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  1. #161
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    One interesting thing I'm getting from this thread, is a move away from the concept of resistant bees. While chemicals are not being used the beekeeper calls himself treatment free, but there is a heavy reliance on management methods to control varroa, rather than trusting the bees are able to deal with them.

    The study where 300 hives were not treated or managed and they all died was criticized on the basis that there had been no management, it had just been left to the bees to deal with mites.

    Am I picking up on a grudging acceptance that truly mite resistant bees do not exist yet?
    how's your spring season going so far ot?

    i split fairly aggressively in my first two seasons, but mostly to get my numbers up. now that i have my yard to the size i need i'm not splitting. none of my colonies except one were split last year, and none were split this year, although i have had a lot of swarming. i managed to prevent four strong colonies from swarming this year, so time will tell on those.

    fusion power has a much longer track record keeping healthy and productive off treatments, and i don't believe he is using aggressive splitting to accomplish this.

    i don't have proof, but i am of the opinion that there are resistant ferals all around me.

    do they exist? probably maybe yeah i think.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  2. #162
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,065

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Am I picking up on a grudging acceptance that truly mite resistant bees do not exist yet?
    I don't think so OT - or not exactly. I believe that some people actually have achieved success by luck skill or grace - where the combination of some undefined environmental factors along with local bees and management practices result in at least survival from year to year. Fewer have some reasonable degree of productivity as well.

    But for many people even that remains elusive. It's not an uncommon story that bees which have been making it treatment free for an extended time fail when moved. There seems to be a piece of the puzzle that may not be available everywhere and isn't fully understood.

    Notice that Jim Lyon is using treatment free queens even though he treats pragmatically. He must see a benefit to using those genetics in his business. I would guess bees that require less treatment and do better between treatments. So, not completely resistant bees, but More resistant.

    100% nothing but my opinion.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  3. #163
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    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,992

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    do they exist? probably maybe yeah i think.
    Love the humor!

    Thanks for the thoughtful answers David and Squarepeg, makes sense. Where I am, we are not even as far along the road as you guys, it's treat or die here. But our mites are not as far along either, for the most part they are not resistant to any of the treatments.

    Not sure if that's good or bad though, cos it makes treating a very easy option and has probably acted to discourage the search for mite resistant bees.

    And oh, my season? well, PUMPING!! Sold a lot more bees than expected, my own bees doing awesome, kind of everything is pic perfect at the moment. I do lay in bed sometimes wondering if the bubble will burst and people will stop buying bees though. But for now, sweet!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #164
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Oldtimer - tell me about how you winter nucs please. You say you have 200 of them. I'm curious how you manage them.

  5. #165
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    I winter them in 2 configurations, the 3 framers are wintered 3 to a 10 frame box with dividers. In this configuration they all share the heat and get through the winter fine. The other configuration is 4 frame stand alone nucs. Losses for both are virtually zero.

    The reason for doing this is I have new spring queens available when no one else is selling them, and there is no early drain on hives to set up nucs, they are already set up.

    It should be said our winters are very mild here.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #166
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    So back to the idea of queening a split. If I put in a new queen after making a split (as has been suggested for my small bee yard) does that create enough of a brood break? Seems like it wouldn't. Any thoughts or options come to mind?
    Last edited by whalers; 11-23-2013 at 09:58 AM.

  7. #167
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
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    1,211

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    OT, I for one am certain that genetic mite tolerance is real, but very rare in unselected bees. You could stand to import some genetics that have the trait in a selected form. It would make a dramatic difference in the way you manage mites. Said another way, as long as you treat for mites, you will continue to have problems with mites.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  8. #168
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,065

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by whalers View Post
    So back to the idea of queening a split. If I put in a new queen after making a split (as has been suggested for my small bee yard) does that create enough of a brood break? Seems like it wouldn't. Any thoughts or options come to mind?
    The brood break will only be however long it takes for the new queen to be released and start laying.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  9. #169
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    so no real break if you immediately hang a new queen in a fresh split that contains some brood?

    and about a 2 week set back in brooding if you place a ripe queen cell in a split that contains some brood?

    vs. a substantial break (at the risk of getting laying workers) if you make or allow a split to be broodless?

    whalers, it might be helpful if you decide on how many production hives you would like to keep. if that number is 10 or less, i would consider doing what you can to get your existing colonies to survive the winter, and then perhaps perform 'cut down' splits on your strongest ones next spring. overwinter the splits in a ten frame or double five frame and use them to replace any losses. you can also sell them in the spring if you are lucky enough to not have any losses.

    the cut down split method will also help with swarm prevention. you can read about it here:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #170
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    i've been giving some thought to this brood break thing, and i'm wondering if the benefit observed regarding mite control has more to do with the introduction of a fresh queen rather than the brief pause in brooding.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #171
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by whalers View Post
    OK, so I've been treatment free for a while and its becoming apparent that something needs to change. Most of my hives get through the first year, but in the second year they die out.
    Two years is the line that divides true miticide-free beekeeping, and neglectful beekeeping.

    To get a colony to survive longer than 2 years without miticides requires an "A" game, some luck, and a good location.

    Without at least two of these things, you will have a very frustrating and expensive hobby.


    Quote Originally Posted by whalers View Post
    Open to suggestions as I'm very near going back to treating my bees with a miticide.
    I have kept my bees without miticides for several years now, and have been able to increase both my hive count, and my survival rate. But what I'm realizing now is that my bees are struggling more than they are surviving.

    That is not enough for me, and I wouldn't consider it appropriate for any of my other pets.

    Come spring, I will start treating my hives - Although probably only half.

  12. #172
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    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
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    4,317

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    If you want to use a caged queen, instead of raising your own queen to get a brood break and some mite control, perhaps you could shake bees into a nuc with drawn frames (no brood). That should reduce mite levels somewhat.

  13. #173
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    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Next year will be my 5th season with no real miticides, unless you want to count "folk" remedies like creosote smoke, Natural cell size, planned breaks, and the occasional spearmint oil in the syrup. I also realize my luck might have been a lot different in another location with a different set of bees, using different methods. We are so dry here (it is one of the driest places on Earth) that many of the varmints that affect other places do not thrive here. SHB is a prime example.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  14. #174
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    Hamilton, Alabama
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Paul, what efforts have you made to bring in mite tolerant bees?
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  15. #175
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    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    I have made no effort - other than a couple of packages of Koehnen's bees back when I first started - and a few Beewever queens someone gave me - all of my bees are from my region. I do not import from out of state.

    The Koehnen's queens are no longer around.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  16. #176
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    Hamilton, Alabama
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Do you monitor your colonies for mites and breed from those with low counts? This was how I identified a highly mite tolerant queen back in 2004. It directly led to me going treatment free in 2005 because I had a known source of mite tolerant genetics.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  17. #177
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    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    I am not very diligent in it. I used to use screened bottoms and sticky paper, but now mostly just check the capped drone brood every so often. I normally breed from my colonies that have survived over 3 years with no assistance. I have observed several of these hives grooming mites from each other (yes, I have sat and watched them - like a fool). It seems to be a common trait amongst the local survivors. Some of them seem to have it, some of them don't. You would be hard pressed to find a mite in some of these hives. On the other hand, I had a hive of domestic cordovans that was LOADED with mites. So I know the mites are out there.

    There was a hive study conducted in New Mexico last year which analyzed the pests and diseases in the hives of yards containing 11 colonies or more. They concluded that the incidence of varroa mites in this state is much lower than the national average. Not sure why. Don't know if it is because they don't survive here as well, or if maybe there is something in the genetic make-up of the background survivors that tips the scale. I do know that African genetics has an element of mite suppression in it (it seems to affect the mites reproduction by making them sterile) - and it isn't just through swarming. Maybe we are seeing this leak over to the survivors here in the colder regions where those Brazilian bees do not predominate, along the edge of the migration line. There also appears to be an element of African in our NM survivors that pre-dates the Brazilians, maybe this is the difference? I am not a scientist so I can only speculate. All I really have is the results I get, and I am rather unscientific about it I hate to say.

    I do know that there are not very many beekeepers in this area historically, and the bees have been on their own for a long time. Les Crowder once told me that any feral bees you see around in NM can be assumed to have a resistance or they would simply not be there. There was a period when there were no bees or swarms here, so they have made a comeback of sorts. I am a bit concerned about new beekeepers importing bees from other regions and watering down what we currently have in some of these bees (the "sky island" bees).

    I try to maintain a limited number of hives (25 hives), so I have to be real careful who I breed from and what I keep from my removals. A lot of the removal bees don't make the cut - mostly the ones from the lower desert due to a variety of reasons. If they act-up, I see a lot of mites, or I don't like them for some reason, they either get combined with another hive or requeened. If they behave properly, they aren't "runny" or "swarmy" and survive, I will breed from them. I say that, but at this time I currently have only 2 truly feral hives out of the 25 total. The rest are either bees descended from the ones I breed in the mountains (feral origin), or from beeweavers I acquired in trade (4), or feral derived hives I got from other regional beeks. I am very curious to see how the Beeweavers do compared to my other bees. So far my opinion on them is a bit mixed. I try not to mix the different bees, and the Beeweavers are currently on their own yard near a large Alfalfa field.
    Last edited by Paul McCarty; 11-27-2013 at 10:36 AM.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  18. #178
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,256

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    I I am very curious to see how the Beeweavers do compared to my other bees. So far my opinion on them is a bit mixed. I try not to mix the different bees, and the Beeweavers are currently on their own yard near a large Alfalfa field.
    Paul, could you elaborate on your mixed reaction to the BeeWeavers?
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  19. #179
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    Jan 2005
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    Hamilton, Alabama
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    I'm re-posting this. Anyone who is treatment free MUST be aware of the mechanisms bees use to remove varroa mites.

    The known mechanisms for varroa tolerance include:

    Varroa Selective Hygiene - disrupts the reproductive cycle of the varroa mite
    a. Detect infested larvae
    b. Uncap infested larvae
    c. Remove infested larvae
    d. selection involves testing for hygienic behavior and removal of infested larvae

    Allogrooming - bees grooming each other to remove mites
    a. Varroa mauling - chewing and biting the mites which kills them
    b. Selection involves monitoring for chewed mites on the bottom board

    Breaks in brood rearing - during brood breaks, varroa cannot reproduce.
    a. Heavy pollen collection - bees that collect pollen heavily are more sensitive to lack of pollen and shut down brood rearing earlier.
    b. Sensitive to nectar dearth - bees that react to nectar shortage by breaking the brood cycle.
    c. Selection involves monitoring for bees that reduce brood rearing when pollen is unavailable.

    Reduced days to worker maturity - fewer days gives mites less time to reproduce
    a. some worker bees mature in 19 days vs standard 21
    b. using small cell foundation and timing brood emergence
    c. Selection involves identifying the small percentage of colonies that mature workers in fewer days.

    The bees that survive best and produce decent honey crops seem to combine various levels of VSH plus Allogrooming. Reduced days to maturity also plays into the mix just a bit, especially for small cell users.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  20. #180
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    good post dar, thanks.

    what's your opinion/experience with feeding syrup and pollen sub vs. honey natural pollen only?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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