Well the real test is how do your queens strand up outside your area? Mite tolerant gueens are worth a fortune
Well the real test is how do your queens strand up outside your area? Mite tolerant gueens are worth a fortune
Joseph, what would you say to the assertion that your bees are in effect surrounded by the perfect storm of Africanized bees? Meaning, your TF operation is the hole in the doughnut with AHB surrounding and protecting your operation, somehow suppressing an overpowering re-infestation by the mites. Just a thought, but I still think it is your dry and hot climate that trumps all other factors.
I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)
Varroa are recognized by any reputable authority as the most serious problem facing beekeeping today….but not Joseph Clemens. You, on the other hand, insist that they are simply hype. All the while denying any influence of AHB….although readily acknowledging their presence in your area.
My biggest distress when I read a post like the one that started this thread is my concern for those potential and new beekeepers. You pitch the idea that mite problems are a figment of many beekeepers’ imaginations. It is a message that many of those newcomers yearn to hear. And then we read their posts about losses. Suggesting any and every possible explanation except the most likely….varroa mites.
I believe you can do more damage in a single post like that than you realize. And…as I’m sure you can tell….that is more than a slight annoyance to me.
Don't you think that the millions of dead colonies and the near total eradication of feral populations in the 80s across much of the north american continent is evidence enough of the potency of varroa?
I'm wondering if some of us have mites that are spreading more lethal viruses among our bees. I'm having problems that I didn't use to have with similar mite loads. Your mites might not carry the more lethal viruses.
Slightly off topic, but I still think this is the place top ask it.
From reading over several years many people talking about their varroa issues / non varroa issues, seems to me it is at least partly location dependent. With beekeepers in semi desert areas having less problems, and beekeepers in areas with low honey production having less problems.
But I'm not that familiar with the US landscape to know that for sure, is there any truth in my assumption? Or if not, how does locality and climate affect things?
From a personal perspective my interest in this is to help piece together why we have the issues in my country.
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).
Well if joe is not full of it, it must matter. We have a huge variety of microcliamtes here. AZ/nm, and SoCal being very dry. A few parts of New Mexico see snow, but still manage to have almost no winter. Other parts like the midwest run a lot of snow and Ice for 3 months. and them real northern guys who very well may spend 4 months with 2 feet on the ground... and then the southwest which winter is the rainy season, not much blooming but darn few nights below 50 deg
Last edited by beemandan; 12-22-2013 at 03:15 PM.
Joe, I agree with you about pesticides. You are not exposed to them as much, so the bees aren't weakened enough to
succumb to varroa. Healthy bees can exist and/or beat varroa. Pesticides are the nuclear bomb and will always be the
worst problem for bees and us, look at our allergies and our rate of childhood autism.
I'm TF and lost one hive out of 32 to varroa in my first 3yrs. in Wy. Moved to NE and had problems instantly with more pesticide
spray. Been trying to relocate my hives away from spray areas and close to rivers, creeks, and towns where there seems to be
less spray and more forage. Varroa still is not a problem for me and I don't treat.
Off topic, but could you tell me who you bought those Cordovan Italians from? Thanks Joe
It is easy to blame it on pesticides. If pesticides were the issue then why did 99% of all feral hives, even the ones in wilderness areas died when varroa first appeared? Their destruction was/continues to be nearly uniform whether near agriculture or not.
As far as a large honey crop being a marker of sorts for fall varroa collapse my opinion is that it used to be true more in the early years of varroa than it is now. Interesting theory, not saying there isn't anything to it but it dosent really square with my personal experiences. I remember lots of cases years ago where we pulled off large crops late and found small collapsing hives remaining. In recent years, with bees that now seem to exhibit more mite tolerance, our strongest hives are generally those which have had the best late summer honey flows and the poorest are those that have experienced a late summer dearth.
Perhaps, some, especially newbees will somehow get the idea that problems bees have, especially with Varroa, are, less virulent, than they actually are.
Not discussing these observances, that some of us are having, seems more harmful, than any potential harm that may be created, if any newbee gets a spurious, possibly erroneous idea about Varroa.
Thanks to all that have been sharing ideas with me in this thread, and other threads. Some of the ideas shared, I've already been thinking of, but some are new, even to me. I greatly appreciate new ideas on this subject.
Since Varroa is such a horrible scourge, I am not sure I can understand why the focus of more research is not done to help those of us with the fewest Varroa issues, to simply identify the factor or factors responsible for our successes.
I often hear that AHB can handle Varroa, better than EHB, but have yet to read any convincing research that would strongly support that hypothesis. Though, if that hypothesis is true, I don't deny that in some way, AHB may be helping my bees manage their own interactions with Varroa. AHB are quite likely very common in my area, though there was never a die-out of feral colonies, as had been reported in other areas. When I had first relocated here, I could have easily cut-out dozens of feral colonies, all thriving beneath the superstructures of mobile homes in our neighborhood. Those feral colonies are still there, despite many that became overly defensive, being removed or destroyed. More overly defensive feral colonies are destroyed, than those that go about their business peacefully. Exterminator's, thus doing a service for us beekeepers, as well as the public.
For instance there was a colony, in the wall of a doctors office, and their entrance/access was behind a wooden stair, that went to roof access for maintenance. So, not a thoroughfare. Beneath the stair was a trellis, supporting some vines over the public walkway. The property manager approached me about removing the bees. The bees were entirely non-defensive, despite being there several years, with the bees flight path at 90 degrees to the sidewalk below. They had never stung anyone. Instead I suggested they fasten a piece of shade fabric to the underside of the trellis. This forced the bees to fly above the trellis. The shade cloth also made it more difficult to view the bees, though they could still be seen, and on warm Summer days a gentle hum could be heard as one passed the colonies entrance. Perhaps someday, if they become more defensive, they may need to be removed, but for now, human and honey bee can coexist in peace.
I only have half-baked hypothesese as to why my bees demonstrate such a high tolerance to Varroa. Wouldn't everyone want to know what actually produces such tolerance? I certainly would, though I'm happy to experience it, for myself. I would like to be able to share it, if that were possible. I can't reliably do so, until I have a more accurate understanding of how it is working for my bees.
Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 12-22-2013 at 10:40 PM.
An additional thought:
If Varroa are so absolutely terminal - and I concede that they are. How can they still be with us? Wouldn't those that are the worst, be self-limiting, extirpating themselves, as they extirpate their hosts?
As they extinguished vast numbers and high percentages of feral colonies, wouldn't that also limit them?
Also, other pests, diseases, and hazards affecting the survival of honey bee colonies, would also be disastrous for Varroa populations. After all, there are a finite number of honey bee colonies, how can Varroa continue to thrive and expand, with fewer and fewer surviving hosts?
Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 12-23-2013 at 12:24 AM.
Interesting to read all the comments, thanks Joseph for making us aware that there may well be hope when Varroa arrives here.
I understand that some Government Department is importing queens to test for Varroa resistance( or for Hygienic behaviour) and I will pass the contacts of the two breeders on to them - thanks!
from the Bee House -http://ecologicalsolutions.com.au/bees/?page_id=8
40 years - +/- 20 H - TF - Subtropical
They all dye from varroa, or lack of nectar, or lack of pollen, or just like any other bee; from lack of care, his bees do not behave any different from any other bee. Over the years, I have tried to bring different genetics from different suppliers just to try to keep the gene pool balanced.
A long time ago, Mr. Randy Oliver gave a presentation in Santa Fe; I was able and fortunate to attend. He said to the audience, that varroa was a big problem everywhere, but on the southwest. He said back then, bees in this area (New Mexico, east Arizona), appear to deal with the varroa problem better than any other place he had ever been.
I am fully surrounded by africanized feral bees, I deal with them when I have to do cut outs and swarms –maybe one out of ten is Africanized. Sometimes our bees replace queens and the new queens -sometimes- mate with africanized drones and then we end up with over protective, over reactive, over aggressive and over achiever hives!
A small percentage of all locally mated queen bees get to the point of aggressiveness, that need to be bathed with soap.
If and when I get this aggressive hives, I make as many nucs as possible to find the queen and take the aggressiveness out -if they are kept on small nucs they are nice girls. This year, I picked up a large swarm early on the spring; they were africanized. By early june, I had 3 deeps full of brood and resources, and made 10 nucs, my wife loved how prolific this queen was, so we kept the Taliban queen. She did it again, so, by late august, we harvest another 3 nucs, and she was sent to Taliban heaven, and now, a calm Italian girl is at the throne.
I would keep all africanized hives if I could, but they are a liability to self and others. I have gotten stung up to 70 times with a single hive in one event; even while wearing full good quality gear. The ventilated suits help a lot and I wear one if I am dealing with swarms and cut outs -no compromise there.
I have lost lots of bees to varroa when and if I do not treat –I only use essential oils now. But, I have noticed that you can lose a complete full colony easier than a fresh nuc if you do not treat either; leading me to believe that the break on the varroa cycle is a better weapon than any treatment and may be the key to keep healthy colonies.
I just do not know if my observations have any value, but this is my experience.
If every beekeeper in the world stopped treating and managing for varroa and allowed their apiaries to collapse, then a few remaining survivors MIGHT produce mite tolerant bees….over time. And the experiment would eliminate beekeeping throughout the world for many decades. Of course they might not be successful either…there’s no guarantee. Or the only survivors might have qualities that are unacceptable for beekeeping (AHB, A ceranae)
Even at the end…even if they killed every honey bee colony in the world, varroa would continue to exist with their natural host.
Well written take. on this situation in your back yard. Brood breaks and nucs might be a way to slow them down.
Does anyone know anyone else who uses the "no treatment" queens from Texas raised at the big W bee Farm in an operation besides themselves who are 100% varroa treatment free and run over 300 colonies?
I have had no Varroa issues (nore issues with any other diseases) for more than a decade now and have not treated for anything for most of the last 40 years. Why does that make people angry? You want me to have problems? You don't want to NOT have problems? I'm always surprised how angry people get about it. I'm pretty sure Joseph is running foundationless...