Preparing for spring & package bee regression - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Patience is indeed needed, but you are the man whose tagline says "Always question Conventional Wisdom". That doesn't mean conventional wisdom is wrong.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Patience is indeed needed, but you are the man whose tagline says "Always question Conventional Wisdom". That doesn't mean conventional wisdom is wrong.
    Where is the conventional wisdom here? Buying bees, learning to work them comfortably, Learning to know what you are looking at when you inspect a hive, learning to identify and intervene when problems arise, and expecting a honey crop the first season is an unrealistic set of goals for a single season.

    A package offers advantages that a new beek will not get from a nuc.... Like what does a queen look like? I have had many new beekeepers see a drone and think it was a queen. With a package the new beekeeper can see the queen at install and know that they are looking at a queen. They can see the process of comb being drawn and see the stages of brood from egg to larva, to capped/emerging. In a nuc they get it all at once and it can be overwhelming. With a nuc they may not see their queen once the entire season. They are more likely to have to deal with a swarm the first season. they are certainly more likely to have to deal with a wider variety of disease the first season.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  4. #23
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    And a nuc offers advantages a new beek can't get from a package.... Like a crop of honey the first season. Tell me someday how many packages you have started in the deep South and lets figure out if it works very well. Lets see, if I really get lucky, I can get a package April 2nd and the queen starts laying 2 days later on the 4th. Those bees hatch on the 25th of April just as the main flow starts. The bees from the package are getting old by then and dying in droves. For two weeks, the newly hatched bees are not yet ready to forage, then finally they hit the decks running and start collecting nectar after the main flow is half gone. The population builds for 2 more weeks before finally peaking with maybe 25,000 foragers just as the flow ends. If I'm lucky, I got all the combs drawn out in the brood area and maybe enough extra nectar to get the bees through the mid-summer dearth.

    Do the same timeline with a nuc with 3 frames of sealed brood and I have continuous brood production right up to the time the main flow starts, the bees are physiologically young enough to make some honey, they build comb expeditiously, and at the end of the flow, I get some honey. Maybe if I'm lucky I get to put a little money in my pocket from selling that honey. Yep, I think this one can be answered pretty easy. Package? or Nuc?
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  5. #24
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Why do you wait until April 2nd? If I could use packages in February I can get them in February... I get them in May because that is the best time to get them for this area, early enough to catch the dandelion and basswood, late enough that I don't have to worry about cold snaps or excessive feeding.

    Your timeline is off on time of death for the original package bees. Packages when properly shook are shook from brood frames, most of the bees are young nurse bees that end up in the package. The newly established hive will not have much brood for them, but nurse bees have the longest life ahead of them and they can't fly which makes getting them in the package easier. So the bulk of the bees in the package are less than 10 days old.

    Because they don't have brood the focus on drawing comb, once the queen starts laying some will tend brood, some will continue to draw comb tend the hive and some will advance to foraging. Now two things impact their lifespan. Exposure to brood pheromone is directly correlated to worker bee mortality, that is why a worker who should only live about 6 weeks can live through a winter in the absence of brood. The new colony has very little brood so the mortality rate of the original package of bees is less. The package also doesn't need the resources of a full colony so the workers do not kill them selves collecting resources as quickly.

    Okay so back to your timeline using the 6 week rule.
    If you get the package on April 2nd it was packed on April 1st.
    1. The oldest bees in the pack are 10 days old, but we have bees from 0-10 days old in the pack.
    2. So we can divide the amount of bees by 10 and using the 6 week rule the first 10% of the package is going to die on April 27th. (2 days after your first set of eggs start to hatch.)
    You have a 2 day over lap from when your first 10% die and you loose 10% for 10 consecutive days after that.
    It doesn't take long for the queen to start to outlay the 10% loss per day.
    Factor in the extended life span as I outlines above and you really have about a 7-10 days of overlap between emergence and the death of the original workers.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  6. #25
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Have you tried to purchase packages in early March? Especially packages with good established laying queens?

    Get past the age of the brood and the age of the bees in the package and the days a worker lives. At the end of the day, which one will make a crop of honey and I don't mean just what the bees need to live over the summer. Which one makes surplus I can harvest?
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  7. #26
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Have you tried to purchase packages in early March? Especially packages with good established laying queens?

    Get past the age of the brood and the age of the bees in the package and the days a worker lives. At the end of the day, which one will make a crop of honey and I don't mean just what the bees need to live over the summer. Which one makes surplus I can harvest?
    As an experienced beekeeper with drawn comb, all other dependent variables aside, a package will make you a honey crop the first season. There are people up this way who kill there bees every fall and start over with packages the next spring. People who are only in it for the honey and find it cheaper to buy new bees than to leave them valuable honey and hope they survive the winter.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  8. #27
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Agreed that is completely viable up there, but I'm stating that it is not viable here in the deep south. This is the point I originally made that what works up there gives unacceptable results here.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  9. #28
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    No... Still done selling packages. I am just a realist. Not every producer of nucs does a good job just like not every producer of packages does a good job. Now days with places around here selling packages at 130.00 a pop, I would personally go for a nuc if it can be had for 145.00, but I am seeing a lot of nucs around listed in the 160s and 170s, in that case I would go for the package.

    If a new beek really wants to get their feet wet they should source both and do their own comparison.

    They both have their uses, my bias towards packages is two fold. 1st you know exactly what you are getting. I like to buy bees from various sources to see what people are doing... I bought some 5 frame nucs a few years ago out of PA and when I picked them up found that they were 4 frames with an empty foundation frame. Most of the drawn frames were all busted up and at the end of their life cycle. I went through what the producer had available and took the best 10 I could find, but it was some pretty thin pickings. 2nd there are more cases of really lousy nucs out there like the one I outlined above than there are reputable producers.

    I don't like the quasi-genetic arguments for local nucs... Brother Adam took 70 years of selective breeding to get to the buckfasts that he wanted. He wrote that for every trait he selected for it took 10 years of breeding to fix that trait. And that is with bees and god being the only thing on his mind... for the rest of us it would take much longer.
    Nobody in the Nuc production business has been at it long enough to make a claim of superior genetics. An experienced beekeeper can buy package bees from New Zealand, hive them in Maine and have a reasonable amount of success with them.
    Do you think, though, a package from NZ to Maine would perform as well as a nuc made from bees that had been bred in Maine for say at least 10 years? Require more feed? Come out of winter with as healthy a population? I genuinely want to know what you think.

    Also, a package may cost less than a nuc, but by the time you requeened it(as often recommended) that's another $30-35 and not too far from just getting a nuc.

  10. #29
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by SRatcliff View Post
    Do you think, though, a package from NZ to Maine would perform as well as a nuc made from bees that had been bred in Maine for say at least 10 years? Require more feed? Come out of winter with as healthy a population? I genuinely want to know what you think.

    Also, a package may cost less than a nuc, but by the time you requeened it(as often recommended) that's another $30-35 and not too far from just getting a nuc.
    It works for Canada, they have been doing it for 29 years.

    I don't buy queens to requeen packs the first year. I do re-queen them though because there is a high rate of queen failure in packs within several months of hatch. Most often I send them into winter with their own daughters. I call it "rapid cycling" the queens.

    Everybody who has "local stock" started from somewhere and more often than not it was not with local stock. Without the educational background to actually selectively breed (and AI equipment or isolated mating yards) we can't effectively select for anything.

    People frequently tout "acclimated" to a region as the best option. If reminds me of what Brother Adam said on the matter, and that was that bees can't be acclimated, if you brought them to an area and they lived, they did so because they were able too naturally, if they dies, you had nothing to breed from to create acclimated lines.

    Langstroth brought the first Italian bees over into PA which is pretty harsh compared to the areas of Italy they came from... they did really well. More recently the USDA brought what we call "Russian" bees from Primorsky Kria and dropped them onto islands in Louisiana. They also did well.

    Then think of all the migrators who run bees all over this country. Their bees certainly are not getting acclimated to any one place because they are always on the move. Yes they have problems, but look at the stresses they expose those bees too... Drastic changes in environment, altitude, food sources, weather, humidity....
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  11. #30
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    I think that just because they lived, doesn't mean they are optimized for the area. It sounds like you're saying that bees can't adapt, and I mean that in the evolutionary sense.

  12. #31
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by SRatcliff View Post
    I think that just because they lived, doesn't mean they are optimized for the area. It sounds like you're saying that bees can't adapt, and I mean that in the evolutionary sense.
    They are not optimized for here to begin with.... wipe out the introduced plant species that came here the same way the honey bee did and you end beekeeping in North America. They only succeeded because we also brought dandelion, alfalfa, clover, apples, citrus, almonds and the 100s of other introduced plants from areas with native honey bee populations. Very few of the plants our bees depend on where here before the bee.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  13. #32
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    They are not optimized for here to begin with.... wipe out the introduced plant species that came here the same way the honey bee did and you end beekeeping in North America. They only succeeded because we also brought dandelion, alfalfa, clover, apples, citrus, almonds and the 100s of other introduced plants from areas with native honey bee populations. Very few of the plants our bees depend on where here before the bee.
    But they can become optimized, through natural selection, can't they? If characteristics like brooding patterns or clustering are somewhat fixed at a genetic level, then doesn't it make sense that some bees may do better in different climates? Take the apple tree for example; if my history is right(if not please correct me) most of the grafted apple trees brought to North America died when they tried planting them. It was through the seeds(due to their high genetic variability) that they were able to grow more fit apple trees over time.

  14. #33
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Very few of the plants our bees depend on were here before the bee.
    Like maybe Basswood, Sourwood, Black Locust, tupelo, a few hundred species of clover, vetch, and other legumes, various thistles, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, brambles, etc.

    Langstroth was not the first to import Italians to the U.S. though he did popularize using them by writing about their desirable traits. I have seen a report that Italians were imported to the U.S. as described in a 1622 ships manifest that listed over 100 hives of bees brought from Italy.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  15. #34
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Fusion
    Many you mention are introduced or co-originates
    Basswood, locust and the maples as well as many of the others you mentioned including Vetch were native to the Americas, but also native to Europe and Asia as well. Tupelo is a dogwood and those are also native to both sides of the pond. Blackberries are from both sides of the pond... Raspberries came from Asia... Blueberries are native to North America and bees hate them....

    SRatcliff: Natural selection takes a lot more time than the history of bees in American has been. Yes traits can be set... obviously bees that winter with smaller clusters consume less food and are at a less risk of starvation.

    To challenge your way of thinking. What other agricultural practices can you think of where something can be made to prosper regionally through selective breeding? Do all the selection you want on an orange tree you will never get a grove of them to grow in Boston... You can select for sugar content, color, citric acid content etc....

    Any other livestock we can think of where buying local gets the best results? In the dairy industry every few years we would bring in stock from as far away as we could find it to diversify the genetic pool.

    I personally do not think that local genetics in bees results in high enough winter survivalbility to theorize that they can be adapted to a geographic region in as short of a period of years that we are talking about. The best beekeepers with the most inbred local stock still loose 20-30-40% a year.

    I often wonder if many of the issues we have with bees are directly correlated with queen quality? Lousy queen reduces moral in the colony and bees who previously tolerated mites well suddenly succumb to them.
    Last edited by bluegrass; 01-21-2016 at 05:52 PM.
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  16. #35
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    Fusion
    Many you mention are introduced or co-originates
    Basswood, locust and the maples as well as many of the others you mentioned including Vetch were native to the Americas, but also native to Europe and Asia as well. Tupelo is a dogwood and those are also native to both sides of the pond. Blackberries are from both sides of the pond... Raspberries came from Asia... Blueberries are native to North America and bees hate them....

    SRatcliff: Natural selection takes a lot more time than the history of bees in American has been. Yes traits can be set... obviously bees that winter with smaller clusters consume less food and are at a less risk of starvation.

    To challenge your way of thinking. What other agricultural practices can you think of where something can be made to prosper regionally through selective breeding? Do all the selection you want on an orange tree you will never get a grove of them to grow in Boston... You can select for sugar content, color, citric acid content etc....

    Any other livestock we can think of where buying local gets the best results? In the dairy industry every few years we would bring in stock from as far away as we could find it to diversify the genetic pool.

    I personally do not think that local genetics in bees results in high enough winter survivalbility to theorize that they can be adapted to a geographic region in as short of a period of years that we are talking about. The best beekeepers with the most inbred local stock still loose 20-30-40% a year.

    I often wonder if many of the issues we have with bees are directly correlated with queen quality? Lousy queen reduces moral in the colony and bees who previously tolerated mites well suddenly succumb to them.
    Sure some species of organisms seem to have more biological limitations than others, but fortunately Apis Mellifera has evolved subspecies that have adapted to a wide range of environments, from northern Europe to South Africa. The several subspecies that were imported to North America luckily were suited enough to get established, and probably even more so when they mixed and mated with each other. Had it been only a south African subspecies, we probably wouldn't have honey bees in the upper half of the States.

    I do think because of how polyandrous honeybees are, their high recombination rate, and the different mix of subspecies we have, that expressions of traits can change relatively quickly.

  17. #36
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by SRatcliff View Post
    I do think because of how polyandrous honeybees are, their high recombination rate, and the different mix of subspecies we have, that expressions of traits can change relatively quickly.
    I agree, but I think the timeline is 1000s of years instead of 100s of 1000s. As humans we can only select for what we can physically identify. That is what BA did with the buckfasts and it took 70 years of non-stop completely controlled selective breeding. We don't have the luxury of that and with absolute control of 50% it isn't something happening effectively in the amateur apiaries in America.

    The other point to consider is that if such adaptation was being accomplished we would be able to identify changes in the bees phenotype.

    Consider the history of bees in America. Doolittle was in up State NY, Langstroth in PA etc... the people who did it and did it successfully often did it in northern climates. They didn't report huge winter losses and a need to bring bees in from the south. That didn't come along until diseases where being identified as the culprits.

    I think the same is true today, in the absence of disease any European honey bee can do well and prosper anywhere in the lower 48.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  18. #37
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    I agree, but I think the timeline is 1000s of years instead of 100s of 1000s. As humans we can only select for what we can physically identify. That is what BA did with the buckfasts and it took 70 years of non-stop completely controlled selective breeding. We don't have the luxury of that and with absolute control of 50% it isn't something happening effectively in the amateur apiaries in America.

    The other point to consider is that if such adaptation was being accomplished we would be able to identify changes in the bees phenotype.

    Consider the history of bees in America. Doolittle was in up State NY, Langstroth in PA etc... the people who did it and did it successfully often did it in northern climates. They didn't report huge winter losses and a need to bring bees in from the south. That didn't come along until diseases where being identified as the culprits.

    I think the same is true today, in the absence of disease any European honey bee can do well and prosper anywhere in the lower 48.
    Interesting perspective, thanks. One last thing I might add is how long it took Capensis(and other African and africanized bees) to become very tolerant to mites. Something like 5-10 years in some cases? Of course, that's regarding defensive mechanism and those bees were somehow "primed" to become tolerant faster, but I don't see why that wouldn't apply to their sister subspecies in regards to adapting to climate. If you have a healthy population and enough diverse gene pool.

  19. #38
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    I agree, but I think the timeline is 1000s of years instead of 100s of 1000s.
    Not even thousands are required for bees to adapt to a region or area. The last ice age is just 10,000 years in the past. Since then, western honeybees spread through Europe and large parts of Asia adapting to regions as far north as Finland. Honeybees in the U.S. have the genetic diversity of about 20 geographical races from Caucasica, Ligustica, Carnica, Lamarckii, Scutellata, and others. Regionally adapted bees are out there as ferals already. Stating that there are no regionally adapted bees in the U.S. is highly biased toward commercial beekeeping which uses breeds that are not adapted to any specific climate, rather have been selected for adaptation to commercial beekeeping.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  20. #39
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    There actually has been quite a bit of scientific research on the subject. Two studies that come to mind is one from 2013 in Canada were they evaluated DNA differences in mitochondria of bees guts. They did find variation, but it was in samples from vastly different geographic areas, like Australia and NZ compared to California.

    A second study was done in Poland in 2008 which found phenotype differences between commercially bee operations and wild populations. (I say wild because they were referring to native honeybees which we do not have here in North America)

    There has been some research within the USA which did not come to the same conclusions, the population isn't as genetically diverse as one might think due to closed borders and massive die offs. And commercial operators frequently depend on purchased queens from specific geographic areas which has farther degraded the diversity of the stock.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  21. #40
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    Default Re: Preparing for spring & package bee regression

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Not even thousands are required for bees to adapt to a region or area. The last ice age is just 10,000 years in the past. Since then, western honeybees spread through Europe and large parts of Asia adapting to regions as far north as Finland.
    A good argument of climate change, not so much for environmental adaptation of the species.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

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