I wanted to post more last night, but with these rapidly changing storm fronts it's triggered my migraines to come on. I thought I had avoided them for the year....
I wanted to post more last night, but with these rapidly changing storm fronts it's triggered my migraines to come on. I thought I had avoided them for the year....
Nordak and JRG13
I would say that evicting all the drones might have been from time of year, it starts first of summer here as the dearth starts and the queen starts slowing down, drastically in some hives, especially swarm mama daughters. Also, that could be a reason of eviction, the bees performing mite control. Evict the drones and shut down brooding after the main spring flows. I find that at that time the mites then hit the worker brood pretty hard. My thinking at the moment is that all the drone brood helps keep the varroa out of the worker brood throughout the spring. But then the summer solstice happens, dearth starts, queen shuts down or drastically slows down, drones get evicted and drone comb gets backfilled, so worker brood is where all the increase, percentage wise to brood, all the mites go. This becomes a critical time in my area to check for mites and treat if needed. Usually it's needed badly by the end of June or first of July. I may try doing some shook swarm splits at that time and see if it helps with mite control any at all.
Yes, it may be good in the spring, but when the hive starts backfilling the drone cells and drones die off or leave or get booted, it sure does cause a large heavy hit on the worker brood. Treatments or splits or splits with treatments in timing with this can be very beneficial to controlling mite numbers in summer, I'm betting. In my area I'm noticing this starting around middle of June, perhaps due to solstice and lack of enough good forage.
Season 5. TF.
Thank you guys. Hope the migrains go away so I can continue reading soon hahah
Yeah, I'm hoping they taper off now. Last night was rough, woke up about 1.5 hours after falling asleep due to the pain, pills did nothing, tossed and turned, moved to the couch to recline, tossed my cookies as the pain was nauseating me, finally fell back asleep about 6am, kids woke me up at 6:45....
Ok, back to 2014, first splits on the ground, bees building up nicely, started evaluating queens. I tend to overwinter in nucs when I can as well, especially with our mild winters, which aren't severely mild, we just don't get a lot of snow, but we can get periods of relatively cold days and nights and extended periods of rain December - March so you still need to have your hives winter ready, but it also means a frame of bees can successfully overwinter if you keep them dry and they have enough stores. The WSU queens overwintered well, they didn't need any help come spring and overwintered with a nice viable cluster of bees in their nucs and had put up enough stores in fall to not have to baby them. Both queens had good brood patterns and stores and the bees were gentle, the Italian line was a little farther along then the Carniolan. The Kona daughter queens all looked quite well, only had 3 left at this point. The F2 from the original supercedure and two F1's from the hive in Woodland that was a pretty good mother colony. One queen had chewed wings prior to mating, didn't need a nick name for her obviously and had no worries of her swarming off any time soon. I had to boost this one with a frame of brood though, but they built up nicely. The other colony I nicknamed 'Super Queen'. Didn't overwinter much better than her sister, but I did not boost them with a frame of brood and bees. This queen was the first to fill out her nuc in 2014, even faster than the WSU queens which had 2-3 frames of bees when spring started. Queen from Ray Marler's stock needed a frame of brood and bees as well after initial pollen sub as her cluster size wasn't viable. Queen was heavy on the Carni side and it showed during fall when they capped 4 frames of honey in the nuc and pretty much wound down from there but mite pressure took it's toll in winter but they put up the most honey for the size of colony at the time. Colony took well to the frame of brood and built up nicely as spring advanced though.
Hives in Elk Grove were doing well. I had the F2 Kona daughter there and Honey-4-All's queen, both of which were packing in stores. I ended up having to go 5x5x5 for the kona queen and eventually put them in a double deep and a medium. Had them set up on a Country Rubes bottom board, and the mite drop was pretty high it seemed but they didn't seem to suffer much from it. It seemed to taper off eventually though and I doused them once with Oxalic in spring, both hives at that location. I also made a split from the queen sourced from Honey-4-All and put it next to the parent colony.
The original split I had at the house in West Sac ended up looking very nice. Honey-4-All or Noble Apiaries has some nice queens, productive and easy to work. I ended moving it as a 5X5 to Weimar to replace the bees there and I ended up semi-checker boarding it into a double deep with some drawn comb in the bottom box as it was a pretty strong hive at the time with a lot of capped brood ready to emerge and a very nice looking queen.
Started getting queens from orders in May, pretty sure I got 4 queens from Broke-T on May 3rd, just before Cinco de Mayo. Got them all nuc'd up the next day, one nuc was queenless already and after a couple days I made the brilliant decision to just release the queen as the bees seemed amenable to accepting her... Here's a pro tip for everyone... just let the bees release the queen, no need to rush an introduction.... anyways, what was I saying, after introducing the 3 queens I got from Broke-T the queens were out laying and looked good in general, even had green dots for free. The 'other' nuc got a frame from superqueen so they could make their own queen and they successfully performed that feat.
Next I got two Cordovan queens from Pine Ridge Farms, introduced them successfully, they looked very good as well. I believe they were Latshaw Aurea daughters mated in his carniolan yard. I then received a breeder from Lauri Miller which was introduced successfully. She also sent me 4-5 virgins no cost, but the post office, even though it was clearly instructed to hold for pick up, decided to deliver them on a 103 degree day, and we have those communal boxes that sit on the side of the street. Well, I got home early to check the mail as I hadn't heard anything, but got to cooking dinner instead and about 90 minutes had passed before I remembered. The breeder turned out to be ok as well as one virgin. I think two were DOA and 1-2 were still alive but all the attendants were dead and the queens weren't looking too good but were moving around. The virgins were some of the biggest queens I've seen though and I must give Kudos to Lauri, she raises some quality queens but you don't need me to tell you that. I tried to intro the healthy virgin but it didn't work out, well maybe it did, the whole nuc absconded, I presume with the virgin but I can't say for certain.
The last queens I received for the year were three breeders from VP Queens. I had planned on just overwintering them for the year and got them at the tail end of the season. I ordered a Pol-Line, Italian X Pure VsH, and his Carniolan. It was still pretty hot for being so late in the year and the nuc's got stressed. Luckily two of the queens made it though, but of course the Pol-Line was dead in the cage the very next day, so now I was 0-2 on Pol-Lines, but although it was another gut wrencher to find that queen dead, I was glad at least the other 2 made it. I think some of it was a combination of making late splits and leaving them in the yard and I used some of the WSU bees for the splits and they seemed to beard more than the rest of the bees I had on the real hot days, so basically a bulk of the bees were bearding on the nuc's and not very many bees were actually inside caring for the brood and queens. Lesson was learned though, I typically move all splits from the parent yards now and if it's more into summer time, I use a shaded location to transfer them too and it seems to alleviate a lot of the stress on making splits in hot weather.
I also made a few more splits due to supercedures and colony reduction on swarm mama. Ray Marler's queen ended up getting superceded mid summer. She was in a packed 5x5 and I found a queen cell on the bottom of the frame, but I was kind of in denial mode, so I tore it down. Checked a week later, found two cells, so I did a three way split. I artificially swarmed the queen with a frame of brood and a shake from a frame of bees into a nuc, and added 4 pf100's. I then split the two nuc boxes, each with a cell and brood and put them on their own bottom boards and left the queen in the original location to pick up the foragers. All the splits were successful, except the queen got superceded a few weeks alter with a large cell, that turned out to be a dud. I eventually got them queenright with a frame of eggs/larvae from the WSU Italian queen.
Last edited by JRG13; 01-16-2017 at 08:11 PM.
Didn't you have some lauri Miller queens in the mix?
Yeah, sorry, I submitted the post to take a break, I'm currently editing it to add on
Ok, back to it....
Swarm Mama started to build up well again and to keep her colony size down I performed two walk away splits. Both drew queen cells and hatched virgins. One ended up being a really small queen, so I pinched her and introduced a queencell in a roller cage. I plugged the top of the cage with wax but these bees really don't like foreign queens so they chewed threw it and destroyed the cell. I gave them some brood and bees from one of the WSU queens and they started to draw out cells but tore them down a few days after capping... Around the same time I found the September 1st swarm I collected in 2013 superceding with a few nice cells, as a last ditch effort I cut one of the cells out and placed it into the nuc and they finally accepted a new queen. A nice virgin emerged but she was damaged at the end of abdomen on her mating flight, had a big dent in it but she started to lay and was able to get the nuc through winter even though it was late in the year and she didn't have much to work with, she became known as 'damaged mama'.
I believe that was about all queens and splits done for the year. I was still formulating my mite plan though and still wanting to screen for resistance so treatments were again on hold but as it was getting towards fall it was getting obvious something would need to be done. So lets tally it up by location and I'll add some details I left out, but for all instances we're at about August 2014...
Weimar - Noble Apiaries F1 Queen from West sac... after placing the hive I came back about 4 weeks later and to much disappointment hadn't done much. Found them queenless with some capped brood still emerging and laying worker started. I brought in a split, donated 1 frame of eggs and larva to this hive and also placed the split there... both hives drew queencells and had virgins emerge. The split was successful, the main hive, the virgin never got mated, was still running around as a virgin in October, still had a little bit LW, left hive to dwindle. The nuc hadn't done much either, it did not survive winter as well.
Elk Grove - Noble Apiaries Queen - 2 deeps, 3 mediums, mites apparent, slight DWV
F2 Kona Queen - 2 deeps, 2 mediums, high mite drop, brood becoming spotty, slight DWV
Noble F1 split, 2 deeps, mites noticeable, slight DWV
Davis - F1 Cordovan Queen, first queen of 2014, 2 deeps and a medium, mild PMS setting in
West Sacramento - Lauri Miller Breeder Queen, looked good, some mites, no symptoms of PMS
Woodland (auxillary yard) - Carni Breeder, looked good, got Apivar but mite levels not noticeable
Woodland (main yard)- WSU Italian: 5x5, took multiple splits, looking good - mites building up, slight PMS symptoms
WSU Carniolan: 5X5, took multiple splits, looking good, mites noticeable
Broke-T queens: All 3 looked similar, transferred all to single 10 frame equipment with internal feeders, 6-7 frames of bees, 3-4 frames brood, looked decent, some phoretic mites, no PMS
Cordovan Swarm Queen: 2 Deeps, 2 mediums - 2 splits taken, PMS starting to be apparent, mites noticeable
Kona F2-F3: Sister to Elk Grove Kona F2, superceded in summer, 2 deeps
September Swarm 2013 queen: Superceded, 2 deeps, Apivar in, new queen looks good
Monsanto Swarm Queen: 2 Deeps, 2 splits taken, mites noticeable, PMS apparent
Swarm Mama: 2 deeps, Apivar early as mites were becoming apparent
VP Italian X Pure VSH: 5X5 with 4 frames of bees in the top box, Apivar, no mite issues but was recent split
Super queen F1 - single deep, looked good, Apivar
Super Queen - 2 deeps, PMS apparent, colony was collapsing, Apivar
No wing Kona F1 - single deep, slight-moderate PMS present, 1 split taken
Ray Marler F1 - Italian looking, 5X5 look good
Ray Marler F1 - Carni looking, single deep, look good
WSU Italian F1 - Nuc, look good, 3-4 frames of bees, looks good, large queen
Swarm Mama F1 - New queen superceded, nuc dwindled in fall as it was no longer viable
Damaged Mama - Sister to September F1 queen, they look identical except the dent, reddish/rootbeer colored Italian, no stripes, 2 frames of bees, Apivar in as insurance
Pine Ridge Queens - 1 queen remained, looked decent, 4-5 frames of bees in the nuc, the other queen had absconded in late summer
That puts us as 26 colonies from 12 hives from spring, a lot of which were nucs, I excluded the hives in Weimar from that count, so it would actually be 28 colonies was the high from 12. When I noted splits taken, that just means they donated 2-3 frames for a split at some point during the season, I did not list them all but where I remember taking splits from them, I made the note so you can get a sense of why some started as nucs but are still 5X5. That about sums up early fall, next we'll get to September when the losses really start rolling in from the mites....
Varroa ended up being bad as usual in the late fall of 2014. The Monsanto swarm queen ended up succumbing first. I basically found them getting robbed out, and they were down to a few hundred bees and the queen. I re-hived them into a 5 frame nuc and reduced the entrance down to stop the robbing. They ended up surviving and I had to donate a frame of brood and bees to them before winter set in. Next in line was the Cordovan swam queen. I gave them 3 rounds of oxalic, but the PMS was severe by late September and they ended up collapsing down to about a frame of bees from two deeps and a medium that were fully occupied. Even after the 3 treatments, mites were still readily visible and the PMS was reduced but still noticeable so they got a strip of Apivar to do a final knockdown. Fortunately, they made it as well as 2014 was a very mild winter and January 2015 was I believe a record setting warm although December was typical and we got a few weeks of frost around Christmas time. The hive in Davis was the next victim, I just didn't have time to get a mite treatment in early fall, but I knew PMS was setting in when I checked them last, but they succumbed rather quickly. Although I liked the Cordovan line as they were decent bees, they were obviously very susceptible to mites in both mother and daughter. Super Queen was the next victim as well as her sister, wingless. The Kona lines proved to be decent bees as well, but also seriously lacking in any type of tolerance let alone resistance. All the Broke-T queens remained untreated but shrank down to about 3 frames of bees each, but had good stores. The last queen in Woodland to fail was the WSU Italian, the colony was alive come spring which pretty much started in January, but they were queenless and down to just a small cluster. The Carniolan lined proved a little better but had reduced down to about 2 frames of bees and received apivar as well.
Elk Grove faired a little better, but the colonies still took a big hit and got a late round of Apivar to get them through. When I checked them mid December, Original Noble Apiaries queen was down to about 4 frames of bees, the split was slightly better around 5 frames and the original F2 Kona queen was about 6 frames as well. Apivar seemed to do the trick though and all the hives rebounded and took advantage of the warm January. So, now that look back, 2014 wasn't too bad loss wise, but we hit a high of about 28 hives, down to 22 after mite kill with 3 very weak hives that would only be rebuilding all of 2015 and the rest of the hives collapsing down to 3-5 frames of bees with late season Apivar getting them into 2015.....
Reflections on 2014...
Although it wasn't a bad year, it was still discouraging at the end to see the bees collapsing down. It was fairly obvious what the problem was, but I still had that notion to screen for resistance, heck, I was starting to settle for maybe a little tolerance and you could see that in some of the bees but it was still hard to compare due to location. The bees in Elk Grove get a nice flow most of the year, build up and put up 3-4 supers of honey, where as Woodland, you might get a medium super off a double deep in summer if you're lucky, other than that, some of the nuc's could surprise you or even a 5X5 could cape 6-7 frames depending on the bees, especially the lines that seemed more frugal like the WSU Carni or the darker queens from Ray Marler, but they also tend to naturally shrink the fall cluster as well.
Another thing that opened my eyes a little is spending about half a day listening to Keith Jarret. He invited me to come up and grab some sub in the fall, even bought me lunch, he talked I listened for the most part. I have to give Kudos to Keith, he has his game plan down and he sticks to it. He realizes the value of strong colonies and the ROI each one is capable of and manages his bees as such. He showed me his stack of duds... about 5-6 singles stacked on top of each other, with a special innercover that acted as top of one hive and bottom for the one above it, the entrances alternating each one to face different directions then the one above or below it. Pretty good way to take advantage of the hives insulating each other. Of course he cracked a few, and they had rebounded quite well from when they were culled out months prior and were all just packed with bees. I'd like to spend a little more time talking to Keith this year if he gets some time too, but he helped consolidate my plan and strategy on what else to look for in colonies besides the basic and mite resistance.
Another thing I really started contemplating on was when to actually start screening for mites. As for now, my populations were small, but diverse but it really doesn't make much sense to screen such a small population. It's really more useful to keep your bees healthy until you have the resources to really make some splits and grafts from each queen line to be evaluated in some quantity. That being said, 2015 turned out alright until the tail end of the year when I had to move everything but I will cover that in a bit.
Enjoying this thread. Reads like a Clancy novel.
I can add some guns and intrigue if you want!
Great posting JRG13.
Thanks for writing in this way so itīs possible for me to understand what you do.
Very entertaining too.
I am going grab a seat before it completely fills up ... Great posts... It sounds familiar to what I am going through this winter on some of my colonies.