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  1. #581
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    February 2020 temps - pretty average February around here (2019 was much colder).
    Feb2020.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #582
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    However, they seem to be surviving consistently at only one of my yards - to be noted.
    GregV:

    Interesting observations. While I have little to base it on, it seems intuitive to me that forage quality has to have some bearing on the overall health (and thus survival) of colonies. Are there possibly opportunities for you to either increase hive density at your best yard and/or find similar ecological areas to expand into?
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  4. #583
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    Interesting observations. While I have little to base it on, it seems intuitive to me that forage quality has to have some bearing on the overall health (and thus survival) of colonies. Are there possibly opportunities for you to either increase hive density at your best yard and/or find similar ecological areas to expand into?
    #1 - the base (backyard)
    #2 - secondary base (the bus stop acquaintance property - 1/2 mile from the base)
    #3 - private preserve/farmstead (2-3 miles away)
    #4 - private farmstead (5-6 miles away)
    #5 - private preserve (5-6 miles away)
    #6 - commercial farm (2-3 miles away)
    #7 - private homestead next to a state nature preserve (~10 miles away)
    #3 is the property where I have the two surviving units.
    As far as the nutrition goes - #3 is not obviously better than #1 or #2 (both are next to a large state nature preserve too, compatible to #3).
    However, #3 has much better general ecology than #1 and #2, (#3 is removed from a dense suburb by a good distance).

    In general, I don't have sites with obviously more poor nutrition.
    All sites have very diverse and satisfactory pastures (even #6 has good pastures close enough).
    My last remaining unit happened to be at the #6.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #584
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    In general, I don't have sites with obviously more poor nutrition.
    Fair enough- I was just curious if there was (or will emerge) some factor at site #3 which confers a survival advantage.

    Maybe the coming years will yield more clues or substantiate that it is strictly coincidence.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  6. #585
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    But I can now certify I have a line on hand that consistently survived through 3 winters somehow.
    Can still be a random case, but after 3 winters the randomness of survival is harder to attribute now as the various bees around kept predictably failing.
    However, they seem to be surviving consistently at only one of my yards - to be noted.
    I am having a bit of trouble folowing you..
    these are from a June swam contoral split Are these 2019 june queens or last years overwintered queens.
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  7. #586
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    I am having a bit of trouble folowing you..
    these are from a June swam contoral split Are these 2019 june queens or last years overwintered queens.
    2019 June queens.

    Not a particular bee.
    A line.

    I think I see what you getting at - no queen ever lived for more than 1 winter (it is NOT a survival - as you stated above already).

    What I am getting at - after 3 winters, only the bees of this particular line are still consistently surviving.
    By a randomness factor - this line should be also dead.

    Any other line I had - could only survive 1 winter - I went through about 10 lines by now (I can and should count exactly how many as I got the records).
    One line did 2 winters - before the last unit of them died off in Feb 2020.
    Last edited by GregV; 03-02-2020 at 01:02 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #587
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Fair enough- I was just curious if there was (or will emerge) some factor at site #3 which confers a survival advantage.

    Maybe the coming years will yield more clues or substantiate that it is strictly coincidence.
    Deleted... (I got confused).

    Yes - this as well could be about the particular site and not about the particular bees.
    Or both.

    For example, my #2 site is very close to a busy 2-lane road (less than 10 meters/30 feet; shielded by vegetation, but still lots of traffic).
    I begin to doubt the #2 is a good site in general for some reason (road pollution?).

    Every single unit of my "3-year" survivor line ended up dead in that particular yard (4 units this 2020 winter; 3 units in 2019 winter).
    Actually, NO bees of any line at all ever survived in the yard #2 (3 years in a row now).
    Makes me think if I should even continue that yard outside of swarm trapping there.
    Last edited by GregV; 03-02-2020 at 01:13 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #588
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    What I am getting at - after 3 winters, only the bees of this particular line are still consistently surviving.
    By a randomness factor - this line should be also dead.
    maybe, but is it just the odds, did you make more splits form these vs outhers, you do so much stuff differently each time its hard to evaluate..Could have been the split before the mites pop got too high coupled with the brood break causing this survival etc
    after 3 years, loosing 50% of the base genetics each generation this "line" is much more made up of the background genetics supplying the drones then the original queen.. currant work force is what, maybe 12.5% or less of the OG queen (not counting recombination!!), cut that in 1/2 again when you split this spring.

    Winter of 17/18 82% loses
    Winter of 18/19 71% loses
    winter of 19-20 84% loss and counting
    I don't see "consistently surviving", and I don't see the impact this so called survivor line is having, given they would have been the hives you split form each spring if they were "better" then one would expect losses to go down, if survival is "random" it would stay the same
    your losses are very high, even for TF in your neck of the woods. It might be worth the time to take a hard look and evaluate your beekeeping methods (as you note late splits consistently fail, maby overwintered queens need replaced toward the end of the flow as then don't make the 2nd winter, ) as they might be having a much larger impact then geneticists.

    I realy think your fooling your self, take it for what its worth.
    PS I made up a bunch of those Ukraine foam mating nucs, have to see how they work, but digging them so far.
    Last edited by msl; 03-02-2020 at 01:58 PM.
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  10. #589
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    maybe, but is it just the odds, did you make more splits form these vs outhers, you do so much stuff differently each time its hard to evaluate..Could have been the split before the mites pop got too high coupled with the brood break causing this survival etc
    after 3 years, loosing 50% of the base genetics each generation this "line" is much more made up of the background genetics supplying the drones then the original queen.. currant work force is what, maybe 12.5% or less of the OG queen (not counting recombination!!), cut that in 1/2 again when you split this spring.

    Winter of 17/18 82% loses
    Winter of 18/19 71% loses
    winter of 19-20 84% loss and counting
    I don't see "consistently surviving", and I don't see the impact this so called survivor line is having, given they would have been the hives you split form each spring if they were "better" then one would expect losses to go down, if survival is "random" it would stay the same
    your losses are very high, even for TF in your neck of the woods. It might be worth the time to take a hard look and evaluate your beekeeping methods (as you note late splits consistently fail, maby overwintered queens need replaced toward the end of the flow as then don't make the 2nd winter, ) as they might be having a much larger impact then geneticists.

    I realy think your fooling your self, take it for what its worth.
    PS I made up a bunch of those Ukraine foam mating nucs, have to see how they work, but digging them so far.
    Some lines are consistently and predictably dead - a fact.
    Other lines are NOT consistently and predictably dead - another fact.
    The explanations are not known and I don't care about splitting my head over that.
    I just have my own little, isolated facts and work with them.

    Coming to a conclusion that 5-frame nucs are not working for me - all it is to it.
    That is where my losses are coming from (this 5-frame nuc-centered model is not working here - winter is too harsh and long for not-treated nucs).
    IMO, the nuc running model of Mike Palmer really is dependent on treatments (which in turn keeps the small clusters just above water).

    I also lost two over-wintered queens because I used them to produce drones.
    Should pull over-wintered queens out into brood-less shook swarms after the drone production season - so to save them aside.
    This drone production business, while is necessary, is also mite production business and kills the over-wintered queens.

    The plan is:
    1)start practicing the mite-counts (true - I ignored it; but without the counts I can not be proactive and don't know in fall which units are winter-worthy)
    2)identify low-count units in fall and
    3)combine the low-count units by 2-3 where needed - so to offset higher then normal levels of attrition due to chem-free regiment
    4)high-count units to be harvested to the bone and left to fail

    Speaking of high losses - just found out fresh news about one local conventional beek:
    ".. he said that he has lost all but one of his ~40 or so colonies. He treated them and still lost them..."
    I thought I had it bad.
    Last edited by GregV; 03-03-2020 at 10:20 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #590
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Greg
    You split a lot. My very first year a bee keeper told me that he had more confidence in a big hive making it compared to a small hive. I have wintered a single medium. I have did a few splits to see how to do them. Mostly, I let most hives do what they want and leave them if they get big or stay little with out mixing resource between them. Maybe concentrate on swarms for increase and let the others do what ever they will and only play with like a third of your hives rather then all of them.

    Not saying it would work in any way. Just wondering if you have ever tried it.

    Either way, Good luck. You at least still have bees to play with with out having to buy any. That is sorta my goal in the end.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  12. #591
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    My take is your fooling you self if you think 2-3 over wintered queens are going to generate enough drones to have an impact, much less an impact or your own splits taken from them.. If you did you would be inbreeding, most of us would. Thats just not how bees work

    On top of that, drones are top level athletes and a single mite has a massive impact on there fitness. Give the mites preference for drone brood they can be quicly impacted
    in BUBALO (2004) TF hives lost 90% of their drones on the 1st orientation flight.
    Duay 2002 found one mite cut the drones sperm production by 24%, 2 mites 45%. and in wind tunnel testing found
    We conclude that most of the drones parasitized by Varroa mites during pupal infesta-tion will unlikely be able to reach a DCA. Similar conclusions were also reached by Pechhacker(1998) and Sylvester et al. (1999), although no relation was made with the degree of individualpupal infestation. In addition, the diminished life expectancy of parasitized drones (Rinderer etal., 1999; Collins and Pettis, 2001, and P.R. Duay, unpublished results) and the probable disori-entation during early orientation flights (D. Bubalo, H. Pechhacker, A. Willam, N. Kezic and D.Sulmanovic, unpublished data) will also reduce the number of Varroa-parasitized drones thatcan be regarded as potential mates.Even if a drone has reached a DCA, it must be capable of chasing the queen in a high-speed flight, in order to have a chance to copulate with her (Gries and Koeniger, 1996). Ourdata suggest that few of the mite-parasitized drones would be able to do so.
    long and short, its unlikely your drones matter

    Coming to a conclusion that 5-frame nucs are not working for me - all it is to it.
    That is where my losses are coming from (this 5-frame nuc-centered model is not working here - winter is too harsh and long for not-treated nucs).
    IMO, the nuc running model of Mike Palmer really is dependent on treatments (which in turn keeps the small clusters just above water).
    Interesting change from Nov
    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    In general, I am yet to see a smallish nuc to be killed by mites (the wintering is the problem to be solved with these).
    If I figure out the formula to consistently over-winter enough mid/late summer nucs - I don't really care of any calamities then - these nucs in general are very healthy (just small - which can be mitigated by a variety of ways).
    The large units I find (especially, the overwintered units or prime swarms) are likely to be mite-killed -
    .

    yet Palmer only treats once a year, and got the model from Webster who is TF and "expansion model" beekeeping has been about as "successful" as it gets for many TF keepers.

    I suggest the issue is not a well proven system, but your application of it. Maybe too small, too late, with poor emergy queens heading them up? A split too far? (a trap I keep falling into my self). 5 frame singes vs 4 over 4 and side by side sharing heat?

    The plan is:
    1)start practicing the mite-counts (true - I ignored it; but without the counts I can not be proactive and don't know in fall which units are winter-worthy)
    2)identify low-count units in fall and
    3)combine the low-count units by 2-3 where needed - so to offset higher then normal levels of attrition due to chem-free regiment
    4)high-count units to be harvested to the bone and left to fail

    1
    2-3 but watch the development stage as well.. combining a bunch of (newer) units with old bees that haven't yet made winter bees just means a bunch of old dead bees down the road. I lost a bunch of later nucs (combined mateing nucs and splits using the lat round of queens) that had ok pops but then shed the old bees and froze in tiny clusters leaving a lot of stores. The splits made 3-4 weeks earlier did much better. There is a point where you may just be better off harvesting a dink like the skep keepers of old.
    4 I my self would euthanize them (95 gal trash bag) or at least use a robbing screen to protect the low mite hives. A total shake out and feed would let you put them to work drawing and filling comb for next years splits/winter emergency

    Over all I applaud you stepping up and exerting some control over your stocks destiny above and beyond the hand "nature" has been dealing you.
    Last edited by msl; 03-03-2020 at 08:08 PM.
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  13. #592
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    And so to conclude this case cleanly - 2/19 is the final toll.
    10%.

    As of last weekend - only the 2 units are still standing side by side.
    Two June 2019 sisters.
    This is the line going back 3 winters now.

    20200405_152520.jpg
    Sister to the left is short-tempered, of alert nature - the stronger of the two (mid-size overall) - very little winter loss.
    Sister to the right is of mild disposition - the weakling of the two - lots of winter losses that I scooped out, but still made it through and will be a fine unit.

    Both unis were very low maintenance - I spent very little time in 2019 with these (no feeding whatsoever).
    I had no time for these and almost thought they swarmed on me in July (were sitting in under-sized equipment) - well, they did not swarm.

    Both unit provisioned lots of stores and did not use much (I even stole some very heavy frames this past weekend to harvest).

    I will want to make as many queens as possible from these two - especially from the feisty sister.
    Last edited by GregV; 04-08-2020 at 08:56 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #593
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post

    Interesting change from Nov

    yet Palmer only treats once a year, and got the model from Webster who is TF and "expansion model" beekeeping has been about as "successful" as it gets for many TF keepers.

    I suggest the issue is not a well proven system, but your application of it. Maybe too small, too late, with poor emergy queens heading them up? A split too far? (a trap I keep falling into my self). 5 frame singes vs 4 over 4 and side by side sharing heat?
    Regarding - "Interesting change from Nov".
    The seemingly strong units typically very quickly and catastrophically collapse in August/September/for sure October - classic case.
    The small units typically don't collapse in early fall - but they keep shedding bees through the winter (some quicker than others) and eventually drop below the critical level to just stay warm to survive.
    That is the general difference.
    No change in my conclusion - the strongest 5 units I had were ALL dead by October (quick collapse and done).
    Mid-size/small-size units stretched into March - the last mid-size dropped off in March (some random swarm I had hopes for).
    I could have saved a couple of small units in my backyard by plugging the heaters - but I just missed the no-return point in February when it was the real hammer (should just plug them in proactively in February).

    Overall, June-made splits seem to be a better bet in my location vs. the July/August-made splits.
    July/August-made splits should be combined - but only if the mite counts indicate such units are compatible to each other as worth saving.
    The winter here is too harsh for Mel D's method to work as-written.

    But really, any of this stated only makes sense with sufficiently mite-resistant (or is it tolerant?) bees.
    I am pretty sure I will rebuild from my consistently surviving line again.

    However, any random swarms that will come along are nothing but short-term resource units that will predictably die (well, still hoping for a Russian swarm to land).
    The swarms is one reason I still keep harvesting honey/perga after the winter.
    Need to free up my freezers soon here to freeze as many frames as possible - thanks to the COVID, we are doing just that.
    A good deal.
    Last edited by GregV; 04-08-2020 at 08:45 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #594
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Took a pencil and paper and finally figured out how many distinct known lines I went through in 2016-2020 period.
    A single line <> a single queen.

    For example, line AR (my own coding) started with 3 sister queens from a known source.
    Line FI started with 2 sister queens from a known source
    Still, each one queen group was a distinct line - no matter how many queens, as long as they were related.

    Most lines, however, were represented by a single queen - each single queen mapping to a randomly caught swarm of unknown origin (so I counted each queen as a line).

    So - starting the season of 2016 into season 2020 I went through 14 distinct lines to the best of my knowledge.

    The sole surviving line after three winters - ARAA line (started from a single queen I got in spring of 2017).
    The ARAA line contains some lineage from Anarchy Apiaries (Sam Comfort), per my own records that I just found - I kept thinking of Beeweavers for some reason (wrongly).

    ARAA line of queens consistently made through 3 winters with no chem treatments (only subject to crude OTS splitting).
    With losses, of course.
    Some of the losses are due to my own experimentation, mistakes, and stupidity.
    Other losses due to the random mating, bad honey, weather, etc.
    Still, the ARAA line is living on despite the terrible treatment from me.

    This can not be random, dumb luck - rather this is a quality of the ARAA bee - I am sure.

    The runner-up was the line AR - but only made through two (2) winters before fading away - no more of these left.
    Unfortunately, I probably butchered this line from the start when used 2 of the 3 queens with highly infested commercial swarms - impossible to turn around.
    Only one of many mistakes made.

    Three lines made through one (1) winter before fading away.
    I suspect I simply got lucky by capturing the swarms from well treated apiaries - which then amounted to low mite loads initially - which then allowed them winter once.

    Nine lines I had did not even make through one winter.
    This is why I think of the most random swarms in my area to be throw-away, short-term resources.

    Overall, getting good initial material from well-known TF source to get your program started makes sense (be it Anarchy Apiaries or a resistant feral population or whatever place)
    Chasing random swarms in hopes of catching some TF material - does not make much sense in my particular location (and I believe for most locations just the same).
    Last edited by GregV; 04-08-2020 at 11:04 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #595
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Lines (my own codes point to the particular line's origin):
    -------------------------------------------
    ARAA --> 3 winters --> active...
    AR --> 2 winters
    SP --> 1 winter
    FI2 --> 1 winter
    DU1 --> 1 winter
    SWC --> 0 winters
    MW --> 0 winters
    ME --> 0 winters
    FI1 --> 0 winters
    OR1 --> 0 winters
    DU2 --> 0 winters
    OR2 --> 0 winters
    FI2 --> 0 winters
    FI3 --> 0 winters
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #596
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    I don't recall you saying, but do you have large commercial apiaries near you? You have said there are some back yard hives that replace frequently from mail order bees.

    I wonder if my swarm last spring has some Russian. They are dark, brown to black, and 4 of 4 survived winter, with no treatment except splitting. I'll never know...but looking forward to splitting again into as many as I can get this year.

  18. #597
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    many thanks for the update greg.

  19. #598
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Overall, getting good initial material from well-known TF source to get your program started makes sense (be it Anarchy Apiaries or a resistant feral population or whatever place)
    Chasing random swarms in hopes of catching some TF material - does not make much sense in my particular location (and I believe for most locations just the same).
    GregV:

    Glad to see your posts- I sincerely hope all is well with you and your family.

    Based on your bottom-line conclusions above, have you set out your goals for 2020? Do they involve bringing in some outside genetics or strictly propagation from the two surviving ARRA colonies?
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  20. #599
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Overall, getting good initial material from well-known TF source to get your program started makes sense (be it Anarchy Apiaries or a resistant feral population or whatever place)
    Chasing random swarms in hopes of catching some TF material - does not make much sense
    I think someone has said that a few time, just can't remember who
    I have always enjoyed the fact you keep (and share) good records, you are now reaping the benefits, turning your experiences into self-education and sharping your understanding of how things work.
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  21. #600
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    Default Re: Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Greg, hoping that you are able to build upon your success with ARAA line you have cultivated.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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