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  1. #21
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    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,213

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    The first part of my working life was spent in an accounting office which taught me that I hate counting, and for that reason I avoid counting mites. I am hopeful that incorporating a brood break and keeping bees in 5 over 5 frame nucs will allow me to avoid worrying about mites.
    I think that between Mike Palmers (MP) nuc method, and Mel Disselkoen's "Outbreeding the mite theory" is the sweet spot in maintaining an apiary free of mite treatments.
    Mike's nucleus methods are well documented here, but Mel's are less so. The OP asked if there was any scientific evidence to support the brood break as a viable method of mite control, and in a nutshell I haven't seen any.
    MP observes that his nucs don't need treating for mites but doesn't posit any theories as to why, and in addition to the nucs he overwinters colonies in 2 deeps and a medium (if memory serves).
    Mel starts a fresh queen laying after June 22 from a split, and overwinters in a single here in the midwest. Roland overwinters in a single. I am overwintering the majority of my colonies in 5 over 5 frame nucs.
    5 of my 18 nucs did not get a brood break this summer, and I am curious to see their survival rate as compared to my others that by spring will have endured two brood breaks - the one where their queen emerged and waited then mated and the other enforced by winter.
    I haven't treated my production colonies for mites. I have 11/12 alive so far in 10 frame equipment. Yesterday it was -16F in the morning, and all my mites are phoretic. If my production colonies live I intend to take a leaf out of MP's book (please hurry up and write one) and use the best as a basis for nuc making. I will consider surviving production colonies a bonus, otherwise I think of them as caretakers of comb for next years splits.
    I will throw out another complimentary theory here that comes from processing the anecdotal evidence from the extensive experience of MP, Mel, and Roland. What if the answer is what the bees tell as when they want to swarm? They want a cavity the size of a single deep. They want this volume because it is the size that they have evolved to overwinter in most successfully, and, for undetermined reasons, this volume best suits the bee and the numbers therein least suit the mites.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Lewiston Idaho USA
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    57

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Perhaps this is a crazy idea but what would happen if one did the following for a mite infested hive.

    1. Remove all the brood comb and freeze it.
    2. While the comb is freezing, treat the hive with oxalic acid vapor.

    It would seem that type of brood break would greatly reduce mite populations if not elliminate them.

    Tony

  3. #23
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,341

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    >Sure cars back up for a bit but does it actually reduce traffic.

    Traffic is not the same thing. Cars are not having babies. During the "red light" the Varroa are not reproducing. Most people doing a brood break are making a break of at least three to four weeks and that is three to four weeks that the Varroa are not reproducing. That is a lot less mites.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #24
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    True, bad analogy on my part. The crux of the thread, though, is if there is something more at play during a brood break that complicates varroa reproduction rather than a simple delay for the period of time in which there is no larvae of the proper age for mites to infest.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 01-04-2013 at 07:45 AM. Reason: UNQ
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #25
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    154

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Tony that is the theory about frames of drone comb, mites are supposed to prefer drone cells over worker cells. I dont know the ratio you would find between mites in drone cells and worker cells, but the freezing of capped drone cells is another recomended practice.

  6. #26
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    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,219

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    I think it is accepted that brood break effect the mite population. There is good info on MDA Splitter site that shows mite populations and brood breaks.
    http://www.mdasplitter.com/

    The increase of a mortality rate or decrease of birth rates by a few percent either way can make the difference between extinction of a species. Right now the honey bee at best is holding its own. I believe feral bees are on the comeback. Maybe brood break after swarm season is a contributing factor. I will even bet that our beek practices such as treatments for bees that canít survive on their own is hindering the feral bees by cross breed inferior bees with them.
    When a brood break takes place the phoretic mites move into the last of the open brood, often 5 or 6 mites in one cell. This will kill the brood and halt mite reproduction. This will also happen again when egg laying starts up. During this time mites still die naturally. You just might not be the same results in a different location due to other factors. Humidity is a factor in mite growth percentages. Different genes have different mite tolerances. A break in brood in the winter combined with a break in spring/summer should knock down mites more. Mites also are seasonal with growth peaking in September. And there are factors we donít even know about that affect the mite reproduction rates. Hives in one part of the country may take 3 years for mite to kill a hive and other parts may take 6 months.


    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    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
    I think I heard over 6 month, they can winter on the bees and out live the bees.

  7. #27
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    I think it is accepted that brood break effect the mite population. There is good info on MDA Splitter site that shows mite populations and brood breaks.
    http://www.mdasplitter.com/

    When a brood break takes place the phoretic mites move into the last of the open brood, often 5 or 6 mites in one cell. This will kill the brood and halt mite reproduction. This will also happen again when egg laying starts up. During this time mites still die naturally. You just might not be the same results in a different location due to other factors. Humidity is a factor in mite growth percentages. Different genes have different mite tolerances. A break in brood in the winter combined with a break in spring/summer should knock down mites more.
    This makes complete sense. Sort of like overloading a life boat, there has to be a "tipping point" where suddenly everyone drowns.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #28
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    154

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Maybe it is accepted by some that brood breaks effect mite population, but a theory is not accepted until proven and I have not seen any lierature that lays out the proof of this. I have not seen any results of mite counts before and after brood breaks so I tend to remain skeptical. Bearing in mind that the mites breed at a ratio of at least 2:1 so Mels theory works when you continue splitting hives into nuc's and therefore stay ahead of the mite breeding curve like a ponzi setup sooner or later the mites will catch up unless something else plays a part.
    Johno

  9. #29
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Johno: Perhaps you would want to lay out the specifics of what you tried. Time of year, length of break, length of brooding season, size of hives, estimated mite loads at the time you began etc., did you do it to all the hives in a given location or just some?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #30
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    154

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Jim,I I started 2012 with 9 hives and for swarm prevention when swarm cells appeared in March through july the queen and some bee's were removed and hived in nuc's thi happened with 7 hives, the other 2 were packages that grew fast and swarmed.I caught them and hived them in August. They were the first hives I treated with formic acid and a fume board with large mite drops. theoretically there mite loads should have been relatively light after the brood break. I have been Requeening hives with Daughters from my carni queen and also from a VP spartan queen so there have been brood breaks in my hives throughout the year. Unfotunately I have not been sampling bee's for mite loads, and by seeing evidence of mites have been treating with formic acid and counting the mite fall. however I think I am going to hve to sample mite loads before and after any thing that I do and document the results to reach a conclusion as to what works or not. I must admit that I do not accept some of the stories that abound unless it is a proven theory, must be my suspicious nature or as Americans say just plain ornery
    Johno

  11. #31
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    >sample mite loads before and after any thing that I do and document the results to reach a conclusion as to what works or not.

    good plan johno.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #32
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    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,219

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    "I have not been sampling bee's for mite loads" This would be why you are not seeing results. Just a break in brood by its self may not be enough. Some Beek use a break in brood along with some else like a soft treatment on phoretic mites or drone removal...
    I don't sample either the thought of counting mites every day sounds terrible and that's not why I am a beek, a quick look in the SBB tells allot about a hive.

    "I have been Requeening hives with Daughters from my carni queen and also from a VP spartan queen" Maybe your genes contribute to you results. I bet MB bee's contribute to his results.

    The feral bees for example were almost wiped by the mites. They were doing the same thing then as now, same spring swarms... But for some reason or combination of reasons they are on the rise.

    I have no scientific evidence but there must be something to it. You don't get that many Beeks to agree and anything. That alone must be scientific evidence.

  13. #33
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    2,667

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    Jim,I I started 2012 with 9 hives and for swarm prevention when swarm cells appeared in March through july the queen and some bee's were removed and hived in nuc's
    This type of break does not permit a true broodless period and therefore would not be as effective as a true 28 day broodless period. You're saying that you made splits with queen cells that were already present, which means that you might have a laying queen in roughly 16 days. You would still have plenty of capped brood at the end of this period. When I attempt to induce a broodless period I make a cut-down split and make sure there are no queen cells present at the time of the split. You can either allow the colony to produce a queen or when sufficient time has passed introduce a cell. In VA the ideal time to make this brood break is in early June once the main spring flow has ended.

  14. #34
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    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    154

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Guys thanks for your replies, but once again all the info is based on assumption, what is required is some documented facts. To start at what percentage of population is the mite load critical Clemson gives it at 5% if much above this the hive can be lost, so at some point some manipulations will work, above that point not. As to the feral bee story and the increase of such I suggest it might be in step with the growth of new beekeepers. Considering that all 9 of my hives in 2012 would of swarmed and yet very few of surrounding hives were seen to swarm. I must admit I am home most afternoons during the summer months and have my home hives in full view frommy lounge glass doors. As far as the genetic part goes it still amazes me that a feral hive with no help from man say Brother Adam could outperform domestic hives that are being reared for specific genetic traits. Does not really add up? What I am really trying to get at is that beekeepers should try to document more of the facts in procedures and manipulations than rely on he said she said.
    Johno

  15. #35
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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 think part of the issue is 'feral' hasn't really been researched and I agree with johno on this one, how many of these feral hives are true descendents of wild survivors and how many are from someone else's bees going free and if they truly are feral survivors what's being done to catalog this information.

  16. #36
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    The original question was if and if so how do brood breaks control varroa. I think both Astro Bee and myself gave some good accounts of how it seems to work in our operations and some suggestions for how johno might be able to implement it as well. Others have chimed in with logical observations of the mechanics of how it may well work. If scientific proof is required before trying any of these suggestions then I am not sure there is much more to be accomplished in this thread. I think brood breaks when properly done are generally accepted in the industry as being beneficial, and are about as uncontroversial a subject as you can find in mite control. I run lots and lots of hives in this manner. A brood break will be the only means of mite control I will use until fall. I dont feel the need to prove anything to anyone I am just relating my experiences. Take them for what they are worth.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    What I am really trying to get at is that beekeepers should try to document more of the facts in procedures and manipulations than rely on he said she said.
    Johno
    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    I think part of the issue is 'feral' hasn't really been researched and I agree with johno on this one, how many of these feral hives are true descendents of wild survivors and how many are from someone else's bees going free and if they truly are feral survivors what's being done to catalog this information.
    johno, 100% agree, i started keeping careful notes last year.

    jrg, i asked mike bush about this, and he felt like the 'ferals' we have today are pretty much 'mutts'.

    but, it's likely that these 'feral mutt survivors' are developing resistant traits by natural selection, and these bees can help to introduce these traits into managed colonies via drones and open mating.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #38
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    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    154

    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Guys, alot to think about in your posts, some times I sits and thinks and some times I just sits and its hard to tell the diff. Jim it would be good to know what the mite load is before a brood break and you would be counting phoretic mites and a count after the brood break should realy be a higher count or perhaps remain at the same level because the mites in the brood will emerge and all become phoretic, and there are so many unknown parameters there that can sway the outcome because the amount of mites in the bood is not known. I also think that you are treating in fall, also how do you do your queen breaks, I woul think that a queen cell into ahive would be a sufficient brood break after leaving the hive queenless for a week.Squarepeg as for feral hives around this part of the world I think most of them are from the same mutts that have been coming into this area for the past 5 years and I do not think their natural selection is any better than the USDA, Cobey and others that I can not remember names of.
    But 25 years down the varoa road we do not have a lot of data to rely on. You can just about pick any system of hive management and you find as many beekeepers claiming it does not work as claiming that it does So in the end dont trust verify. This means a lot of record keeping I am afraid But it is a poor wind that does not bring good to someone so maybe I will glean some good from all of this.
    Johno

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    >Squarepeg as for feral hives around this part of the world I think most of them are from the same mutts that have been coming into this area for the past 5 years and I do not think their natural selection is any better than the USDA, Cobey and others that I can not remember names of.

    true johno, but the thing is that unmanaged bees in the wild which have survived winter, and are able to continue through a season or two, at least have something going for them genetically, regardless of what strain they started out as.

    it could be there are wild bees in your area that have been around for longer than five years. again, there's a lack of solid scientific research on that.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #40
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    Feb 2006
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    Default Re: Brood breaks for mite control

    Here is the basic math with brood breaks. A ripe cell (10 to 11 days after grafting) will net you a laying queen in about 2 weeks. Larvae old enough to be invaded by varroa is around 8 to 9 days old. That gives you an 18 to 20 day break. If you want something longer than you can delay the introduction of your cell or mated queen accordingly keeping in mind that the gestation of worker brood is about 21 days and drone brood about 24. We do mite checks (doing either an ether roll or alcohol shake) at about 20 days after removing the queen to determine if a treatment is worthwhile and in recent years and have found very few mites. I hesitate to do any treatment at this stage with a young queen just getting started.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

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