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Thread: Mite count.

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Colleen, if you make it through winter with all 4 alive, split brood from the strongest colony and add it to the others. This will do two things that you will need. It will suppress swarming in larger colonies, and it will turn small colonies into productive honey makers. One warning, when you move brood, you will also move mites.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    RiodeLobo, that is great! Do you plan to do a spring count?
    Yes, around the 1-2nd week of April I will do another count. Assuming that they all make it until then with that data, the fall count, how the colonies did this winter and their performance last year I am planning on splitting most of the colonies (the bottom 6), and leave the 2 best together. The plan is to raise queens from the top 3 colonies for the splits, including the top producers from my "TX free" queens I bought last year. I will replace the queens of the of the lowest performing 2 colonies. I plan on using Oldtimer's graftless system to raise the queens starting the last week of April or sooner, weather, bloom and drone dependent. I have to raise them earlier than I would like due to the commercial guys usually show up in June and I don't want their drones in the mix. This should improve the overall performance and decrease the duds, while maintaining the genetic diversity that I currently have from 3 different queen producers.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    RiodeLobo,

    Temperatures are finally starting to get above the mid-forties during the day and my remaining two colonies are rebuilding. I got a chance to peak in at them a couple weeks ago and both had started a limited amount of brood rearing. One could use some pollen so I put a bit of supplement in but at this point I am starting to think they have made it through the winter.

    The two left standing? The Buckfast with the highest mite count and the one Minnesota Hygienic X Missouri Mutt colony that had the lowest mite count. Once their populations have built up enough I plan to do spring tests too. It will probably be around the first week of April for me as well.

    In general I think the other colonies had clusters that were a bit small for as cold a winter as we had but the Buckfast colony that had the best mite count died of dysentery. There was fermenting honey in their combs (frothing) and streaks on the hive walls. The size of the hygienic colony wasn't much larger than the colonies I lost but they didn't have as much bee die-off which I think was related to a lower mite infestation. The Buckfast colony that made it had maybe half again or more as many bees as the others (I combined a weak split back into it in time for the fall flow) and despite a really high mite count didn't suffer huge losses and shows no signs of mite vectored viruses (yet). I'm keeping an eye on them for signs of viruses and will be really interested in the spring mite count on this colony.

    If I had it to do over, I would pinch the queen from the weak colony and combine it with the intermediate count colony that I really liked. They would have had a better chance of making it then. I now have a much better idea of how strong a colony needs to be to make it through one of our colder winters.

    Just as a side note, the Buckfast colonies were all really frugal with their stores but the Minnesota Hygienic X Missouri Mutt colony was just about out when I checked them. They went through 8 bars of honey. The Buckfast colony that is left went through less than 6.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  4. #24
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    Default Baker Valley Update

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    I. TBH, started spring 2012. 4 mites Production package queen. No excess production, barley survived winter 2012.
    II. Lang, started spring 2013. 0 mites Production Package queen. No excess production.
    III. Lang, re-queened summer 2013. 4 mites Olympic Wilderness Apiaries queen. No excess production
    IV. Lang, re-queened summer 2013. 7 mites Olympic Wilderness Apiaries queen. No excess production
    V. Lang, re-queened summer 2013. 6 mites Olympic Wilderness Apiaries queen. No excess production
    VI. Lang, started summer 2013. 7 mites Raised queen, Old Sol genetics. No excess production
    VII. Lang, started spring 2013. 6 mites Production Package queen. 30lb honey production.
    VIII. Lang, started late spring 2013. 5 mites Old Sol queen. No excess production
    IX. Lang, started late spring 2013. 7 mites Old Sol queen. No excess production
    Spring update.

    I. Queen-less, 5lb honey remaining. Main cluster starved. Will add frame tomorrow.
    II. Queen right, open nectar, brood over 2 frames.
    III. Queen right, open nectar, brood over 2.5 frames.
    IV. Queen right, open nectar, brood over 2 frames.
    V. Queen-less, 15 lb honey, gave open brood from colony III.
    VI. Queen right, open nectar, brood over 2 frames.
    VII. Queen right, open nectar/5lb honey, brood over 3 frames.
    VIII. Queen right, open nectar/5lb honey, brood over 2 frames.
    IX. Queen right, open nectar, brood over 2.5 frames.

    I think they are working willows. 2nd week of April dandelions should bloom. Should start queen rearing the end of April and split the 2nd week of May.
    Last edited by RiodeLobo; 03-22-2014 at 05:15 PM.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Baker Valley Update

    not bad rio. have you got drones there yet? not seeing many here, but it shouldn't be long.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Baker Valley Update

    Yes I saw a couple when I was going through the hives, and there is a little drone brood. Even if the queens don't mate well at least the extra brood will bump up the population and I can requeen later in the spring.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Baker Valley Update

    yeah, and prevent laying workers too. good job.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Colleen, if you make it through winter with all 4 alive, split brood from the strongest colony and add it to the others. This will do two things that you will need. It will suppress swarming in larger colonies, and it will turn small colonies into productive honey makers. One warning, when you move brood, you will also move mites.
    I'm worried there may be costs to this plan.

    First, you tend to lose the ability to select on productivity. Not entirely perhaps, but the more you mess around like this the more you make it harder to get true readings of capability.

    Second, you may be introducing mite resistant bees into the second hive that will give 'false readings' again.

    Third, colonies treated this way may, all else being equal, produce fewer drones than those allowed to get large. I don't know whether to preserve my best queens by keeping them in nucs or let them go for it.
    Perhaps the answer is to keep them small and add drone comb to bring up drone numbers.

    Mike (UK)
    Last edited by mike bispham; 03-25-2014 at 12:16 PM.
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    ...I am planning on splitting most of the colonies (the bottom 6), and leave the 2 best together.
    The problem with lots of splitting is, again, you tend to make it harder to locate the most resistant. I'm going for a more organised grafting system with dedicated brood and bee-raising colonies so that I can leave those under assay alone, in the interest of getting true readings of mite management, general health and productivity abilities.

    Mike (UK)
    Last edited by mike bispham; 03-25-2014 at 12:17 PM.
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    The problem with lots of splitting is, again, you tend to make it harder to locate the most resistant. I'm going for a more organised grafting system with dedicated brood and bee-raising colonies so that I can leave those under assay alone, in the interest of getting true readings of mite management, general health and productivity abilities.

    Mike (UK)
    Good point, however I need to expand and splitting is the most economical way to do that. I intend to retain most of the queens that I had survive the winter. The two early queens will be replaced and home grown mated queens will be placed in the queenless side of the splits.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Hello Dan, interesting thread. As second year queens they should really start to show how well or not they are dealing with mites. Those clusters sound small. I would be curious to know if they would take pollen supplement or sub.

    Are the queens marked?

    We have already started splitting our overwintered production hives... however they did get a toasty little vacation in the almonds. Breeders left in Oregon seem extra good this year to. Hygienic behavior tests and mite counts shortly.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Some are marked. Our first good flow is still weeks away, and it is still cool weather up here. I am not to worried about the cluster sizes, I want bees that will adapt to the local environment, so a later start is better around here.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Were the queens from us marked? It is very useful to know if they swarmed or superseded.

    Adapted to local environment is a good thing and our goal also, but in drought or flood years the bees and beekeeper can benefit greatly from a little management. Jackson county just got declared drought conditions. Last year was dry to. On a side note we have had bees winter very well in Christmas Valley... probably some of the toughest conditions around.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  14. #34

    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    Good point, however I need to expand and splitting is the most economical way to do that. I intend to retain most of the queens that I had survive the winter. The two early queens will be replaced and home grown mated queens will be placed in the queenless side of the splits.
    Yes, there is no point saying donŽt do splits, if bees are needed. Doing your own splits makes more sence than buing bees (as they allways have not resistant bees and therefore cause a lot of troubles in a treatment free apiary)

    I was forced to do AS MANY SPLITS AS I COULD for many years to maintain even somehow reasonable number of hives. Summer 2013 was the turning point, from now on IŽll do max one nuc from one hive. This way IŽll try to make my breeder evaluation more precise.
    Last edited by Juhani Lunden; 03-26-2014 at 07:15 AM. Reason: spelling mistake
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by JBJ View Post
    Were the queens from us marked? It is very useful to know if they swarmed or superseded.
    Yes your qweens are marked and two of the three I got last year are my best colonies. One never expanded past 1 deep so I combined it with the other two in the fall.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    I did detergent washes today but I shook and reshook until I was pretty sure I got all the mites. I've never done it before so I may have missed a time shaking requirement. I had one that was really low (around 1%), another low (1.7%), one intermediate (3.5%) and two high (9.8% and 11%). The lowest one is a Minnesota Hygienic X Missouri Mutt queen (early summer split after the original queen left with a swarm) and the rest are requeened (all but the highest were splits) this August using Ferguson Buckfasts. The Buckfast with the lowest count has the runniest queen and workers but they are gentle. The intermediate count colony is my favorite, they are really gentle and not runny in the least. I also observed them chewing out mite affected larvae once during an inspection.

    All five are nucs and my hope is that I will come out of winter with two or three colonies.
    I did Spring mite counts yesterday on my two overwintered colonies. The (1.) Buckfast colony with the highest count (11%) in fall and the (2.) Minnesota Hygienic X Missouri Mutt (~1%) in the fall are the two that made it. The spring counts were a bit disappointing but they were already brooding when I peaked in mid February so I guess the mites have been brooding too.

    The spring inspection and detergent wash mite counts:
    (1.) 9.9%, 49 mites off 493 bees. 6 1/2 bars mostly filled with brood (honey and pollen on them too). Observed mites on bees and DWV bees during the indpection and took the sample from that bar. Buckfast queen, very frugal use of honey over winter. Very gentle bees.
    (2.) 3.1%, 8 mites off 254 bees. 5 bars brood, sixth cleaned out and ready. Lots of pollen and some nectar coming in. Went through almost all their honey by mid February, gave them three more bars at that time. Bees are a bit defensive but not aggressive or nasty.

    I'm left in a TF quandary. The Buckfast has some qualities I would like to keep and mix with some more mite resistant stock but I can see a crash coming soon if I do nothing. They are recently out of the grandaddy of brood breaks but are only down a little over a percent. The MNH Mutt is already up 2% coming out of the winter brood break.

    On the bright side, someone local has a Warre that has been neglected (just bees left to their own devices) but has made it through the last three years continuously occupied and they are willing to let me either swarm trap or take it.
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 03-31-2014 at 06:54 PM.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Colleen, how did your bees do over the winter? I have one Buckfast hive and 2 Buckfast queens coming from Ferguson Apiaries. My first year overwintering.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    I'm left in a TF quandary. The Buckfast has some qualities I would like to keep and mix with some more mite resistant stock but I can see a crash coming soon if I do nothing. They are recently out of the grandaddy of brood breaks but are only down a little over a percent.
    What about splitting that colony and raising a queen off your better colony (or bringing in another queen)? That way you have an insurance policy and still get to keep the genetics of the Buckfast queen.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    Colleen, how did your bees do over the winter? I have one Buckfast hive and 2 Buckfast queens coming from Ferguson Apiaries. My first year overwintering.
    My Buckfast were from Ferguson as well. I got 5 but by time they arrived it was a bit late in the season so the clusters were a bit small. I had a push-in cage failure on one and recombined those bees into the colony that successfully overwintered. That being the colony that had the highest mite count but made it through the cold tells me something about minimum cluster size for a cold winter here. Unfortunately the Buckfast colony that had the lowest mite count was lost to dysentery. The second lowest lost all but a handful of attendants and a stupid move on my part cost her life. The last was the weakest (smallest cluster) with the second highest mite count and I lost it first. In hindsight after the mite counts I should have pinched the two high mite count queens, combined my favorite with the larger colony and combined the other two. They may all have made it then. As far as going through honey stores the Buckfast colonies went through only a tiny portion of their stores. Maybe a third or less than what the MNH Mutts used. The remaining Buckfast colony and the one that I liked working best had very gentle bees. In all I really liked them and will try them again in the future. Two of the four that I did mite counts on had some encouraging mite counts so I hope to try again in the future when I can be better established and have bigger winter clusters.
    What was your experience? Did you test for mites?

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Mite count.

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    What about splitting that colony and raising a queen off your better colony (or bringing in another queen)? That way you have an insurance policy and still get to keep the genetics of the Buckfast queen.
    My plan was to take a split from both with both queens put into nucs. Then if they make enough queen cells take another split off with an extra cell or two so that I end up with 4 nucs and 2 hives. Then I can see which queens perform the best and keep those. I was hoping that if I kept the Buckfast queen in a nuc I could reinforce her colony with brood from the more mite resistant colony if needed. Does that sound reasonable? The stores frugality was something Brother Adam bred for and to see such marked evidence of it was impressive. I would really like to see that incorporated here. If I hadn't checked the MNH Mutts would have run out despite being otherwise healthy. If I get to take over the neglected Warre colony hopefully they can add to the mix. Right now they are a complete unknown other than at least 3 years with no intervention other than a little honey robbing.
    Last edited by Colleen O.; 03-31-2014 at 09:07 PM. Reason: Typo

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