique to give your bees an edge.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Absolutely, and the 3 week brood break followed by some sort of knockdown treatment is an effective way to control mites. A ps dusting, though, is only going to have a lot of effect if the bees can be fairly far removed from where the mites will ultimately end up when they are knocked down though. Powdered sugar is going to displace a lot of mites but may not ultimately kill very many though. Hopguard, OA, just to name a couple options would kill them if that is the route you choose. We are, however, straying from the OP who was wondering just how a simple brood break actually works to control varroa.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  18. #18
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Once again thanks for the replies, To Michael and the mare and foal analogy I would ask that if the mare and foal are tick infested would the mare not foaling reduce the tick infestation? If we are considering mite treatment I would agree that after the removal of a queen creating a break would be an ideal time for treatment when there is no brood present.
    Johno

  19. #19
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    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Here's a question, what's the lifespan of a phoretic mite? i.e.. mite emerges from brood, how long can it survive phoretically before either dying or becoming unviable.

  20. #20
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    I believe the mite in the phoretic stage can live for 2 months, I seem to remember an article claiming that they can live longer than that, anyway 2 months seems long enough to re infest a hive.
    Johno

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