Mine are 'store bought' resistant bees. I'm a credit card TF beekeeper.
I probably missed it, but what kind of stock did you start out with?
Also, I wonder if those Black Bees from the Scottish islands are available to U.K. beekeepers?
They don't have varroa on those "Scottish Islands"
Mike knows who to talk to to get those bees but I doubt he will.
At last word, Scotland was still part of the UK!
USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft
It was Scotland that recently established a Black Bee reserve on one of its islands.
The bees wear 'kilts' instead of bands.
http://www.exmoorbeesandbeehives.co.uk/ Buckfast UK.
Britain's first honeybee reserve is to be set up on the Hebridean islands of Colonsay and Oronsay.
Just so you know WLC, Beekuk runs it.
I'm quite keen to see what I can achieve with my locals alone though. I think they might have the makings.
What I had thought you got your first bees 3 years ago which was a swarm that arrived in a tree and you "watched it",
Following year started collecting swarms & cutouts, lost most through winter and started next season with 6. By collecting more swarms and cut outs built this to 40 hives, currnet number 29 to 31, winter not over.
Beekuk could help you get some of those Scottish black ones, you would have to be nice to him.
Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-12-2014 at 08:02 AM.
Trouble with the Colonsay bees is they have never been exposed to varroa so developing varroa tolerant stock from that source is likely to be starting from a low base.
I know Andrew the sole beekeeper on Colonsay, and I know his bees are great bees, but I doubt they are likely to be the best starting point for varroa tolerant stock when introduced to an area which has mites.
Some work has already started in Ireland looking for varroa tolerance in AMM stock. This is based on accurately sampling mite levels and will involve looking for genetic markers associated with the more varroa tolerant stock at some point. Collecting swarms and cut outs, leaving them untreated, and watching them collapse over time is unlikely to bear fruit with regard to finding resistant stock. If you start with about 1000 and are prepared for 95% losses you might make some progress over time. If you read forums such as biobees, it is in the main just a long list of well meaning beekeepers with 2 or 3 colonies who don't treat yet somehow expect their bees to survive. They are not starting with any special resistant stock. The majority lose their bees to mites by the end of year 2 yet seem to be in denial about this and often blame the loss on pesticides or some other non mite related cause.
Your opening sentence here make the assumption that they will collapse. That isn't the experience of many beekeepers, or scientific studies. There are, in Europe and the US, feral 'survivors' who are now not just 'survivors' but 'thrivers'. This is not merely anecdotal, but scientifically evidenced.
Over at the Warre beeeeping group its a similar story, though they have their own pet theories, concerning magic hive dimensions or the special waft that escapes when you open hives or somesuch.
The general level of awareness of the facts of population husbandry in beekeeping is utterly abysmal. That is a real part of the problem. Its not just on the wacky sites - the orthodox sites are as bad. There are now hundreds of books aimed at new beekeepers, and (I'm guessing) probably a handful talk firmly about the absolute need to breed toward health. Here on Beesource, and elsewhere, the denial of even the possibility of small scale breeding toward resistance has been raised to an artform.
Bees that aren't adapted to varroa will perish without treatment/manipulation. Adaptation is an intergenerational process requiring the elimination of the worst adapted. Period Period Period.
Follow the rules of husbandry (properly) and there is a very good chance of success in most places. Likely local 'survivor' starting stock is a far better bet than any other bee available in the UK. But that's just the start. Then you have to get to work - and for that you want a reasonable number of hives, and the further you are from large scale treaters the better. Those are sole the relevant factors governing success or failure (assuming a reasonable level of competence).
Whether we succeed at true tf or not only time will tell - though some already have that time under their belts.
But for sure: if you don't adopt proper selective husbandry methods you won't - unless you are blessed with adapted ferals. It isn't possible. The Laws of the Universe prohibit it.
Last edited by mike bispham; 01-13-2014 at 03:12 AM.
Michael Palmer, after you understand the laws of husbandry you will not be surprised. So go back over these posts and you will finally understand.
4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.
Not guesswork at all. Losses of that magnitude were reported initially by people like Kefuss and Weaver.Guesswork of a highly exaggerated nature.
The problem is that a lot of small scale beekeepers who start out with the intention going treatment free imagine that from 20 colonies, 10 will survive and these will be used as the basis for propagating more colonies.
In actual fact you are likely to be left with a lot less than 10, maybe none at all in a worst case scenario.
Kefuss now advocates 'soft bond' method as opposed to cold turkey and he has also started to use DNA analysis to further identify the genetic basis of resistance traits. That information can be used in the selection of breeding material.
Mites are counted and monitored and this information is also used in the selection process.
I would back a science based approach like this as the way forward.
Exactly 'initially'. When varroa first hit there was almost no resistance at all. That isn't always the case anymore, and in the case of many feral populations very sound levels of resistance are present. Documented.
The problem is those beekeepers don't understand the need to do this - nor how to carefully assay for resistance. The best way to do that is: don't treat. They don't understand the _need_ to breed.
( I have a larger, 116 page version of this)
I think a large part of the dna analyis is geared to identifying the distinct patrilines that carry the genes, allowing a far more precise selection process
Last edited by Barry; 01-14-2014 at 06:34 AM.
USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft