Re: Treatment free at all costs - the chronicle of a beekeeper from South Germany
There may be a benefit in terms of mite resistance from using small cell, but I can't show it from my bees. They survive equally well on large or small cell combs. My bees may be mite resistant enough that small cell is not needed. That said, I still like the benefits of small cell in the spring buildup. The bees can cover more total brood area and tend to build up faster than bees on large cell combs. Combining small cell combs with narrow 32 mm frames adds up to about 20% faster spring buildup in this area. This is an advantage for the early fruit bloom flow, but it means the colonies reach swarming strength much sooner. What I am pointing out is that small cell has benefits even if there is no advantage for mite resistance. Also, that 32 mm frames may have advantages depending on local conditions.
The genetic background of my bees derive from a single queen that I caught in a swarm in 2004 that showed very good mite resistance. They survived the winter of 2004/2005 with less than 20 pounds of honey and the next spring were the strongest colony I had. The traits they displayed were strongly tilted toward the old German Black bees (A.M. Mellifera) that were present here until varroa decimated colonies in the early 1990's. They were more likely to sting, foraged in very cold conditions down to 40 degrees, overwintered with a cluster the size of a softball, and still blew away the other colonies in the spring buildup. At that time, Dann Purvis had selected bees that were highly resistant to varroa. He developed a "gold" line with traits more like Italian colonies. I purchased 10 queens from him and used them as drone source colonies with which to mate queens raised from my single mite resistant A.M.M. queen. The combination is highly mite resistant but has a significant swarming tendency.
Sibylle, I'd first like to ask a question about you. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Based on your posts, I suspect an introvert.
Does having neighbors who treat for varroa affect your bees? if so, how?
When are you coming to the U.S? I'd like to see what you think of bees on this side of the pond!
NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest