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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Does Extra Drone Comb in Hive Increase Varroa Mites?

    When sorting through dead outs and preparing equipment to be used for spring splits, how critical is it to remove old comb full of drone cells. When I prepare a box for a spring split I will reuse some drawn out comb along with some new frames. For years I have always got rid of any old frames that had too much drone comb. The thinking is that the new hive will produce extra drone brood causing the varroa mite population to grow more quickly. What are your thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Default Re: Does Extra Drone Comb in Hive Increase Varroa Mites?

    I have about 25% drone comb in my hives. You would have trouble finding a Varroa mite. You can find one if you look long enough, but it's not easy...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,290

    Default Re: Does Extra Drone Comb in Hive Increase Varroa Mites?

    Controlled studies have shown that varroa reproduces twice as fast in drone brood (2.6 mites per cycle) as it does in worker brood (1.3). Studies have also shown that there can be as many mites raised over the brooding season in 50-60 drone cells as could be raised in 1000 worker cells.

    If you use culling of poor comb to reduce drone cells, you reduce the rate at which the mite population grows. If you control on which comb the drones are produced, you can remove them, freeze them and kill the mites that are in their cells. The drone comb frames can then be reused after freezing. Google Drone Brood removal by Nick Calderone.

    The Swiss have done studies that say drone brood removal works early in the year , but that it becomes less effective when mite populations are above 700 mites. This is why it is best to combine drone removal with other methods to keep varroa numbers down. The goal is to prevent the varroa from reaching the point that they damage the colony.

    I think you are correct when you try to limit growth by culling bad comb, small reductions in the percentage of growth can make a difference by the end of the brood producing season.
    37 years - 25 colonies - IPM disciple - naturally skeptic

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,902

    Default Re: Does Extra Drone Comb in Hive Increase Varroa Mites?

    If you run foundationless frames, you may have some brood combs that are just about all drone, those I would get rid of, but brood combs that are 75-80% worker and the rest drone should probably be kept, because culling out too much drone comb will only result in more being built somewhere else. Getting every last cell of drone out of the hive will not keep the mites under control, there's way more to it than that.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: Does Extra Drone Comb in Hive Increase Varroa Mites?

    Thanks for the info. This really helps.

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