Mite monitoring in TF hives
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    Default Mite monitoring in TF hives

    I'm interested to know if any of you TF beeks monitor your mite levels, esp with an alcohol wash. My reason for asking is because I'd like to know if your success is related to low mite levels or high tolerance to mite transmitted viruses. All the mite resistant lines I'm aware of and breeding I've heard of focus on low mite levels not virus resistance. I'd really like to be TF but when I see mite levels at 15 per 100 bees I loose my courage. I want live bees to work with in spring. My plan is to introduce vsh genetics this year as well as some Spartan queens. Hope to never buy bees again if possible.

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  3. #2
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    Bergen County, NJ
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    I recommend you go through Randy Oliver (http://scientificbeekeeping.com/) articles, especially recent ones covering his mite monitoring methods in the quest to breed better bee that doesn't require (as much) treatments.

    Instead of focusing on specific types (vsh, mite biting etc), I bought couple of queen each year from a reputable TF breeder in NY. And I also made my own queens from swarm season harvesting.

    Disclaimer: I am not 100% TF.

  4. #3
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    You can certainly count if that's what you want to do. But I haven't found it useful if you really want to be treatment free.

    "And now I have another terrible confession to make. Not one as bad and un-American as passing up short-term gain and investing in the future—but still horrible: I have never yet counted even a single sample of mites from any of my bees. I consider counting mites as a way of evaluating Varroa resistance to be fraught with all sorts of shortcomings and difficulties. It's very time consuming and hence the size of the apiary, the number of colonies tested, the gene pool, and the income available all start to shrink. It's also very easy for the results to be skewed by mites migrating from other colonies or bee yards. And it doesn't show which colonies are more resistant to secondary infections--a trait I consider very important."--Kirk Webster, ABJ April 2005, pg 314

    http://kirkwebster.com/index.php/wha...-good-progress

    Sometimes things have to reach a level where the bees get motivated to do something.

    "...when 150 queens were introduced into nucs with brood untreated for 18 months. This brood had a normal outward appearance when the nucs were made up, but four weeks later about half of them were starting to decline with PMS-type symptoms. But after another three weeks, almost all of these colonies appeared normal and healthy again."—Kirk Webster
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Bakersville, NC
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Iíve been pondering counting vs not also. One friend says it will make my selections for breeding stock data based... But since I have such a small yard Iím not sure that just choosing my three best overall hives and going from there doesnít make as much sense ó and putting the time Iíd spend counting into additional nucs and hives...

    Have been reading about mite suppression vs tolerance and given what new viruses are likely to arrive in the future, suppression seems most important to me (though both are obviously needed as Webster discusses in that link ó thanks for that MB.
    -- BlueRidgeBee: dozen-ish hives & nucs, Western NC Mtns,
    Zone6, Elev. 3004ft, chem-free IPM since 2011

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    ........—Kirk Webster
    Thanks for the link!
    For the life of me, I can never find anything on Kirk Webster's site (I really do love the site and re-read it, but the design of it needs improvements).
    I DID try to find this exact article independently now - no luck.
    Can not find this article by just looking through the site.

    On topic: never counted; don't count; will not be counting...

    This whole idea of micro-management of something you don't understand is not productive.
    Some bees kill off mites totally; other bees coexist with few mites; other bees coexist with lots and lots of mites.
    And they all survive just fine.
    Many ways to skin a cat, I figure.

    The bees either live or they die - this criteria is simple and ultimate and it works.
    Just assume that mites are there and move on.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Chicago, ILL. USA
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    I feel that I've become a better beekeeper once I got serious about monitoring for mites. Now it's part of my routine, although I don't do it as often as I would like to. But I also learned that low mite counts is not everything. You have to look at the whole picture and make management decisions based on that.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    A couple of good reasons not to count.
    It is easy.
    If your hive(s) collapse you can post on Beesource asking for ideas why they failed. When asked about mites, you can honestly say that you never saw any.
    Just be sure if you post about failures you donít include any close up photos of brood comb. That way you can insist that it was anything other than mites.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  9. #8

    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcin View Post
    I feel that I've become a better beekeeper once I got serious about monitoring for mites. Now it's part of my routine, although I don't do it as often as I would like to. But I also learned that low mite counts is not everything. You have to look at the whole picture and make management decisions based on that.
    Finally an update on Kirk Webster, thanks, Michael!

    But I`m with marcin. This dream Kirk has ( I respect him very much) did not work for me personally. Despite this my experience I see the change in attitude in germany he talks about, with respect to agriculture and beekeeping.
    In years maybe I will be able to abandon monitoring if the environment has changed.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    beemandan
    A couple of good reasons not to count.
    It is easy.
    If your hive(s) collapse you can post on Beesource asking for ideas why they failed. When asked about mites, you can honestly say that you never saw any.
    Just be sure if you post about failures you donít include any close up photos of brood comb. That way you can insist that it was anything other than mites.
    You make your position pretty clear. However if you hive does not die it is also still easy. It is easy and can be done with out the forgone conclution that you have lost before you begun. If you treat and your hive dies, you can post all the pictures you want and still insist that it wasn't mites cause you treated. I wonder which post is least helpful, yours or mine.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  11. #10

    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    beemandan
    You make your position pretty clear.
    Yes. I am an advocate of knowledge. One can either operate blindly or gather information. Whether you treat or not.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    beemandan
    Yes. I am an advocate of knowledge. One can either operate blindly or gather information. Whether you treat or not.
    I am just an advocate of having bees in the back yard and getting some honey.

    I am not against useful knowlage. If you have some action you mean to take by knowing your counts, I say take counts then. If your bees are alive and you are going to breed from the ones that give you the most honey and even if you had a count it wouldn't change what you intend to do, it seems a waste of time. It doesn't make you dumb if you know what your loss rate is and can live with it and if you know how many buckets of honey you have in your basement. You may not know your counts but you may be keeping bees in a way where you don't need to know them. I don't say the guy that wants them so he can use the info is bad and don't feel bad that I know what I am getting with out them and so am not wasting time doing something that gives me no use.

    I don't denigh that some have a use for counts if they treat or if they don't. I just denigh that it is not a waste of time if you are not going to use them for some action based on having them.

    Differrent strokes for differrent folks. It depends on you objective.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  13. #12

    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    This whole idea of micro-management of something you don't understand is not productive.
    Some bees kill off mites totally; other bees coexist with few mites; other bees coexist with lots and lots of mites.
    And they all survive just fine.
    Maybe Kirks bees survive but not yours, as you posted. So I advise you to monitor why they die and try to find a better path.

    And:
    how do you know the swarms you catch to keep up your numbers want to be kept by you? Perhaps other beekeepers let their bee colonies throw swarms to create ferals in their environment?
    You keep an apiary sustained by otherīs bees, let them die, enjoy the honey from your deadouts and start all over again.
    Not my style.

  14. #13
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    I do like Kirk's points on Recurrent Mass Selection vs Vertical breeding..

    I have to oversimplify a little bit, but think of it this way: When the people who actually grow the crops select a relatively small number of plants to supply the seed from a large number of similar plants (the crop), based on the total performance and adaptability of the seed plants, and then use that seed to produce the next crop---and repeat the process year after year---a stable variety is eventually developed that is slowly but surely developing and improving the characteristics desired by the cultivators.

    In past threads I have referred to it as stock selection vs breeding.
    and its one reason I push for counts, most beekeepers aren't going to see the difrance between a 4.6% mite load in one hive and 10.7%(ish) mite load in the rest come the fall (brood off)... I know I couldn't this year when I ran them.. (A master Beekeeper such a Kirk Webster or Michael Bush may be able to see it at a glance, but I am not a master beekeeper)
    but I know what hive I want to breed from/copy how it was manged.. some of the 10.7s would likly pull threw with out TX , and then some colaspic fall 2019. I don't want breed from them, letting there line send drones is also a mistake, just being alive come spring is no were near enuff, it needs to be the best of the best

    expanding on kirks example, you select a small number of "seeds", you not going to select stock from plants that were infested with pathogens, you going to inspect the seed stock for them.

    To make progress I need a large field, I am not going to get any were with a window box, all nonslect hives are nothing more then dirt to grow the next crop of queens from, like planting a cover crop to protect/inprove the soil they get a shot of OA or other mangmnet and as such are ready to grow a fresh crop of queens come spring. I can't plant seeds if my feild is destroyed by erosion, my cats can't keep the mice under control in my seed stock storage if they are over run with immigration of mice from other fields that had no cats, and now with the harvest all those mice are starveing and coming on to my property. It would be a poor plan not to do something to stop the mice from taking out my seed stock

    Allowing non select stock to be propagated is a mistake, in the wild 80% or so of the over wintered queens are culled to just maintain the average strong selection pressure in the form of breeder queens and requeening a large part of your stock is important
    the grandfathers of bond, BWeaver and John Kefuss have taken to DNA to increase the selection pressure, I see no reason for the small time guy to use mite counts to select there's

  15. #14
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    ....Not my style.
    Can we agree not to bother each other anymore?

    I am trying, but you keep at it (personally seeking out and black-painting the others who you dislike; across the various forums, btw, not just here).

    Several people, I can see, will confirm the same.
    If this is not a persistent, targeted, and intentional trolling, I don't know what it is.

    Sorry.
    Last edited by GregV; 02-07-2018 at 11:48 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    But since I have such a small yard I’m not sure that just choosing my three best overall hives and going from there doesn’t make as much sense — and putting the time I’d spend counting into additional nucs and hives...
    John Kefuss sometimes selected a single breeder queen for the year out of a few hundred.
    strong selection pressure matters

    unless the back ground drone pop has strong TF traits you going to have to be very selective to make progress


    greg if you don't like your views challenged the TF forum may not be the best place to post,
    Like wise posting things that many would find outlandish with out a sited source... Such as you post yesterday that AMM are just as agressive as AHB, Is likely going to have people challenge you

    I am guessing I am missing some history here.... but leave it were ever it was.. going after a well liked and respected member of the TF froum is of no beneficent to any, if there is a real issue just go to your profile and set it to ingore posts, I find the best way to deal with precived trolls is not to feed them

    The gole for me when I come to this forum is to be academically challenged and to return the favor
    I don't agree with Iharder's bond program, but that doesn't mean I dislike or don't respect him, quite the opposite
    the trick here is to have a academic debate not a personal argument
    Last edited by msl; 02-07-2018 at 12:38 PM.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Can we agree not to bother each other anymore?
    OK. Sorry.

    It's my opinion as you have yours too.
    And I can post it as well as you post your opinions.
    Delete I leave SP.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    I do like Kirk's points.........
    Great post, msl, thanks.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    I think everyone is convince that they know the things to look for and breed for but yet everyone is still having to try and have only had the success they have had. I think part of the point I get when reading kirk and one other practicing treatment free (I think from germany) is that they have not decided they know exactly what the bees might use. And so all they guys that say only breed from the bees holding a small mite count, might be right or they might be missing something. I see very little differance in the process of picking your healthyest hive regaurdless of mite count as opposed to picking the one with the lowest mite count that might also be heathy. It seems to add up to the same thing IE: "healthy".

    I relize everyone is looking for the answer but also realize that even the guys looking at some bees that do better then others are still not sure of how they are doing it (except for biters and such). I am not sure that just looking at a heathy two year hive would not have a chance of being as successful as one you know the count on. It may have something to do with a count but I think what it seems webster and others are saying is that it might be other things that the bees come up with that counter pressure the bees are feeling. So it comes down to one thinking he can pick for the bee better then the bee can pick for its self. There is probly a little truth in both attitudes but no one has an answer yet and so there is no real wrong thing. In the end it really does come down to wether you are making enough of a profit (however you count) to satisfy to keep doing it as you are.

    By letting the bees show you does not mean you are not looking for anything and just letting things go, it just means you are not looking for the same thing the guy who follows some other smart persons platform. Just means what you are putting value to, might not be the same but in the end, live bees making honey is going to be the score card.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Mite monitoring in TF hives

    msl
    in the wild 80% or so of the over wintered queens are culled to just maintain the average strong selection pressure in the form of breeder queens and requeening a large part of your stock is important
    the grandfathers of bond, BWeaver and John Kefuss have taken to DNA to increase the selection pressure, I see no reason for the small time guy to use mite counts to select there's
    The one thing I see with this comment that gives me pause is the implication that after 80% die, only the best are left. If that were the case then only 20% would die the next year but 80% still die. Even if you have the best it does not mean they will always have the best babies. The good thing is that a queen breeding with 14 drones may still have enough good bees in a hive for it to put up the good fight. I am not sure it is set in granite what is exactly the right thing to look for in a bee beside health but more a reasonable path on something you know makes some differrence. It may add to the painting but may not compleetly make the masterpeice.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
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    Floyd, VA, USA
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    Default

    Interesting and informative discussion. What I was hoping is for someone to say, 'yes I monitor my hives and they often have mite levels well above recommended thresholds with no problems'. I'm wondering if that even happens or are the treatment thresholds a concrete ceiling that you must stay below to avoid colony loss. I know colonies fail but I'm thinking 3+ years with no mite treatments.

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