If we are to look at thi from a militaristic view, as if we are at war with the mites, we would look for it's inherent weakness. I believe it to be inbreeding. Correct me if I am wrong, but does not the breeding all occur inside the capped cell? If so, then as the gene pool becomes more "local" over time, I suspect we are seeing more inbred mites that are less viral. This supported by the results of the experiment on that Danish island, where the hives died back , then leveled off at a sparse level. They had inbred. Mr. Borst speaks of bringing in a feral survivor hive into a commercial apiary, and having it immediately collapse. Again, the survivor had inbred mites, and when they crossed with the commercial mites, hybrid vigor resumed.
How does this tie in? If the first apiary(possibly TF) has adapted(inbred) mites, and the second apiary begins to collapse, that is far, but not too far,those mites brought back back by the robbers will have a compound effect. Not only will there be an increase in the number of mites in the first yard, but in a sort time the vigor of the offspring will will increase when two mites, one from each apiary are in a cell, and the son of a mite from the first apiary mates with the daughter from the second apiary and vise verse(sp?).
Did any of that make sense?
thats crazy enough it did make sense
but thats just Crazy Roland talk
I would even go so far as to modify my list.
It you claim:
- I donít test for mites
- Mites arenít a problem in my bees.
We donít have much to discuss because you really donít have any idea how big of an issue varroa are in your bees.
This thread started as, what appeared, an honest question about who commercially was running any treatment free hives. It has now broken down into the well worn tf vs conventional arguments. Iím betting that every last tf beekeeper who has entered the discussion is maintaining less than 50 hives. Thereís a message in there, Iím thinkiní.
Best to ya
Dan, The above post appears to be a claim by you that you are saying
Mites aren’t a problem in my bees. Yet that is one of the two statement you woudl use to disqualify someone from a conversation about mites. Unless of source the two must go together. "I don't have problems with mites so I don't test for mites".
All work and no play makes a happy bee.
I think Dan is saying that there is a certain critical mass of hives that one needs in order to establish the necessity of treating. I tend to agree and I am not looking down my nose at people with a small number of hives as some of the most knowledgeable beekeepers I know have less than 50 hives.
Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy. Benjamin Franklin
This has been an enjoyable thread.
Roland, your analogy is in line with the thinking of other researchers. Mites do not appear to suffer from inbreeding depression the way we look at it in honey bees. If we substitute “virulence” in place of inbreeding your concept fits with the work of others, such as Tom Seeley. He studied feral colonies that were surviving and asked the question of whether it was due to increased resistance on the part of the honey bees, or lower virulence on the part of the mites. His results suggest it may be lower virulence by the mites.
If I may jump to another analogy like a virus, maybe this will be easier for me to explain. If a virus infects an individual and there are lots of other individuals around (think high population density like commercial beekeeping) then it works for the virus to be virulent and kill the host quickly because it will quickly come in contact and be passed on to the next host. But if virus is virulent and kills the host quickly in a low density situation like most hobbyist beekeepers experience then perhaps the virus dies out with the individual before it ever comes in contact with another potential host. Varroa may be acting in a similar manner as you suggest. Varroa is subject to selection too.
I still think Varroa and everything associated with it present the greatest risk to commercial beekeepers. I have not treated my population the last several years, but I worked up to it gradually. I lost bees while treating and lose more without treatment. However, I have adjusted and am able to rebuild numbers quickly. For me it is a management choice to place greater selection pressure on the lines. I do not claim Varroa resistance by any stretch, but I am able to test and evaluate lines under constant Varroa loads. My lines then go into commercial operations where they are subjected to Varroa and other stresses. It is hard to advocate for treatment free in commercial setting when I see what it is like in my operation, but to each their own.
I am certainly not looking down my nose at small beekeepers. I'm one myself. My point about the tf posters is that everyone claiming success at tf in this thread is not keeping bees on a commercial level. There is a reason the commercial folks treat for mites....and it isn't because they want to support Bayer.
Gotta go...got some of my bees in the trees already....sheeesh.
At the risk of drifting even further off topic, it should be pointed out that, though the vast majority of varroa are a result of inbreeding, as populations increase in a hive, though, that may not always be the case. Given that fact, is it too much of a stretch to wonder if higher numbers of hives might lead to a higher probability of cross breeding in mites which are then rapidly spread via robbing?
"Ve are too soon olt und too late schmart."- A nameless German philosopher
I've never said "my way or the highway." What I have said, and continue to maintain, is that "this is what I do, and so far it seems to be working. Might it work for you?" I judge the success of my bees by two criteria: surviving, and producing a surplus crop that is at least as large as the Missouri state average, but preferably larger. My bees aren't in the best pasture, but it works.
I also maintain it starts with the bee. That is why I've tried several different strains, and will continue to experiment. Now, the nice thing about people like me who have smaller operations is that we can afford (I can't, but I'm willing to) to take losses that commercial beeks cannot afford to take. I spent a year reading about bees and mites and all before restarting in beekeeping. That's why I bought the bees I bought. At first I thought B. Weaver's ad was a bit of hype, but so far, it works for me.
And that is why I've wondered if a commercial operator has tested these "treatment free bees" in a part of their operation. Because we may never really know their true value until put to the ultimate test, which is a migratory commercial operation. I hope I do not come across as being judgmental or close minded re; the commercial folks, because I do understand their pain and frustration. Each year your whole livelihood is on the line.
"If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow
Roland expressed a hypothesis here that I've read elsewhere, about the inbreeding of the mites which reduces their virulence. If I understand him correctly. Others have speculated that the bees and mites develop a balance, a symbiotic relationship. It does no value to the survival of the mite to kill off the host too quickly.
Is that balance attained (apparently) in local areas then upset by the influx of new mites via migratory beekeeping or robbing or when one buys a package of bees to replace deadouts, for example?
So then, looking at it from a national perspective, that symbiotic balance between the bee and the mite may never be attained. Seems to me the reality is that the mite is here to stay - we'll never get rid of it. So how do we get bees that can live with the mite and still thrive? Or is such a thing possible? Personallly I think it is, but time will tell.
And that's why I asked the original question. From the postings, it appears there are a few (very few) commercial beeks who are beginning to work with "treatment free bees" on an experimental basis.
Last year I picked up some B. Weaver queens from a man in St. Peters, MO, who was a drop-off point for a large shipment into the area from B. Weaver. Just think of the genetics getting into the area as swarms issue from those hives. Am I wrong in assuming that we will all benefit?
"If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow
I would think if it didn't inbreed itself to death on an island initially, it won't here.
> I don’t test for mites
> Mites aren’t a problem in my bees.
>We don’t have much to discuss because you really don’t have any idea how big of an issue varroa are in your bees.
Sure I do. I know how big of an issue they used to be. I lost all my hives several times. Once I wasn't losing them to Varroa and Varroa were hard to find, why would I keep counting Varroa?
Now I always look to see what my losses are about and they USED to be from Varroa. Why would I keep monitoring Varroa when they haven't been an issue for me for a decade? I have better things to do with my time.
I read your post and feel you have given a lot of thought to this, more so than most perhaps, but you made an interesting statement that I have a question about; " I am certainly not looking down my nose at small beekeepers. I'm one myself. My point about the tf posters is that everyone claiming success at tf in this thread is not keeping bees on a commercial level. There is a reason the commercial folks treat for mites....and it isn't because they want to support Bayer "
Now I'm not looking to pick a fight or to offend anyone, but WHY does the fact that one keeps bees as a hobby or commerically for a living have anything to do with varroa? Bees nor varroa know if they are in a commerical or hobbist bee yard. If I have 2 hives and lose 1, and you have 100 hives and lose 50, we both lost 50% of our hives. So again, why discount one's input just because he has less than fifty hives?
Like I said, just honest curiosty?
All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.
This thread started with asking of any commercial who don't treat. If you are not commercial then keep your opinion to yourself! I dont know of any commercials who dont treat in some shape or form. You wont have strong spring populations for spring pollination if you dont treat mites. Even with russians.
"I consider counting mites as a way of evaluating Varroa resistance to be fraught with all sorts of shortcomings and difficulties. It's very time consuming and hence the size of the apiary, the number of colonies tested, the gene pool, and the income available all start to shrink. It's also very easy for the results to be skewed by mites migrating from other colonies or bee yards. And it doesn't show which colonies are more resistant to secondary infections--a trait I consider very important."--Kirk Webster
If I close my eyes hard enough, and long enough, I cant see the problem, so if I cant see it, there must be no problem
I say I cant keep my hives alive with varroa levels over 3-5%
others say varroa is not an issue in their hives to the extent that they dont even monitor levels anymore, but they know they still have the mite in their hives,
what can we make of this? am I missing something or are they not recognizing something ?