Nick Spoon, there is a lot of good advice here. Most on here seem to recommend starting with two hives and a nuc but I started with just one too. I soon realized one wasn't enough. I want to keep two full size hives but now feel in order to do that I need to keep a few nucs. This past fall I did mite counts using the detergent wash method and plan to do them every spring and fall now even though I am treatment free. It really helps as to management decisions.
(Down to 2 KTBH nucs from 5 at the start of winter)
3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b
Thanks Colleen O. So you keep the nucs as backup brood/queens to support the 2 full-size hives? When you say you're down to 2 nucs from 5, is that because you've been merging the nucs into the full-size hives periodically, or have they just died over winter? When you merge hives, do you just kill one of the queens, or do you only do it when one of the queens has died anyway?
It's still daytime where you are. Why not look them up and give them a ring?
What's the worst that they can say? I think that you'll find that trying to get hold of resistant stock will always take time and effort.
But, I'll say this, finding them by telephone or internet is a lot easier than going on a 'safari'.
I think it's them...
Rainbow Honey & Hiveware
32 Karaka St, Hamilton, New Zealand
Phone: 0-25-742 904
Last edited by WLC; 03-03-2014 at 10:26 PM.
This last fall I should have combined (merged) two of my weakest nucs and if I had that colony might have made it. From the mite testing and other behavior observations I knew which queen I wanted to keep (I would have pinched the other one and done a combine) but was afraid to do it because the mite count on the one colony was so bad. In hindsight I may have been better served doing something about the mites in the weak colony so that I could combine them. Lots of hard earned lessons in beekeeping.
Also of note, there are tests to see if your bees are hygienic. I didn't do the freeze test but I observed some of the traits in my locally mated daughter from the hygienic package queen which is why I kept her.
3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b
Hi Nick you lurker you
To date I havent heard anything from any beekeepers that would make me want to rush out and buy a VSH queen.
If you decide to get one I would be really interested to hear how it performs for you
Nick I have read your thread. If you do not treat the bees they will be dead in a few months.
This is New Zealand, not America.
But I'm not saying that to encourage you to treat, the best lesson learned is the hard one. If you lose you bees you will be wiser next time.
The two methods you suggested being sugar and formic are unlikely to work for you. Sugar, cos it does not actually kill mites, and formic because it needs to be done in the right hive configuration and a top bar is very difficult.
However this is the treatment free section and I've probably already stretched the patience of some.
Are you active on NZBees? If so there are quite a few with tops bars, you could ask them what they do, there will be two groups, those who treat, and those who no longer have bees.
Last edited by Oldtimer; 03-04-2014 at 04:58 AM.
Maybe both you and frazzledfozzle should get a few VSH queens from Rainbow honey. From one study I've read, if they are in fact 80% VSH, they should be able to maintain mite loads below 5%.
Any new resistance genetics is better than none.
Maybe you should first find what they are, and then find out if we have already.
They are beginning to sound like an organization that absorbs public funds for the purpose of ...... er, well, absorbing public funds.
DarJones - NW Alabama, 46 years, 24 colonies, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest
Nick there are several ways to manipulate the hive to get around the mites without using chemical treatments. From brood breaks, removing capped brood to shook swarming. They should be used throughout the season at key times for best results. It may be too late in your season to apply any of these, I don't know your location.
In my location the winter bees mostly emerge in Oct. With that in mind one option that will reduce mite numbers going into winter is to remove one cycle of capped brood just after harvest. You can freeze the capped brood killing the mites then replace the comb after it has been warmed and had the brood capping's removed. Again in my location this would be done in Aug, not sure of the timing for you. Aug is the latest as 2 months of brood rearing is important to get back to a populous hive that can produce a good crop of winter bees. As a mention our honey flow is mostly over around July 15th so feeding is needed to generate brood rearing. This is a bit extreme and would only be done to save a colony that has a high mite load due to neglect.
If you are really wanting to not use chemical treatments in your hive/s it would be to your advantage to look into brood breaks and shook swarming. To do nothing will not help your bees prosper. A good start would be to have a look a Mel Disselkoen's video.
Last edited by Delta Bay; 03-04-2014 at 10:22 AM.
If so, from whom, how many, what was the VSH %age, and how did they do? Also, did you remember to re-queen regularly?
I liked the VSH bees I had. However, I needed bees that are more suited to very high, July rooftop temperatures. Thus, the BeeWeavers from Texas. On the flip side, now I get to see how Texas bees can handle a tough winter.
From whom? Thought you knew everything. Rainbow obviously.
How did they do? Got mites like all the other bees.
Don't get me wrong I support the breeding program & have in fact discussed it on Beesource several times. But there is more work needs doing. I'm not sure there is a fixed, mite resistant, VSH line anywhere in the world.
Rainbow is saying they're 80% VSH at this time. What was the stated %age when you bought yours?
The reason %age VSH is important is that a study indicated that at 75% VSH, the mite load was below the critical 5% threshold.
Also, you really have to state for how long you had them, and if you re-queened with VSH regularly. Once the VSH queens are gone, they're like any other bees.
Last edited by WLC; 03-04-2014 at 03:43 PM.
Thanks very much to everyone for your advice. To be clear, I am not dedicated to any particular methodology or course of action, I'm just trying to further my knowledge so I can make good decisions - I am currently researching as many different options as I can, and as I've only just caught the beek obsession it takes a while to catch up.
Treatment free is a concept that I love and most of what Michael Bush writes sounds great, but as I said I was unsure whether this was even possible with a single hive and I was curious about the "hole" in my reading regarding a minimum number of hives required for TF beekeeping. It has been made clear in the various responses that it is far better to have a couple of extra hives in general, it is crucial for TF beekeeping, and TF is not really possible in NZ at this time (although as I mentioned earlier, Roy Arbon is doing it on the west coast of the SI, but I'm unsure how long he's been going - it also sounds like a couple of others on the NZBees forum are at least attempting it).