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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Amador County, California, USA
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    Default Can splits control mites?

    I plan on making 2 splits per hive in late March - early April (original colony should have about 6 frames of brood and 20 frames of bees, divide that by 3). So they will be 4-6 frames strong (assuming bees return to their old colony). They will have capped & uncapped brood and I will give them a laying queen (which should begin to lay within days, after she is released).

    Depending on how much they grow I plan on making the same type of splits in late June - early July.

    Would this be at all effective to control varroa mites for a while? I sort of did this last year and didn't feel the mites until October-November-December, in the spring and summer they were very active and healthy-looking.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
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    110

    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Randy Oliver delved into this on scientificbeekeeping.com under Varroa Population dynamics. Well timed splits can be effective of reducing mite populations, however its more of technique of IPM rather then an answer to varroa.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Lots of variables, not the least of which everything is local and will be different from one place to another.
    My advice would be to do what you plan and take mite counts before and periodically after....and decide for yourself.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    I don't see much benefit of doing splits/introducing queens, and that alone helping with varroa. If you divide up a hive's brood and bees equally, each part theoretically is going to have the same mite to bee ratio as it had before, or am I missing something? If you do a brood break and let the splits raise their own queen, then I can see a benefit to that. The only possible plus if there is one, would be that introducing new young queens immediately upon splitting would allow the queens to outbreed the mite somewhat from the start, but by fall/early winter the mites are going to be an issue again, just as they are every year at that time. What about honey production with all that splitting?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Amador County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    I don't see much benefit of doing splits/introducing queens, and that alone helping with varroa. If you divide up a hive's brood and bees equally, each part theoretically is going to have the same mite to bee ratio as it had before, or am I missing something? If you do a brood break and let the splits raise their own queen, then I can see a benefit to that. The only possible plus if there is one, would be that introducing new young queens immediately upon splitting would allow the queens to outbreed the mite somewhat from the start, but by fall/early winter the mites are going to be an issue again, just as they are every year at that time. What about honey production with all that splitting?
    Okay. I ask because last year my hives were doing excellent and I split them (2 new colonies per hive I had) and even those new colonies grew and I had enough to split all of them in the same manner. Maybe the new young queens outbred the mites? I don't know for sure because I didn't treat them at all and they all did fine until fall and winter when many collapsed.

    I'm not really looking for a honey crop this year (if I could get something that'd be nice though, as I plan on moving them around a bit so they have a constant food supply). I'm mainly trying to grow my numbers for next years pollination and honey flows.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    I am TF myself, and its up to you to do what you want as far as treating or not. I don't want to make this into a treatment free/treating discussion even though some consider splitting as a treatment of sorts. But obviously, making lots of successful splits throughout the year is useless if they all end up dead in late fall/winter from varroa. I want to grow my hive numbers too, and have done lots of splits over the last couple years, but I'm spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere because I'm losing too many hives to the mites. I wish I had the answer for you and me, but I don't as of now.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Amador County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    I am TF myself, and its up to you to do what you want as far as treating or not. I don't want to make this into a treatment free/treating discussion even though some consider splitting as a treatment of sorts. But obviously, making lots of successful splits throughout the year is useless if they all end up dead in late fall/winter from varroa. I want to grow my hive numbers too, and have done lots of splits over the last couple years, but I'm spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere because I'm losing too many hives to the mites. I wish I had the answer for you and me, but I don't as of now.
    I'm in the same situation. I've actually managed to overwinter about twice more than what I did last year but what I see happening is if they don't die the first winter they surely die the second one (I have only 1 hive that has made it more than 2 winters).

    Maybe with this splitting model that I tried to some extent last year (although I made my last splits too late in August which proved to be deadly) I'll be able to make up for my losses and actually grow some, maybe not. I don't think of it as a treatment at all but rather as a little help.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    I don't view it as a treatment either. But with the losses I am having the last couple winters, I would need to do 4:1 splits just to come out even the next spring, and do even more splits than that to come out ahead. I guess in theory its probably a do-able thing, just need much more equipment, and of course forget about getting a honey crop.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
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    112

    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Simple put the answer to your question is, NO.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Go to mdasplitter.com and study Mel's methods. I think you will find some answers.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeTheBeekeeper View Post
    I'm in the same situation. I've actually managed to overwinter about twice more than what I did last year but what I see happening is if they don't die the first winter they surely die the second one (I have only 1 hive that has made it more than 2 winters).

    Maybe with this splitting model that I tried to some extent last year (although I made my last splits too late in August which proved to be deadly) I'll be able to make up for my losses and actually grow some, maybe not. I don't think of it as a treatment at all but rather as a little help.
    I am a rank beginner but rather than splitting dubious hive genetics couldn't you graft from the 2 year survivor and hope that the virgin queens find a decent drone?
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
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    112

    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    I am a rank beginner but rather than splitting dubious hive genetics couldn't you graft from the 2 year survivor and hope that the virgin queens find a decent drone?
    YES, that is the thinking of a sustainable beekeeper!!!!!!!! Bravo. You are right on the ball.

    You don't even have to graft just split and let the new Queens just do their thing!!! You will get genes from your local feral survivors and that's what you want

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Amador County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Thacker View Post
    Simple put the answer to your question is, NO.
    Yes I see that now. Maybe a brood break would help somewhat but I won't be giving them brood breaks.

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    I am a rank beginner but rather than splitting dubious hive genetics couldn't you graft from the 2 year survivor and hope that the virgin queens find a decent drone?
    Yes that's what I plan on doing. I also plan on setting up a mating yard with several hives with qualities I like (build up speed, honey production, high bee population).

    I hope to create more-resistant bees. We'll see.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Canterbry, UK
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Thacker View Post
    YES, that is the thinking of a sustainable beekeeper!!!!!!!! Bravo. You are right on the ball.

    You don't even have to graft just split and let the new Queens just do their thing!!! You will get genes from your local feral survivors and that's what you want
    IFF... there are ferals about... If you're not sure buy some bred resistant bees to contribute - or do that anyway.

    Continuing along the same lines: you don't want big treatment dependent hives producing drones... so preserving them by splitting is likely going backward - unless you are requeening.

    Try to keep sets of hives in the same condition - same place, same regime - so that when you compare for best genetics you are comparing like for like.

    In my view you're doing the right thing in making increase, but the way you are doing it is giving you false readings about resistance - which you are aware of. I'd try to raise bees without creating false readings in the parent hives by having dedicated long bee-raising hives and a good cell building set up, then on to mini mating nucs. In other words, improve your bee raising skills until you can make as many colonies as you want without creating false readings due to brood extraction. Never mind the honey for a year or two, build bees and comb.

    Mike (UK)
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Strasburg, Pa, USA
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    116

    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    There are some great articles on this site www.mdasplitter.com I am going to try this with my hives here in PA, thats if it ever stops snowing or freezing rain.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,172

    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Splits with brood breaks work. I follow Mel's principles from mdasplitter, and then Mike Palmers 2 high nuc prep for overwintering - except that I use 2 high of 5 frames instead of Mike's 2 high of 4.

  17. #17
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    May 2009
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    Canterbry, UK
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    Splits with brood breaks work.
    'Work' toward what end? Does Mel have anything to say about the undesirability of (artificially) controlling mite populations via brood breaks taking adaptive pressure off the population, resulting in lowering of natural resistance?

    Mike (UK)
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Mike B., tell me in a nutshell what we are to do then? What is the solution to the bees building natural resistance to varroa?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Canterbry, UK
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Mike B., tell me in a nutshell what we are to do then? What is the solution to the bees building natural resistance to varroa?
    Do you mean how can we help them?

    Mike (UK)
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Hardin Cty, KY, USA
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    Default Re: Can splits control mites?

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    IFF... there are ferals about... If you're not sure buy some bred resistant bees to contribute - or do that anyway.
    I can't comment here I do not understand this comment. I understand the "IF" I'll put my money on Nature and take a chance but I am not wasting money on something Mother Nature will give me anyway (Darwin)

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    Continuing along the same lines: you don't want big treatment dependent hives producing drones... so preserving them by splitting is likely going backward - unless you are requeening.
    In the sustainable circles I would say requeening is going backwards. How do you know his splits will be "big treatment dependent hives producing drones" You don"t. There is no magic crystal ball that will predict the out come. Discovery is one of the FUN things here!

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    Try to keep sets of hives in the same condition - same place, same regime - so that when you compare for best genetics you are comparing like for like.
    If you buy queens to requeen you are not creating your own genetically strong stock you are propagating someone else's from somewhere else anyway.

    Spread your hives out go for diversity let the weak perish and keep the strong. Spend all that time wasted comparing this and that on more important things.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    In my view you're doing the right thing in making increase, but the way you are doing it is giving you false readings about resistance - which you are aware of. I'd try to raise bees without creating false readings in the parent hives by having dedicated long bee-raising hives and a good cell building set up, then on to mini mating nucs. In other words, improve your bee raising skills until you can make as many colonies as you want without creating false readings due to brood extraction. Never mind the honey for a year or two, build bees and comb.
    I agree with a good strong home apiary, but that pretty much happens on its own with hobby beeks anyway.

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