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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    We cannot just assume "if they survive they are fine" is the lesson I learned from my own.

    Very true and to the point I Have bee hitting on lately, just because they survived doesn't mean they are breeding stock... Imagine the results if they had been split hard so the mite issue is deferred till next year (or more splits in 2019 and deferred till 2020) then suddenly. a whole yard of problems...

    Mike I would like to commend you for posting this thread and not taking the "I will wait and see if they make it, maby they have some special tolerance to high mite levels" attitude of the past.

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  3. #42

    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    Very true and to the point I Have bee hitting on lately, just because they survived doesn't mean they are breeding stock... Imagine the results if they had been split hard so the mite issue is deferred till next year (or more splits in 2019 and deferred till 2020) then suddenly. a whole yard of problems...
    Yes, thatīs true.
    As long as you are expanding to higher colony numbers itīs hard to evaluate the stock for breeding.

    Itīs good to even out the colonies strengh by splitting all in the same way.
    Next spring you will see a difference, but not always, because much depends on the queen`s mating. Itīs not all about mites but you need experience to find out.

    The surviving queens with the strongest colony going into spring is best to breed from.
    Even better if she survived two winters and still is strong in spring.

    If numbers of colony allow breeding this should be done by using the best descendants and treat the others or use them for honey production ( non chemical or other).

    In my case only this queens have brood and bee numbers enough to multiply so this problem eliminates itself.

    The dinks will get a new queen in summer.

  4. #43
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    I have concentrated with queen rearing with 2 winter survivors with help from promising 1 winter survivors. This winter I get to raise queens from only strong 2 winter survivors. Good thing as it seems I'm a poor judge of what's promising. I am a bit thrilled to place queen cells from not only a strong 2 winter survivor but a good producer today. She really didn't stand out until later in the season last summer as an overwintered nuc. Some bees, like some hockey players are all flash, but don't produce so well. I have 3 winter survivors that are ok that have never been split and a 4 winter survivor that was strong until this spring. I am spatially concentrated with 2 bee sites close by for the first time. This is where my queen mating flights will take place this year.

    I view the preemptive euthanization as not harmful (actually could be if not completely obvious), but hardly necessary to the system. Nobody is doing mite washes on feral bees. Its why bond is ultimately a stable and simple system that anyone can follow. If somebody wants to do mite counts and make decisions on them, go for it. Maybe even profits can be improved if one can take all the honey. Maybe in some totally dysfunctional systems its useful. But it isn't a central idea in fixing system dysfunction (ie. the lack of regulation). I will be doing mite washes and brood assessments later this year and going forward doing some selection based on this. But this is market driven really as we don't really know optimal parameters for healthy systems that produce honey.
    Last edited by lharder; 05-25-2018 at 08:35 AM.

  5. #44

    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Leroy,
    are your survivors surviving colonies or long lived queens?
    I have 2 year surviving queens and 4 years surviving colonies.

    And yes, total control of mites is not possible. You can monitor all you want, ( treat all you want too), fall can change everything, neighbor beekeepers coming back from migration with infested hives, your own bees stressed because of different parameters. So itīs bond test over winter for all.

  6. #45
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    The surviving queens with the strongest colony going into spring is best to breed from.
    Even better if she survived two winters and still is strong in spring.
    The math does not bear this out. Again, everything is climate dependant, so I'm using the examples of our climate where the bees start to brood up around Feb 15, then start brooding down between Aug 15 and Sept 15, some variation colony to colony. But we have to work with overall averages, every colony will have some variation from average. I was watching a presentation by Jamie Ellis earlier this year on youtube, and he made a reference I found fascinating. His comment was 'A queen bee will lay half a million eggs in her lifetime'. I was curious, is that an 'off the cuff' comment to imply a LOT of eggs, or, is it a measured result taken from literature, so I emailed him to ask, expecting to get a response in a week or two if I was lucky, was about 9am here when I did that. By 930 the response was in my inbox, and said it's a number from literature, not an off the cuff comment. So I added another tidbit to my model to count eggs laid by a given queen.

    So now take the example of a 3 frame split made on June 1 with a fresh queen, which grows out to a full size brood nest at a queen egg rate of aproximately 1500 eggs a day, ie, a 'good queen'. By the time that colony heads into winter it'll have approximately 30,000 bees in the winter cluster and the queen laid 160,000 eggs, so we are putting a box with 10 frames of bees to bed in October. The following season, start of brooding around Feb 15 with a cluster that still covers 5 frames (typical around here), colony can reach honey gathering strength around April 15, full strength by June 1, and will head into winter again as approximately 10 frames of bees, queen lays 320,000 eggs in the process.

    So, in spring number 2 for that queen, she's already put 480,000 eggs into cells. This may be the best genetics in the apiary, but, the queen is approaching 'used up', and likely wont produce a stellar brood nest in the early spring of year 3.

    These numbers bear out in my experience. I have my 'number 1' breeder for this season. The history for her goes like this. She was open mated in our yard in June of 2016, placed in a colony during July then went up to our fireweed yard. That colony produced a stellar honey crop in the fireweed yard. For 2017 she spent the entire season in the home yard, and again that colony produced a stellar honey crop thru the spring flow. In August of last year I moved her out of the colony during late season requeening, put her in a 5 frame nuc. This spring, it did ok, but, it's currently in a 5 over 5 configuration, and they are not up to swarming strength. Conversly, on another stand I have a colony headed by her daughter. Daughter was open mated in this yard in a mating nuc in July last year, placed in the colony early August in time to build up the winter brood nest. This spring that colony looked absolutely dismal on the first round of opening lids and putting on spring patties, they only had bees in 3 seams on Feb 12. They wintered in a medium over deep configuration, so that was bees on 3 medium frames, what we consider a poor spring cluster on the verge of being a write-off. On the April 15 inspection they had bees in 11 seams. Our flow started on April 18 based on data from my scale hive. On April 22 they got a honey super over the excluder, by April 29 had bees in 18 seams. May 5 they got two more supers and on May 13 there were bees in 50 seams. On May 16 I dug down to the bottom box to find a frame of larvae for grafting, counted bees in 55 seams. Today, they have 5 supers on, 4 of them are being capped and bees fill every seam in every box, plus they have a pollen trap in place.

    Our methodology here is designed for consistency. I have inspection sheets that come out to the yard on a clipboard every time we open colonies. Any time I look into boxes, we start by counting seams of bees then record the numbers. We track when supers go on, and weigh them coming off. What we have learned from doing it this way, once you get into the rhythm of keeping the records, it's not much of a burden. Write down how many seams of bees, and when we do dig deeper into the colonies, write down a count of frames with brood and those with pollen. There is a tick box to be ticked off if the colony stung me, another for 'saw queen, and another for if she was marked so we know she has not been superceeded.

    Consistent records is a concept I took from a presentation by Michael Palmer and how he used them last year. What we have learned from the exercise, it's amazing how much our memory fools us at times, but recorded data holds the true story. When we did our first hive check this spring, one of them looked spectacular, bees on all 10 frames in the top box, my wife commented as we put in the first patty, I know who gets to be the queen mother this year, I agreed with her. On April 15 they had bees in 14 seams and were barely touching the honey super by May 13. They looked fabulous in February, by never really took off. Looking back to the history, they were requeened last May and thru last year were a little below average all season but went into winter with a good size cluster and good stores. The point is, that first spring inspection really left an impression, and if we didn't have recorded numbers, we would be very biased thinking that was one of our best colonies, and the afore mentioned stellar colony would not be considered 'best'. Our memory fools us constantly on such things, see one spectacular thing and forever forward you suffer 'observational bias' toward that colony.

    My criteria for choosing where I graft from is fairly basic, and comes entirely from the records. A colony that meets a few conditions gets chosen. It must have produced a stellar crop of honey on either the spring or fireweed flow. Never been stung during an inspection, and never made swarm cells. From our perspective, everything else is 'just noise', these are the only criteria that matter to us. Bees that don't attack us are nice. Bees that dont make a good honey crop have no value to us, and swarmy bees have little value. I really like the colony that is capping in 4 supers, bees in 6 boxes and have not made any swarm cells. If I could have 2 dozen colonies like that we'll have a more productive apiary than somebody with 50 colonies of bees that attack you when opening hives and swarm every spring. This is my long term goal, bees that dont swarm, do make honey, and dont attack us when we are working in the back lot tending garlic and vegetable patches where the hives are sitting. Still working on ridding us of a couple lines that go into attack mode when my wife is planting her tomatoes in the vegetable patches in front of the hive stands. 4 stands have hives that dont attack, one has hives that come out with a vengeance, but they get new queens in a couple weeks once the cells in the mating nucs are mated and laying.

  7. #46
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    good thread, thanks for sharing mike and thanks to the other contributors for participating.

    i was wondering how you accomplished the euthanization, freezing?
    Shake into a 5 gallon bucket of soapy water, then freeze the mostly empty combs in a nuc box. They very quickly caught on to my plan and let me know they were unhappy with it.

  8. #47
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    They very quickly caught on to my plan and let me know they were unhappy with it.
    that made me laugh but i know it's not funny. were there many escapees?

    so far winter has been an effective euthanizer for me. i think i've already mentioned the one varroa collapse last year that happened in the fall and bombed my outyard.

    the plan is to get robber screens installed at the outyards and be more preemptive if it comes to that again.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #48
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post

    I view the preemptive euthanization as not harmful (actually could be if not completely obvious), but hardly necessary to the system. Nobody is doing mite washes on feral bees. Its why bond is ultimately a stable and simple system that anyone can follow.
    I agree with everything in your post, and am an "Evolutionist" myself... I believe strongly that we (beekeepers and humans in general) are holding back progress by keeping sick bees alive and not allowing weak bees to die.

    That being said, I could not ethically stand by and watch my hive with 10 combs of honey in it, protected by 2 combs of bees, wither and get robbed. When I did the mite count, it was still full of drones and capped drone brood, and obviously had thousands of virulent mites in it (likely more mites than bees). I felt robbing must only be days away.

    I have 3 happy and healthy hives in my yard, and uncounted feral bees in the woods around my house. My best hive this year is last year's puny swarm, and a swarm I caught this year is just gigantic and powerful.

    I felt sure these bees would die one way or the other, and based on their 2.5 year record I decided I no longer wanted their genetics. I had to euthanize them in a way which protected the bees in the yard and the others in the trees. Allowing "nature to take its course" wasn't fast or safe enough for me; I felt I had to help her along in this case.

  10. #49
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    that made me laugh but i know it's not funny. were there many escapees?
    the hive was still trying to function. I closed up the entrance, and the following morning there was a softball sized cluster of returned foragers trying to get into the closed hive. That day it rained hard all day, and they were gone next time I checked.

    It is ok to laugh. Next time I do this, I'm double-gloving.

  11. #50
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)



    i think it would have been a 'cleaner' kill if you would have left the hive open perhaps with just a frame or two inside and dispatched the returning bees the next day.

    i agree with the case you laid out in your response to lharder, and i think your actions demonstrate a respectable degree of responsibility so far as taking appropriate steps to not let the treatment free approach put other nearby colonies at risk.

    good job mike.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #51
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    perhaps drenching them with sugar water first so they couldn't fly?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #52
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    I agree with everything in your post, and am an "Evolutionist" myself... I believe strongly that we (beekeepers and humans in general) are holding back progress by keeping sick bees alive and not allowing weak bees to die.

    That being said, I could not ethically stand by and watch my hive with 10 combs of honey in it, protected by 2 combs of bees, wither and get robbed. When I did the mite count, it was still full of drones and capped drone brood, and obviously had thousands of virulent mites in it (likely more mites than bees). I felt robbing must only be days away.

    I have 3 happy and healthy hives in my yard, and uncounted feral bees in the woods around my house. My best hive this year is last year's puny swarm, and a swarm I caught this year is just gigantic and powerful.

    I felt sure these bees would die one way or the other, and based on their 2.5 year record I decided I no longer wanted their genetics. I had to euthanize them in a way which protected the bees in the yard and the others in the trees. Allowing "nature to take its course" wasn't fast or safe enough for me; I felt I had to help her along in this case.
    I have no issue with what you did. But if you didn't notice for some reason, it wouldn't have been the end of the world. Maybe you would have occurred more losses, but the lemonade from that scenario is some tough bees. I understand with 4 hives why you wouldn't do so, but strong occasional selection pressure does serve a regulatory purpose in systems in general.

    Ontario beekeepers recently reported large losses coming out of winter. But the bees that survived and did well in that situation will probably not be systematically propagated on a large scale. Spring splits will probably be done with imported unselected queens setting themselves up for the same scenario. The already occurred the losses, the trouble is not seeing the opportunity in that situation.

  14. #53
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    Ontario beekeepers recently reported large losses coming out of winter. But the bees that survived and did well in that situation will probably not be systematically propagated on a large scale. Spring splits will probably be done with imported unselected queens setting themselves up for the same scenario. The already occurred the losses, the trouble is not seeing the opportunity in that situation.
    are there no voices campaigning for the alternative?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #54
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    are there no voices campaigning for the alternative?
    I'm across the country so I can't say. But this is typical beekeeper practice. Around here anyway.

  16. #55
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Leroy,
    are your survivors surviving colonies or long lived queens?
    I have 2 year surviving queens and 4 years surviving colonies.

    And yes, total control of mites is not possible. You can monitor all you want, ( treat all you want too), fall can change everything, neighbor beekeepers coming back from migration with infested hives, your own bees stressed because of different parameters. So itīs bond test over winter for all.
    I don't know how long the queens last but the longest living hives I'm guessing have been superceded at least once. But I like bees that know how to supercede and not go into winter with a queen at the end of her life. So if I have a long standing productive hive, then I'm assuming they know how to keep things doing. I'm supposed to start marking queens this year so wish me luck in not squishing them.

  17. #56
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    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    The math does not bear this out. Again, everything is climate dependant, so I'm using the examples of our climate where the bees start to brood up around Feb 15, then start brooding down between Aug 15 and Sept 15, some variation colony to colony. But we have to work with overall averages, every colony will have some variation from average. I was watching a presentation by Jamie Ellis earlier this year on youtube, and he made a reference I found fascinating. His comment was 'A queen bee will lay half a million eggs in her lifetime'. I was curious, is that an 'off the cuff' comment to imply a LOT of eggs, or, is it a measured result taken from literature, so I emailed him to ask, expecting to get a response in a week or two if I was lucky, was about 9am here when I did that. By 930 the response was in my inbox, and said it's a number from literature, not an off the cuff comment. So I added another tidbit to my model to count eggs laid by a given queen.

    So now take the example of a 3 frame split made on June 1 with a fresh queen, which grows out to a full size brood nest at a queen egg rate of aproximately 1500 eggs a day, ie, a 'good queen'. By the time that colony heads into winter it'll have approximately 30,000 bees in the winter cluster and the queen laid 160,000 eggs, so we are putting a box with 10 frames of bees to bed in October. The following season, start of brooding around Feb 15 with a cluster that still covers 5 frames (typical around here), colony can reach honey gathering strength around April 15, full strength by June 1, and will head into winter again as approximately 10 frames of bees, queen lays 320,000 eggs in the process.

    So, in spring number 2 for that queen, she's already put 480,000 eggs into cells. This may be the best genetics in the apiary, but, the queen is approaching 'used up', and likely wont produce a stellar brood nest in the early spring of year 3.

    These numbers bear out in my experience. I have my 'number 1' breeder for this season. The history for her goes like this. She was open mated in our yard in June of 2016, placed in a colony during July then went up to our fireweed yard. That colony produced a stellar honey crop in the fireweed yard. For 2017 she spent the entire season in the home yard, and again that colony produced a stellar honey crop thru the spring flow. In August of last year I moved her out of the colony during late season requeening, put her in a 5 frame nuc. This spring, it did ok, but, it's currently in a 5 over 5 configuration, and they are not up to swarming strength. Conversly, on another stand I have a colony headed by her daughter. Daughter was open mated in this yard in a mating nuc in July last year, placed in the colony early August in time to build up the winter brood nest. This spring that colony looked absolutely dismal on the first round of opening lids and putting on spring patties, they only had bees in 3 seams on Feb 12. They wintered in a medium over deep configuration, so that was bees on 3 medium frames, what we consider a poor spring cluster on the verge of being a write-off. On the April 15 inspection they had bees in 11 seams. Our flow started on April 18 based on data from my scale hive. On April 22 they got a honey super over the excluder, by April 29 had bees in 18 seams. May 5 they got two more supers and on May 13 there were bees in 50 seams. On May 16 I dug down to the bottom box to find a frame of larvae for grafting, counted bees in 55 seams. Today, they have 5 supers on, 4 of them are being capped and bees fill every seam in every box, plus they have a pollen trap in place.

    Our methodology here is designed for consistency. I have inspection sheets that come out to the yard on a clipboard every time we open colonies. Any time I look into boxes, we start by counting seams of bees then record the numbers. We track when supers go on, and weigh them coming off. What we have learned from doing it this way, once you get into the rhythm of keeping the records, it's not much of a burden. Write down how many seams of bees, and when we do dig deeper into the colonies, write down a count of frames with brood and those with pollen. There is a tick box to be ticked off if the colony stung me, another for 'saw queen, and another for if she was marked so we know she has not been superceeded.

    Consistent records is a concept I took from a presentation by Michael Palmer and how he used them last year. What we have learned from the exercise, it's amazing how much our memory fools us at times, but recorded data holds the true story. When we did our first hive check this spring, one of them looked spectacular, bees on all 10 frames in the top box, my wife commented as we put in the first patty, I know who gets to be the queen mother this year, I agreed with her. On April 15 they had bees in 14 seams and were barely touching the honey super by May 13. They looked fabulous in February, by never really took off. Looking back to the history, they were requeened last May and thru last year were a little below average all season but went into winter with a good size cluster and good stores. The point is, that first spring inspection really left an impression, and if we didn't have recorded numbers, we would be very biased thinking that was one of our best colonies, and the afore mentioned stellar colony would not be considered 'best'. Our memory fools us constantly on such things, see one spectacular thing and forever forward you suffer 'observational bias' toward that colony.

    My criteria for choosing where I graft from is fairly basic, and comes entirely from the records. A colony that meets a few conditions gets chosen. It must have produced a stellar crop of honey on either the spring or fireweed flow. Never been stung during an inspection, and never made swarm cells. From our perspective, everything else is 'just noise', these are the only criteria that matter to us. Bees that don't attack us are nice. Bees that dont make a good honey crop have no value to us, and swarmy bees have little value. I really like the colony that is capping in 4 supers, bees in 6 boxes and have not made any swarm cells. If I could have 2 dozen colonies like that we'll have a more productive apiary than somebody with 50 colonies of bees that attack you when opening hives and swarm every spring. This is my long term goal, bees that dont swarm, do make honey, and dont attack us when we are working in the back lot tending garlic and vegetable patches where the hives are sitting. Still working on ridding us of a couple lines that go into attack mode when my wife is planting her tomatoes in the vegetable patches in front of the hive stands. 4 stands have hives that dont attack, one has hives that come out with a vengeance, but they get new queens in a couple weeks once the cells in the mating nucs are mated and laying.
    A good common sense approach. Global values (survival, honey production, gentleness, and frugalness are most important).

  18. #57

    Default Re: Of mites and colony mythology (and ailing Carnis)

    Wonderful comments here.

    Mike,
    when I was new I euthanized a hive with paralyze virus, out of pity mostly and because I did not want the survivors to drift to the others. Sulfured them. It was hard.

    Grozzie2
    I understand your approach but my criteria differs.
    Itīs simple: I take the same notes like you but if the colony survives two winters treatment free here, it is a breeder. Even with splitting. That because of my locale.
    The other traits be watched too but resistance and tolerance to mites it first choice.
    I have a queen which is a little too hot to my taste but she is productive ( honey brood). Made a daughter, letīs see what happens. Could be I change my attitude.

    Leroy,
    good answer. I yet have to see the difference between "colony" and "queen". The super organism is what you describe and which works. This is to be considered when managements are done.
    I wish you luck with marking. Mine are not marked. I take a pict of each one but they now start to look the same so itīs getting harder. Will mark in future perhaps.

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