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Thread: Off the wagon

  1. #1
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    Default Off the wagon

    Well after around 2 years of trying I've finally given up small cell combined with bond method, today.

    First year or 18 months it went pretty well, then things started sliding. Increasing mite numbers, hives dying. As per the plan I let them die, expecting a few to survive to breed from.

    However ALL 9 of the hives have been overwhelmed by mites. The 21 nucs, even just a few weeks ago were looking pretty good. But checked today, every last one of them is either dead or so close it doesn't matter. Amazing how fast they went down.

    I've actually done everything right, religiously, even. I think there's 2 main reasons for the complete failure. One is our winters here are mild and the bees have brood 365 days per year. There is no brood break, mites paradise. Second, we have only had varroa here 1/2 as long as you guys in the US, and there has not been the time for our bees to build enough immunity. I've used as many different strains as I could get, but end of day, they just cannot handle mites yet without help.

    I'm still very interested in ways to be treatment free and it's still a goal for me. So I'll still be hanging out in the forum.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    I hate to hear that. You're not a starry eyed newby that doesn't know what you are doing either.

    Sorry for the double negative.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Thanks David.

    I should have said, I've still got bees, the treated ones, so at least I'm still in the game. There is now a breeding program in my country originally government funded, aiming at mite resistant bees, so with that, and other things, maybe we'll get there eventually. We are behind the US though.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    sorry to hear about your tf bees ot, thanks for keeping us updated.

    looks like another example in beekeeping when what works for one may not work for another.

    i agree that not having mites there as long is very likely a factor.

    hopefully the breeders will may quick progress.

    if someone were motivated to do so they might scout out feral colonies and observe them. it would be painstaking, but if one could find a feral colony surviving year after year then nature's breeding program might provide some resistant genetics.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Yes well that's another evidence our bees are not as resistant as yours. Best anyone can tell, there are no "feral survivors" here.

    The breeding program did as you suggested, hunt out feral hives for possible breeding. They advertised locally for people to report any wild hives they new of, and were told of about 8o. Because the hives might have been new swarms they decided to monitor them for a season before breeding from them. This was done by mounting a camera at the entrance and checking for continued activity through the season, they did it to 30 of the hives. Of the 30, not one survived as the same hive for more than a year, so none were bred from.

    Beekeepers generally have noticed there are not the feral hives there were pre varroa, and it is estimated that pre varroa there were around 4 million wild hives in the country, and 350,000 managed hives. Now there are no confirmed long term wild hives, but kept hives have increased to around 450,000, they are all treated. Except for me and a couple of other small scale experiments there is nobody keeping treatment free bees here, and nobody has succeeded long term. There are also some nubees going treatment free because they read some overseas literature and decided to do that, but they never last more than a season.

    Can but hope though, even my treated bees get monitored to see which ones are affected by mites the least, and other beekeepers do the same, so eventually things should improve.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 06-25-2013 at 06:47 AM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    The same thing happened here, feral hives died out as well. Over time, they have returned. So sorry to hear that you are having the same type of thing happening there, and very sorry your treatment free program did not work for you.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Oldtimer:

    Do you have access to VSH stock in NZ?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Off the wagon

    As I've said before OT....I, for one, appreciate your objective reporting.
    And while I do believe that we now have more tolerant stocks in the US....even today....I haven't seen any convincing reports of truly resistant bees.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    My experience over the past 20 years is that it's become easier to keep varroa numbers down but my sense is that those gains are being offset by an increase in viruses.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    Do you have access to VSH stock in NZ?
    Yes, that's what the breeding program is aiming at. They have some pretty high VSH bees, but have not been able to fix the trait, ie, the offspring are pretty variable. But the bees are now being sold on the market, so the more the genes are spread around, or at least increased in local populations, the better, I guess.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Did you check out this site http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

    Its very well written and his research on using powder sugar to slow down the mites was interesting. What got my attention is that he said that due to the life cycle of varroa he treated once a week for 12 weeks.

    It could be worth a try.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Quote Originally Posted by ElderBombadil View Post
    Did you check out this site http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

    Its very well written and his research on using powder sugar to slow down the mites was interesting. What got my attention is that he said that due to the life cycle of varroa he treated once a week for 12 weeks.

    It could be worth a try.
    This is a treatment and you are posting on the treatment-free forum. See the sticky at the top of the forum for a list of treatments that are not acceptable on this forum, altho we can discuss them to our heart's content on the other forums. (PSD happens to be a favorite of mine It's just not appropriate here).


    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    However ALL 9 of the hives have been overwhelmed by mites. The 21 nucs, even just a few weeks ago were looking pretty good. But checked today, every last one of them is either dead or so close it doesn't matter. Amazing how fast they went down.
    The 9 hives that are overwhelmed by mites, are they dead or just have very high mite counts?

    Will you let the remaining nuc's that are in tough shape continue on?

    Will you stick with small cell?

    I am sorry that it hasn't worked out for you.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Well after around 2 years of trying I've finally given up small cell combined with bond method, today.

    First year or 18 months it went pretty well, then things started sliding. Increasing mite numbers, hives dying. As per the plan I let them die, expecting a few to survive to breed from.
    At the risk of offending the purists; At 18 months you had bees with cosiderable potential. Perhaps had they interbred those favorable traits would have increased with time. Even in your treated hivesI expect there are some that show a little more independence than others. Bees will have to survive without treatment, they just need to be ready to do so.
    I hope you continue the work even if you must go to the dark side for a bit.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    OT can correct me if I am wrong but it seems the premise of what he was doing was testing treatment free/small cell independently in a separate location from his treated hives with the goal (as he said) to hopefully have some survivors to breed from. I remember him posting on this when he originally started his experiment and possibly several updates since. Probably would have been better to have started a separate thread.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    If there was a kinda treatment free forum that would be the place to post. I do not presume to tell Oldtimer anything he does not know, my apologies if there was any hint of that. Bond method is the ultimate test. Bond without backup may be a delay in progress. Hard to comment without getting shot with the wrong forum bullet.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Thanks for all the replies. Yes I read Randy but for these hives they just went straight small cell and Bond method. I'm using other softer methods on the other hives but the small cell bond ones were run completely separately and different locations. However in these parts there are so many beekeepers and hives it is impossible to get out of mating range with others.
    Of the 9 hives that were overwhelmed, 5 died, the other 4 got down to a queen and anything from maybe 6 workers, up to a small fistful. Weatherr conditions at the time meant they would not have survived, so I gave them extra bees and treated them to save them, but they were no longer in the program. The nucs yesterday, similar. Most were dead but a few had a queen running around loose plus a few workers. They are past surviving so today I'll make some packages & give anything with a queen some bees, plus a treatment. Only way to save them, but they are no longer bond method.
    But all my hives (treated I mean) get the minimum need for good productivity and I know the best ones and breed from those. So I'm still breeding for resistance, just slower than the harsh bond method, the bees are not ready for that.

    Yes, we need a kinda treatment free forum LOL
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    I think that starting with VSH bees, and then resorting to splitting if needed, would be a better approach if no other resistant bees are available.

    My criticism of the bond method is simply this: there's too much risk of pathogen spillover into other native/managed pollinators.

    In the Stationary Hive Project, over 200 hives, not from resistant stock, were left untreated for the study.

    Non of them made it to the third season.

    Those are some terrible odds.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    I think that starting with VSH bees, and then resorting to splitting if needed, would be a better approach if no other resistant bees are available.
    To my recollection, OT's 'study' was to determine whether or not small cell would carry the day. I don't remember him testing for VSH, Russian or any of the other genetic selections.....just small cell.
    Is that about right OT?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Off the wagon

    Do they have Africanized bees in NZ?

    To my recollection, one scientific study demonstrated that small cell was effective in reducing Varroa in AHB, but another study did not find the benefit in regular bees.

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