Really hating this weather now.... the migraines are back, but I'll try to get back to it ASAP. Bees are flying today which is nice though....
Really hating this weather now.... the migraines are back, but I'll try to get back to it ASAP. Bees are flying today which is nice though....
I'll look into it, it's about 90% under control, just took awhile today.
I'm feeling a little antsy about 2017.... Hopefully the girls have stayed high and dry, but it's been very wet and very windy. I think everyone had top weights so nothing should've blown off though.
So, 2015 was a good year, but a year of change. Kid #3 was born on March 22nd. Work had been busy, but there were rumors the wheat program was on the chopping block but until we actually heard anything official it was business as usual. Wife decided she wanted to move closer to her work and the daughters school. It was also the worst year of the so called drought over here. January was the warmest and driest I believe in history. It had basically become spring about one week in, but the bees weren't complaining.
The first order of business was repopulating the yards. I took the noble F1 split from Elk Grove to Weimar and set it up there. The fence on the other side of the yard where the Kona F2 daughter was blew over so I relocated that hive to Davis, it was a strong 2 deeps by then. This left Elk Grove with just one hive at the time, but the original Noble Apiaries queen was pretty much a full two deeps and a medium by March so I made a walk away split to get the hive count back up to two there. I also made another split and took it to the main yard in Woodland since the hive had rebounded so well from the 4-5 frames it had in December. I also made a split from the Kona F2 before moving the hive to Davis as I realized she was going into her third year and although not mite resistant was a very good queen and perhaps I could get some VSH integrated into a daughter.
2015 queen orders... I ordered an II breeder from Harbo. I also was put onto Bill Carpenter's mite maulers, I ordered 5 regular queens and a breeder quality queen. I ordered 6 queens from Old Sol, 3 Caucasian, 2 select and one standard queen. Late in the year Anarchy Apiaries was advertising queens so I ordered 5 queens there. I also ordered 2 queens from Michael Palmer from the Caspian line he had received, again, this was later in the year. I believe that was it for the year, I really wanted to focus on making daughters from what I had, especially the VP queens but time was just too short, especially with the baby.
Last edited by JRG13; 01-23-2017 at 06:35 PM.
Early Spring, around April most of the hives were looking pretty good. The only bees that seemed to be lagging were the queens from Broke-T. I can't even say they were duds, but the colonies seemed to have hit a wall around 5-6 frames of bees, and mind you they overwintered with 2-3 frames of bees and always had nice brood patterns on a few frames. They did start getting a little spotty though, but mite pressure was not overtly noticeable but I decided to give them a spring Apivar treatment just to see if it would help and it seemed to improve things somewhat. Daughter of Super Queen had inherited the same broodiness her mother had and was quickly occupying 2 deeps and a medium. By a chance inspection, I found Swarm Mama ready to hit the trees one day as well, either late March or early April... she had 17 queencells on 4 frames so I split her down 4 ways. I nuc'd her and split the cells up into 3 splits. The split that was the original hive failed to requeen so I gave them a frame of eggs and larva from their mother and they were able to successfully requeen after that. One of the splits had another case of wingless queen syndrome post mating but she's proved to be a decent queen and again, one of those ones I don't have to worry about swarming so it's a win win I guess.
The first queens to arrive for the season were the Bill Carpenter queens. Very nice looking queens, mostly Italian looking but the breeder quality queen definitely has some Carniolan blood in her or the drones she mated with. Of the 5 standard queens, 4 were introduced successfully, the 5th would've been ok, but I let her out of the cage a few days after introduction as the other 4 queens were already out and about and although she wasn't balled directly, the bees harassed her a lot and she took off flying when I checked on her a couple days later and that another $30 down the tubes.... You think you'd learn after a few years, but I guess there's always that feeling that you get, like, I know the bees are ready.... well, like I said before, just ignore that feeling, or better yet, every time you goof up, just take the amount of money that queen cost you and throw it in a jar, use it to keep things in perspective at years end....
Anyways, off to pick up the kids!
Ray - my take on this is that if you used sacrificial drone combs and pulled them about day 20 and froze them, you'll likely have much less "mite transfer" to the worker brood soon after...???
If this is combined with mite mauling bees and a full brood break, you may have no harsh mite treatment in mid-August necessary...
Any one already doing this, or close to it? I think Lauri Miller is close to this, but I do not know whether he has mite mauling bees or not...
Herein could be the key to treatment free beekeeping, the slipknot would probably be mites that go early to worker brood. An artificial brood break could turn the tide on the little bastards (mites).
JRG - I'm reading about your 2013 bees "mean, antsy, runny, drippy" - they strike me as watered-down AHB crosses. Any chance that stock survives? If so, I'd check their queen and worker emergence times. If queens emerge on day 13/14, and the workers on day 19, they're probably partly Africanized. Select for the 19 day worker brood trait (mite tolerance), and try your dang'dest to cross them with mite mauling trait.
Last edited by kilocharlie; 01-25-2017 at 06:22 PM.
Yes KC, is my plans this year to use green pierco drone frames to manage the drones. Last year was bad from all of the foundationless frames I'd had from the year before, resulting in drone comb here and there and everywhere. I've been culling those and going back to all plastic foundation again. With all plastic foundation the bees won't be apt to remake combs into drone comb as badly as they did with foundationless, and by using the green pierco frames it'll be a snap to manage the drones.
Ten years ago I was using powder sugar dusting and drone comb removal. It worked fairly well back then. I'm going to start using drone brood management again this year and see if I can greatly reduce or eliminate treating. I'm not going back to powder sugar dusting though, as it drawbacks of it's own that I do not wish to deal with here.
I will have to work in drone brood management for varroa control as well as queen rearing though, but I'm sure I can come up with a good plan for greater success of both.
I have a few F1 daughters and an F2 still KC, the fate of swarm mama will be told in 2016....
Well lets get back to it.... and for those of you wondering, I'm recounting all this from memory, I don't really take notes as there just quite frankly isn't much time to do it. Although, when I bought some hives last year, I did take some notes on them, more so to help me bring enough extra boxes for them on the next visit but I found the notes helpful except I ended up tossing them and then at the end of the season I found myself thinking those would've been good to have as reference for the final inspections...
Bill Carpenter's bees turned out to be pretty gentle, I had a little trepidation as they were coming out of Florida but they seemed to be as gentle as the rest of the bees I've gotten. I quickly identified one of the 4 remaining standard queens as being better than the rest and the breeder seemed to be doing well also. One of them ended up being superceded fairly quickly though, I made a split trying to save her but it ended up queenless. I donated a frame of eggs and larva from the best queen of the bunch and they successfully requeened themselves.
The VSH Italian X Pure VSH VP breeder looked very good as well. Very nice brood pattern. Since timed was kind of short, I ended up loaning her out to Noble Apiaries to graft some queens for me. I wanted to focus on increasing and evaluating some of the other stocks I had, but time was always short with the new baby and having to move in May. The Carni breeder was doing well also, slowly building up in spring as they didn't overwinter very strong but were looking like decent bees. The hive was very uniform in appearance and very pure carni looking which was impressive as you don't see too many pure looking hives these days.
I left the Cordovan swarm queen alone, they barely pulled through but were slowly building back up from 1-2 frames of bees. The Monsanto Swarm queen ended up building back well also. I think by mid season they were a 5x5x5. I ended up making a split off them and transferring to the new house. Damaged Mama ended up getting superceded but the bees didn't kill her, I found them as a two queen hive early in the season. Interesting enough, she had a very uniform colony appearance as well. All the bees were your basic striped Italians, all looking exactly the same so I capitalized on that. I think when picking breeders for trait integration evaluations, uniformity is a good trait to look for in a hive. Not to say just because the bees in the colony look identical, that they absolutely similar in other traits, but I think it points out she had limited mating with similar drones or perhaps just drones from a single colony. Her daughter looked just like her though so it was kind of funny when I first saw her because I was like, hey, there you are and you've healed up but then on the next frame it was like, nevermind, that was your daughter apparently... I ended up splitting the damaged queen off and she ended up getting superceded again, so I split her off again and on that third split I had to let her go when they decided to supercede as there just wasn't enough bees to make another nuc. In the end, all 3 queens looked exactly the same as their mom, just nice rootbeer reddish queens, no stripes.
Good stopping point for now, I'll add more later tonight.
Saw you complaining about headaches and have a suggestion that may help you. I used to get terrible migraine allergy related headaches too. I'd go thru two or three bottle of that pseudo epinephrin which I have to go sign for. There's a limit you can get and had to actually get someone else to go buy the over the counter meds for me or I'd get accused of manufacturing something or other.
And then I got bees. Once I was around bees, honey, and pollen I quit having headaches almost completely.
Maybe if you'd save honey from each season with the intent of using it next season to sort of boost your immunity it'd help? We tell our allergy customers that. Estimate that about 15 to 25% of my customers are using my honey like medicine. They tell me that anyway.
I eat a little bit of honey every time I get the urge and so far that's what is immunizing me to allergy headaches.
Really hope this helps you.
Internet credibility is an oxymoron
I'll may start ingesting more honey, but my migraines are typically triggered with pressure changes. I'm typically fine all year until fall usually when the winds or storms come and then it'll clear after some time and once spring hits I rarely worry about them anymore.
posting to follow.
Well done thread everyone...gosh JRG, after reading this thread I think it is possible you have experimented with a greater variety of queen bees than anyone else on the planet! Good job and please keep posting your results and experiences.
Ok, I have a question...
What are your 3 favorite queens and why are they your favorites?
BTW, that aggressive hive settled down and I just pulled 9 queen cells from the queen in the Nicot. Should have another 30-40 larvae for queens by this Saturday. Can't wait to see how they perform and I will gladly give you some queens if you like. Fastest building hive we have ever had here...best of all, mites are nearly non-existent! Who knows, she may be one of the daughters or granddaughters of one of the queens you brought over here!
One day I'll get back to this thread, time is short these days and I was having some minor but painful health issues.
Jut re-read the thread, and it seems to me a couple of things pop out.
First, that food resources seem to have a large effect. The colonies that had good feed also resisted mites better. Not surprising if true. Do you see that?
Then, that some colonies had periods where they showed a lot of mites but rebounded and survived in spite of it.
I am a real neophyte, so 99% of what I know is from reading, not experience. I am wondering if counting mites is only useful for researchers, and not so much for people trying to produce mite-resistant colonies. If a colony has a high mite count on one inspection, but still survives, did it really need treatment? Maybe a zero mite count isn't what we should be looking for, but colonies that deal with the mites and survive anyway.
Virus resistance is different from mite resistance, so a colony could have mites but not be susceptible to a virus, and tolerate higher mite loads. Another colony might fight mites directly, and survive that way by keeping mite count low. Just measuring mite count might be missing some valuable traits.
If we treat every colony with high mite loads, we'll slow progress. Honey producers and pollinators need to treat, obviously, because those bees are cattle, and need to meet production goals to be worth the expense of keeping. But if you step back and are trying to produce tolerant/resistant stock, it seems to me that treating will slow your progress.
Not arguing for hard-core hard bond here. Cali is a tough environment for TF, and it would be hard to have enough survivors to keep going with all the drones from treated hives swamping you every year. I find your posts very interesting and look forward to new installments. Hope you are feeling better soon.
"If we treat every colony with high mite loads"...in my area (bee dense, lots of medicated pollination bees) ALL bees have high mite loads. It is not a function of fitness but of overwhelming infestation. And if the high loads are not dealt with, the colonies weaken, are unproductive, and die.
The answer for Varroa will not, IMHO, come from backyard/small holding survivor beeyards, and if you are running a survivor beeyard in the flight range of other beekeepers, you are spreading, not remediating, the Varroa grief.
I understand that we want to get past the Varroa impact, but I would like new beekeepers to keep bees "plain vanilla style" for a few years so they see what a really healthy colony looks like through the year. After that they can experiment, out of the flight range of other beekeepers, and they have a yardstick to compare their experimental results to.
It is possible, maybe probable, that the bee genome is not flexible enough to withstand Varroa pressure.
I haven't really sampled mite numbers yet, I just look at the impact they have on the hives throughout the year. I have yet to see any hives capable of withstanding even moderate levels of mites here. What I do see if as the genetics have shifted towards more VSH, these hive simply crash later in the year than the really susceptible hives. I did have a swarm last year that looked promising but ended up superceding later in the year then had queen issues during our periods of long rains, high winds, with limited flight days inbetween. They stayed strong all year but I could tell the mites were increasing in fall and the brood pattern started to deteriorate but the hive did not crash and were looking pretty good until I found them queenless a few weeks ago with just a handful of bees where in the previous inspection there were still about 16 frames of bees..... I figured the late mated queen failed or they superceded due to high mite pressure doing one of the stormy periods and the virgin disappeared at some point.
For the kind of carnage involved in survivor bee programs to be worth it (and worth the substantial genetic bottleneck involved), the bees at the other end must be not just kinda resistant, but Varroa-proof. They must be so good with the Varroa that we can drop treatment frequency if not treatments altogether. And the situation I often encounter when visiting treatment free yards, where in exchange for enduring Varroa loads the beekeeper accepts reduced colony size, vigour, health and productivity is also not an acceptable trade-off.
The usual rebuttal is that these situations indicate we are making progress toward that truly Varroa-proof bee. I am not so sure. Given the long standing lack of progress toward the end goal, I wonder if we have pushed the bee genome as far as it can go on this road (which unfortunately is not far enough). I am encouraged by the fact that Varroa are now being cultured in a couple of USA labs, so research into the Varroa life cycle and genome can now proceed more rapidly. It should be easier to short-circuit the Varroa than to produce a widely available super bee.