correlation between density and defense behavior
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  1. #1

    Default correlation between density and defense behavior

    To start an exchange about expansion models I would like to hear your opinions.

    The expansion models often mean that many small splits are done so losses are compensated and selection processes are enforced.

    There is a danger to that. The colonies are very small and often not able to sustain themselves.
    If left alone in this state bees try to get strong again and might "forget" about mite defense.

    But thatīs my speculation.
    I would like to know how bees priorities are after splitting and to hear about the correlations between density and defense behavior.

    I think it`s one of the most important questions in our tf proceedings.
    This because of the managements dependance on the local environmental circumstances.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Define small splits - what's on the frames (% eggs larvae capped reserves)?
    How many bees (i.e.amount of bees that cover a deep frame) their ages (nurse, house, forage, sentry etc)?
    When are the splits being made? I live in Florida and go by in dearth not in dearth, seasons are not as extreme but we still have them. How many per year off the nucleus? Too many splits is just not a good idea. Not a good idea to force splits. Better to wait for all signs to point to the direction that they are ready to reproduce. Do we assume that the queen mother is tested with LN for 85% or more hygenic behavior as a base line? Priorities - temporal polyethism or age related division of labor. I have heard of young bees foraging early but not old bees going backwards to nurse. Are there other beekeepers within the forage range of your yard? How far do you move your splits from the parent colony?
    Last edited by HoneyMonk; 10-29-2016 at 11:42 AM. Reason: grammar

  4. #3
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    in my first few years of keeping bees and when my goal was to grow the hive count each season i used the 'artificial swarm' method to make splits, i.e. when natural swarming time approached i would remove the queen and about 3 deep frames of bees, brood, and stores to make up a new queenright hive and allow the parent colony to requeen itself.

    once i got up to the number of hives i wanted, i adopted michael palmer's 'sustainable apiary' approach whereby i identified colonies that were less productive, too swarmy, went queenless anyway, a caught swarm of unknown origin, ect...

    and used these colonies for splitting up into nucs containing at least one frame of brood and 2 - 3 deep frames of bees along with some stores, and provided those splits with queen cells grafted from my best colonies.

    of my 19 overwintered colonies this season, only 3 of them were used for splits and 1 was used for queen cell building and then split after grafting was finished for the year.

    i haven't observed that the 'new' colonies exhibit any particular advantage or disadvantage with respect to colony health as compared to the colonies that were not split. most of these starters come into being around or just after the time that most colonies would swarm anyway if not prevented by effective management.

    i think honeymonk makes good points about making splits strong enough with a balance of bees of all ages and at a time when the flows are supporting colony expansion as they do during swarm season.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    > There is a danger to that. The colonies are very small and often not able to sustain themselves. If left alone in this state bees try to get strong again and might "forget" about mite defense.

    Do you mean VSH? Or what some call a subset of the overarching VSH behavior like mite fighter / intense allogroomers where bees will shake vigorously or bite the legs mites? Either way I believe this behavior is genetic and depends on all that your queen got mated with. Making a split makes a brood break (walk away splits) and this is definetly what you want in order to help them control varroa

  6. #5
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by HoneyMonk View Post
    .
    Not a good i I have heard of young bees foraging early but not old bees going backwards to nurse.
    In a natural swarm the young bees leave with the queen. In a natural swarm enough young bees may remain behind for brood rearing but in a natural swarm the queen stops laying so there may not be much open brood. In a Taranov swarm only field bees remain with the brood and it seems to work just fine.

  7. #6

    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Many thanks for the interesting and valuable informations.

    @ SP I knew that I could rely on you to explain just what I want to do in a good summary.

    @ Honey monk VSH is genetic, hygienic behavior is triggered and I saw the hygienic behavior in both splits almost immediately. It ended with the new hatched bees. And one hive was weakened and developed sack brood, later was healthy again.
    The splits I did were very strong. But I believe the queenright one had problems being suddenly in the need to free nurse bees for foraging and having not enough bees left for discovering mite infested cells. Before splitting I saw some opened cells with red eyed pupa with every check (all my hives do VSH).
    Iīm doing the splitting in the swarm season because I believe genetic diversity much more important ( even with foreign drones) than bottleneck stress breeding in autumn.

    @ moebees interesting! Whats a Taranov swarm? Sorry, still learning.

  8. #7

    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    My explanations are not very good.
    I made two parts out of one hive using 6-8 brood combs each. One was with queen and mostly capped brood at another place of the bee yard, without the foragers.
    The other was the queenless one with the same amount of brood but open, with all foragers and good brood brake while raising a new queen.

    Both did hygienic behavior but the hives with queens did it most desperately and a long time. The seemed to be out of balance too much. So I want to do smaller splits with queen like SP says, but I fear that they will be robbed.
    I had no robbing so far.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    robbing is much less of a problem when there is a good flow on. also, queenright colonies are much less bothered with robbers than queenlees colonies, especially once those queenless colonies also go broodless.

    leaving the queenless side of the split stronger with bees than the queenright side makes it more likely that the queen cells will be properly nourished, and the broodless period will allow for harvestable honey to be stored.

    if made early enough in the season, and if the flows are good, the smaller queenright split may also produce some harvestable honey.

    perhaps you have seen this:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm

    (scroll down to 'cut down split')

  10. #9
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    s
    @ moebees interesting! Whats a Taranov swarm? Sorry, still learning.
    Here is a video of one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETgWMMZr4So&t=2690s

  11. #10

    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Yes SP.
    After my experience and asking MB I read this again and I will follow my new path.
    Thanks for your comments and advise.

    Many thanks to you, moebees, for posting the link.
    This is a nice and practical method to do the split.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    i like the 'cut down split' concept. the only thing i do differently than the method described by mb is i don't leave all of the capped brood in the parent hive and move all of the open brood with the split.

    for the split, i like to find a frame full of capped brood on both sides if i can, and a frame of eggs and open brood like perhaps the frame the queen is currently laying on. those 2 frames along with the adhering bees and the queen get moved into 5 or 10 frame box, and another full frame's worth of bees are shaken in.

    the remaining frames are chosen to make sure there is ample honey, pollen, and empty cells to give the queen some room to lay. sometimes stores and brood are mixed on frames so you just do the best you can to achieve the right mix.

    i like to move the split to another yard for at least a week or two, and usually within a couple of weeks the splits that were started in a 5 frame box will need to be transferred into a 10 frame box because that frame of capped brood will have emerged.

    it's not much longer before the split will need a honey super. in my location, and if we have drones flying by late march/early april, a split like this can grow big enough by early may to produce surplus honey, especially if they don't have to draw new comb on all of the frames.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    oh, and you mark the calendar one month after making the split to check the parent hive for a mated queen.

  14. #13

    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    SP
    Are you reading my thoughts?
    Thatīs just how I want to do the splits, it seems this would be the best way in my locations.
    Yes I will check the parent hive and donate an egg comb every week if Iīm not sure like MB suggests. Not much energy spent with that.

    Now I really look forward to spring! To go for my new kind of keeping.
    Today the girls are active like in summer, orientation flights. Looked like swarming! We still have some mustard fields, I hope they are filling up their stores.

    Seeing this Iīm still amazed I kept them alive so far without treating. They are strong!
    Is treating the problem?
    Well pride comes before fall, so I humbly wait what the divine powers decide.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    They are strong!
    that's great news and very encouraging that your colonies are healthy and strong at this point in the season.

    with regard to the parent colony, it goes without saying that you must leave eggs and/or just hatched larvae so they can make a new queen. if the comb is older it's not a bad idea to 'notch' the bottom of a few cells containing eggs or just hatched larvae.

    as far as checking it on a weekly basis, in my opinion it's better not to disturb the parent colony for one month, especially if you have made sure there were eggs left in it.

    the reasons are that it is very easy to damage queen cells when removing and replacing frames, plus i think it's better not to disturb the hives during the time when the virgins are making their mating flights.

    after a month, and if all goes well, there may be brood already or possibly the just the first eggs. at the very least you may see the polishing up of cells in the middle of the nest in preparation for eggs.

    if there is no sign of a queen after one month, that is when i would add a frame of eggs and/or just hatched larva, and perhaps another one a week or so later, being very careful not to disturb any queen cells that may have been made on the first one.

  16. #15

    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior

    Oh yes, you are right with your advise!
    Thanks for mentoring me!
    I will wait the first weeks until I know to have a mated queen or not and the do my management.

    This year 3 out of 4 virgin queens at my carni apiary were lost on mating flight, that was because of the weather being unpredictable.
    No reserve queen!

    I followed the advise of MB and now they are all with mated and laying queens. One I donated a comb with capped brood after 2 months being queenless. I never thought bees could look like that, almost without any hair. But no disease!
    I did that, because I hope this queen will survive. In the first capped brood there was VSH seen and it is the blackest queen I ever saw, even darker than my AMM, which look like dark carniolans.

    I admit Iīm not one of those who combine hives quickly.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: correlation between density and defense behavior


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