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  1. #381
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    I won't go on with this preliminary analysis, but suffice to say mite count is not tightly correlated with survival. Not for this group of hives. None the less I have a few nice low mite, nice spring cluster hives to work to make queens from this year.


    I think at this point we can see how completely unnuanced world view we have about mite/bee/virus interactions. There is so much to learn from untreated bees.
    I do some sampling these days but not really much. From the mid 90's until a few years ago, i would sample all of the time, alcohol wash and sticky boards seemed to be my life. Just a couple of thoughts that may or may not apply for you---- queen age seemed to mean a lot relative to fall mite samples when it comes to just winter survival. it seemed that the vast majority of 1st year queens would survive even with a relatively high mite load. however, come spring other parts of the story sometimes unfolded. many of those colonies start to crash and never develop into a true production hive. while other hives go crazy, simply outrun the mites thru the summer, produce a large crop but then crash before the next fall even arrives; that seems to be the biggest percentage. and then there are those colonies that can go forward with a high mite load, survive the winter, maintain some level of acceptable productivity and not crash that fall. those are the interesting ones; imagine that is where we will see future work with virus resistance play. when we talk about queens heading into their second winter it was different ball game. high mite loads in the fall corresponded to plenty of them not making it thru winter. but as a side note i'll say that was at the stage when the stock for vsh was being selected. at this point in the game there should be way more bees holding a level of mite resistance than what we had to work with 15+ years ago

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  3. #382
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    I do some sampling these days but not really much. From the mid 90's until a few years ago, i would sample all of the time, alcohol wash and sticky boards seemed to be my life. Just a couple of thoughts that may or may not apply for you---- queen age seemed to mean a lot relative to fall mite samples when it comes to just winter survival. it seemed that the vast majority of 1st year queens would survive even with a relatively high mite load. however, come spring other parts of the story sometimes unfolded. many of those colonies start to crash and never develop into a true production hive. while other hives go crazy, simply outrun the mites thru the summer, produce a large crop but then crash before the next fall even arrives; that seems to be the biggest percentage. and then there are those colonies that can go forward with a high mite load, survive the winter, maintain some level of acceptable productivity and not crash that fall. those are the interesting ones; imagine that is where we will see future work with virus resistance play. when we talk about queens heading into their second winter it was different ball game. high mite loads in the fall corresponded to plenty of them not making it thru winter. but as a side note i'll say that was at the stage when the stock for vsh was being selected. at this point in the game there should be way more bees holding a level of mite resistance than what we had to work with 15+ years ago
    LHarder and BigBlackBirds:

    Just wanted to comment that I really appreciate this information- fascinating stuff trying to correlate mite loads to long-term survival. While I have just started trying to keep systematic records of mite drops at regular intervals, it is sobering to note that it might not be easy (even long-term) to see any particular straight-line trends emerge between relative mite load and colony success.

    Enjoyed reading the dialogue, though I had to read through both of your posts a few times each to feel confident I had taken it all in.

  4. #383
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    I do some sampling these days but not really much. From the mid 90's until a few years ago, i would sample all of the time, alcohol wash and sticky boards seemed to be my life. Just a couple of thoughts that may or may not apply for you---- queen age seemed to mean a lot relative to fall mite samples when it comes to just winter survival. it seemed that the vast majority of 1st year queens would survive even with a relatively high mite load. however, come spring other parts of the story sometimes unfolded. many of those colonies start to crash and never develop into a true production hive. while other hives go crazy, simply outrun the mites thru the summer, produce a large crop but then crash before the next fall even arrives; that seems to be the biggest percentage. and then there are those colonies that can go forward with a high mite load, survive the winter, maintain some level of acceptable productivity and not crash that fall. those are the interesting ones; imagine that is where we will see future work with virus resistance play. when we talk about queens heading into their second winter it was different ball game. high mite loads in the fall corresponded to plenty of them not making it thru winter. but as a side note i'll say that was at the stage when the stock for vsh was being selected. at this point in the game there should be way more bees holding a level of mite resistance than what we had to work with 15+ years ago
    I have been slow to the sampling game as one can waste lots of time if it isn't carefully considered. I had my bees intensively sampled as part of a study and looking at the results, was not sure how meaningful the early counts were. I'm somewhat happy with the sampling I am doing, hives going into their 2nd winter (or more) allowing mite infestations to build where they are meaningful. I still see some holes especially if some of the hives are using a brood break at that time. Am I sampling prior to or after a brood break? I will do a few brood samples in May or so to compare hives with high fall counts with those with low. If I find high spring counts I may induce a brood break, then another with a queen cell from the better performers. Gradually I want to paint a picture of overall mite population dynamics in my tf system. I don't do any counts on my first year starts as of yet. Rather let viruses and mites take out the most susceptible the first winter. If I was a better beekeeper my survival would have been in the 90% range with these hives this year. I may do a few random samples to fill in that gap. The missing data is virus data. Hopeful I can start doing that. I did get some baseline data from 2 years ago just the other day. As well as some microbiota data that is in an unintelligible form. I need to know who is doing that work so I can talk to them.

  5. #384
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    LHarder and BigBlackBirds:

    Just wanted to comment that I really appreciate this information- fascinating stuff trying to correlate mite loads to long-term survival. While I have just started trying to keep systematic records of mite drops at regular intervals, it is sobering to note that it might not be easy (even long-term) to see any particular straight-line trends emerge between relative mite load and colony success.

    Enjoyed reading the dialogue, though I had to read through both of your posts a few times each to feel confident I had taken it all in.
    Besides identifying excellent low mite hives to raise queens from, part of this work is show other beekeepers what actually happens in terms of bee survival with various levels of mite infestation. We can also use this information to show (compared to colony performance without any resistance) that even a 20% brood infestation after 2 years is better than complete hive destruction seen with other non resistant hives. In terms of mite production, resistant hives produce far less. Also to show that tf keeping ultimately leads to resilient stock. I had one beekeeper panic about a 12% mite infestation (after treatment). He thought he was going to lose these bees for sure even after he treated with formic acid. Lo and behold they were just fine and may have been even if not treated. Its not a death sentence for a hive. Meanwhile I had a hive with low mites not survive. Perhaps we can use this information to shift the conversation to other things, like viruses, the impacts of bee importation on local bee genetics, and the viral environment. And of course how we all should be finding and selecting for mite resistance in our own stock.

  6. #385
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Sampling may be scientific methodology but I think interpreting the results is an art form! So many possible parameters to consider.
    Frank

  7. #386
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    Perhaps we can use this information to shift the conversation to other things, like viruses, the impacts of bee importation on local bee genetics, and the viral environment. And of course how we all should be finding and selecting for mite resistance in our own stock.
    LHarder: Great reply, and I think that all of us (TF or not) are looking forward to the day when varroa becomes a mere nuisance or even better, an afterthought (like tracheal mites). I appreciate reading about the work that you are doing, and I am hopeful that one day I can make some confident predictions of colony success based on the mite drop data.

    Have a great weekend.

    Russ

  8. #387
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Sampling may be scientific methodology but I think interpreting the results is an art form! So many possible parameters to consider.
    Agreed, and scrutiny of sampling is part of that analysis. These results lead to more questions. But expanding the scope of discussion is a good end result.

  9. #388
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Checked on one of my nuc sites. This is the one I had some hives starve. I think of the 30 I had out there, only one was an obvious deadout because of small fall size. The starve outs were definitely that. Some had a bit of stores below, but the boxes the clusters were in were devoid of stores. If February wasn't so cold, I could have done much better, probably close to 90 % survival like my other nuc site. Some of the late starts I assumed would need help and put a feeding rim with 3.5 kg of fondant right on the cluster at the beginning of winter Of these, 6 of 7 made it with small spring clusters, but all with brood. Some could use a shake or so of nurse bees, but will probably build on their own if left to their own devices. I looked at the bottom boards of the dead outs and found only a few mites. Reduced the box number on a couple of nucs that were not strong enough to take care of their winter set up. I did give one nuc a shake of bees. Kind of half heartedly as this was a strong nuc going into fall. With the number of hives I have, it may be better to let nature do its work. Its sister going gangbusters next door on 12 frames. Pollen coming in and brood present on all remaining 17 nucs.

  10. #389
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    So queen rearing season begins. I placed my first batch of cells yesterday and will place another batch a week from now. Will place about 20 a week and be done placing cells half way through June, depending on the interest in my nucs. Almost all my hives are in their permanent locations. Just some dribs and drabs left. Almost all overwintered nucs have been placed in big boxes. I am still making them like a banshee. I installed a new site which s about 1/3 full already.

    The bees are really taking off. Even the weak sisters last put in big boxes have 5 frames of brood. I will have trouble keeping up to them. It was so nice to have lots of bees to work with making up nucs. I put so much strain on one site last year, draining them of bees.

    So my strategy this year is to use strong hives with early fall brood mite counts of less than 10 percent and survive at least 2 years. My longest surviving hive was at 8 percent for perspective. She is doing well this year. My strongest 2 year survivor had a mite count of about 15 percent. I have a few in the 2/3/4 percent, and these will be over represented in the queen rearing. I will be requeening hives with counts over 20 percent. Nature has already taken some of these out of the equation this spring, and I don't believe there is a strong hive with fall mites counts in this range. There was one, but the queen disappeared with no brood. I will simply kill the queen, come by at 9 days and destroy all the queen cells and give them a frame of open brood from a good hive. An extra long brood break.

    So there may be a 2 yr threshold resolving for my location for thriving bees. It is probably around 15 percent fall brood count. My medium term goal is to shift the distribution curve to be mostly under 10 percent. It is interesting to see how the genetics of poor hives is weeded out by nature over time. Death isn't necessarily needed. Weakened hives do not reproduce or put out very many drones. There were also failures at lower mite counts. I believe there is more going on than mites, and these failures indicate susceptibility to other factors such as viruses. I have an article in progress, and when it is published at will provide a more complete data set and outcomes here.

    Just as a casual observation I am observing some chewed out drone brood. Indication of bees at work.

  11. #390
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    I believe there is more going on than mites, and these failures indicate susceptibility to other factors such as viruses. I have an article in progress, and when it is published at will provide a more complete data set and outcomes here.
    LHarder:

    Excellent post. I apprecaited reading the specific matrices that you have developed for evaluating your propagation efforts- that is a very helpful jumping-off spot for those of us who are not yet at the point of moving past survival.

    I also look forward to reading your article, and I assume you will be kind enough to post it here?

    Thanks again for the update and the selection details- very helpful.

    Have a great day.

    Russ

  12. #391
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    I think the mite counting and tracking outcomes is proving useful. My writing is not the best so the editor will have to wrestle it into some sort of shape. May take some time. I will post a link.

  13. #392

    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post

    So my strategy this year is to use strong hives with early fall brood mite counts of less than 10 percent and survive at least 2 years. My longest surviving hive was at 8 percent for perspective. She is doing well this year. My strongest 2 year survivor had a mite count of about 15 percent. I have a few in the 2/3/4 percent, and these will be over represented in the queen rearing. I will be requeening hives with counts over 20 percent. Nature has already taken some of these out of the equation this spring, and I don't believe there is a strong hive with fall mites counts in this range. There was one, but the queen disappeared with no brood. I will simply kill the queen, come by at 9 days and destroy all the queen cells and give them a frame of open brood from a good hive. An extra long brood break.

    So there may be a 2 yr threshold resolving for my location for thriving bees. It is probably around 15 percent fall brood count. My medium term goal is to shift the distribution curve to be mostly under 10 percent. It is interesting to see how the genetics of poor hives is weeded out by nature over time. Death isn't necessarily needed. Weakened hives do not reproduce or put out very many drones. There were also failures at lower mite counts. I believe there is more going on than mites, and these failures indicate susceptibility to other factors such as viruses.
    I too believe that virus situation is not very bad if hives over 10% infestation are doing well.

    Have you heard of the work of Eric Erickson in Arizona? There is something about his work in American Bee Journal 8/2000.
    I have read about him only through some articles by Erik Österlund.
    One is here: http://naturligbiodling.eu/blogg/?p=520

    When he started his threshold was 15, then was dropped to 10 and after 6 years it was max 6-7%.

    This relates very well what I have discovered.
    Last edited by Juhani Lunden; 05-08-2019 at 11:37 PM.

  14. #393
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    I haven't heard of his work. I will do some reading.

    How and when do you do your mite counts Juhani? I would guess that a brood count could be different than one taken from adult bees. In theory, with reduced brood nests in early fall, a brood count could be higher than an adult count. Then there were hives with such terrible brood that no brood sample was taken. The adult bee population was ok but I didn't think much of their chances. These all seem to be doing well this spring. I suspect a mite murdering spree was in progress. So many questions...

  15. #394

    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post

    How and when do you do your mite counts Juhani?
    sugar shakes from adult bees, mainly just before queen rearing season starts

    never done brood infestation counts

  16. #395
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    sugar shakes from adult bees, mainly just before queen rearing season starts

    never done brood infestation counts
    There would be a big difference between your and my results. Typically sugar shakes done now (the start of my queen rearing season) would yield few mites compared to the late summer fall season. I would guess my 15% early fall brood count would be under your threshold if I took a sugar shake now. The bee inspector is going to come in the next couple weeks and maybe I will suggest her try this test case.

  17. #396

    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    There would be a big difference between your and my results. Typically sugar shakes done now (the start of my queen rearing season) would yield few mites compared to the late summer fall season. I would guess my 15% early fall brood count would be under your threshold if I took a sugar shake now. The bee inspector is going to come in the next couple weeks and maybe I will suggest her try this test case.
    Could be. But I have also seen cases when sugar shake done in August is less than one done in May. And even taking account nucs made of those colonies.

  18. #397
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    so far I haven't encountered this but my n is far less than yours. Two years ago the bee inspector did sugar shakes about this time of year and found my mites were only slightly above other operations in the area. My highest was about 3% and that colony died the following winter. I can imagine scenarios like the one you mentioned. I think I have seen my bees do a concerted effort of mite killing in an episode at the time of last years sampling. Very little brood and what there was, was very spotty. No sample to be taken. Yet those colonies were strong this spring. Hope to have a fairly complete description of mite dynamics in my system over time. This spring will do a few comparisons of low and high fall mite colonies to see what they did with the mites over winter. And I should look at the no sample colonies.

  19. #398
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    I was placing some queen cells today at one of my sites. Since I was there I tried to find and kill a queen of a hive that had a 30 plus percent brood mite count last fall. I couldn't find her, but since I was there I took a brood sample to have a look.

    This hive started slow but seems to be picking up steam. It was a good honey producer last year.

    So I won't be coy and ask for predictions, but I am wondering if a few could pause a bit, make a prediction before reading the result and post it.

    I counted 100 pink eyed pupae and found 0 mites. Must be all in the drone brood.

  20. #399
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    very cool lharder. did you change your mind about requeening that one?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  21. #400
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    you can call me Leroy.

    Re requeening, confused and a bit dazed. Don't know

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