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  1. #241
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Been finger-counting here....
    Well, shoot, if every July start-up pans out as set - I will have 20 units to try to winter.
    Now, I got no equipment to do that (yet).
    Why I am doing this to myself?
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #242
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Been finger-counting here....
    Well, shoot, if every July start-up pans out as set - I will have 20 units to try to winter.
    Now, I got no equipment to do that (yet).
    Why I am doing this to myself?
    Hi Greg, In the long hive of yours, have you tried to put one colony in each end? with divider boards on the inner edge adding in frames to the center?
    Mine will allow that, it helps to put 2 in one box, if one fails to make the winter the combs can be just slid over in the spring. I'm in the same boat out of tops and bottoms, and down to the last few combs. A swarm at this point would need to go into NUC boxes.

    good luck with the 20 units having 10-12 good strong ones in the spring would be a interesting 2020
    GG

  4. #243
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    Hi Greg, In the long hive of yours, have you tried to put one colony in each end? .....GG
    I have.
    When in a pinch, I will do that too - because I can (will fit 8 units into 4 long hives).
    I simply dislike tight quarters and try to avoid if I can help it (that empty hive end is very handy for lots of uses).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #244
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    good luck with the 20 units having 10-12 good strong ones in the spring would be a interesting 2020
    GG
    This sounds like an ambitious and doable plan for next year that gives you lots of options.

    What do they say about necessity being the mother of invention? As ingenious as you are, I have no doubt you will figure out a creative means to house them all.

    Congratulations on the successful starts.

    Russ

  6. #245
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Litsinger found a great document and posted in his thread (it is there to read).
    I will steal a great quote since it fits exact idea I am trying to maintain in my own "Darwinian-modified" approaches.

    This one:
    The research shows that beekeepers can greatly stimulate varroa infestation by: ...... (2) putting colonies close together in a row..................
    I am going to omit the discussion of horizontal transmissions of the parasites/infections by the drifting bees.

    Instead, I want to point out - close clustering bee colonies in a row is the farthest possible placement of the colonies from natural.
    Why?
    Because naturally trees do NOT grow in tight and proper rows.
    Ground caves are also NOT found in properly designed rows.
    Nothing in nature exists in rows.

    This human tendency to have everything organized in rows and stacks (while industrially efficient and logical) completely screws up bees natural abilities to orient in space.
    In 3-D space we normally orient by distinct X-Y-Z parameters for each object.
    I imagine bees are affected by the same phenomena.
    So, a long row of closely placed, similar entrances screw up the distinct X-Y-Z parameters since the distinctions become hard for the bees to decypher (yes - smell helps somewhat, but close placement of the hives confuses the smells too).
    Notice, how "blind" bees are within close proximity to their own hive - there is a significant blind zone around the colony - within the blind zone bees are unable to effectively describe to the other bees locations of objects - they have no "words" to describe the positions of the objects located too close to each other.

    I don't know how - but the rows definitely screw with the bees brains somehow and mess up the orientation - not good.
    So in my program, I insist on NOT having rows.
    Instead, it is sort of a checker-board placement (integrating other objects into the checker-board - trees/bushes/structures) or an outward facing circle or just a random placement based on the specific place.
    Basically, I want each hive entrance to have its own unmistakable X-Y-Z coordinates and unique direction.

    If I happen to have kind of a row that is mitigated by the differing entrance orientations and other objects to give bees visual clues.
    This is one reason I don't like two colonies in the same long hive - (that is a row) - the corner placed entrances and other clues (coloring) do help the bees (still I try avoiding this placement).

    A very simple and yet effective rule - no rows.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-20-2019 at 11:38 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #246
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    So in my program, I insist on NOT having rows.

    A very simple and yet effective rule - no rows.
    GregV:

    For my part, I think you are on to something here. It seems there is little downside to arranging one's hives in such a fashion other than a management efficiency penalty, and there seems to be quite a lot of evidence that there is a lot of benefit to colony health. For hobby operators at least, there seems to be little to lose and potentially quite a lot to gain by arranging one's hives in a random fashion.

  8. #247
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    1310000032-l.jpg

    mud_tube_hives.jpg
    mud_apiary.jpgimage92.jpg
    4,000 years or so of rows..... must be something there

    Might it help, yes. If I put a band aid on a bullet wound it might help... but some quick clot, a tourniquet, quick 1st responded response, ALS support and and arrival at a trauma surgical center in under an hour turns the tide.
    not saying don't if you can, can' t hurt. But the volume of hives needed to support a self sufficiency yard (no imports... swarms or other wise ) often means rows for many small scale keepers with limited space.
    In stead, in most cases, detection and removal of high pathogen load hives seems to be the way forward with most bee issues...
    stop the spreading of pathogens from sick hives, stop the poor genetics. both are needed to happen, but as we live in a tractor trailer beekeeping world, we can only do little against the latter, so we must attack the first one...

  9. #248
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    .....4,000 years or so of rows..... must be something there........
    ... Rows and rows of smallish "bee-jars" of Egyptian bee colonies (10-20-30 liters? anyone?), allowed to swarm at will, running the natural cell free combs that were routinely cut-out and rebuilt ....

    Apis mellifera lamarckii - "It is considered defensive, low in honey yield, and exhibiting good hygienic behavior".
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_mellifera_lamarckii

    Surely cases of massive transmissible infections and parasites that wiped entire bee-walls out but were NEVER/EVER treated for obvious reasons.
    The collapsed bee-walls were promptly repopulated right back by abundant feral swarms just looking to re-fill back those "bee-jars".

    No Facebook/Twitter to immediately announce to the World how you just lost your 500 bee hives.... and why even bother "twitting" - in few short months you'd get back all the bees you care to "keep" by doing nothing...


    Should I continue?
    Last edited by GregV; 07-22-2019 at 09:24 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #249
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    ....... often means rows for many small scale keepers with limited space. .........
    Unsure about the other small scale keepers - I can have 10-20 yards IF I want to - getting those yards is stupid simple in my location (people beg you to bring bees; but also never hurts to ask - which I do).
    Well, if those small scale keepers don't want to bother with multiple locations.... too bad - all I can say (yes, I get it - not everyone is capable, but most just don't want to bother).

    Yes - it takes extra time and effort and planning ahead your bee-yard work.
    No - you don't need to go and see your remote bees every other day (once in 2-3 weeks is sufficient).
    Yes - you can make few strategic decisions and still be efficient with multiple small yards.
    No - it will not be as convenient as when ALL your bees are in a single backyard, few steps away.
    Yes - "Redundancy and Recoverability" is a common sense approach in Finance, Information Technology, Military, ...... and Beekeeeping.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #250
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    ... Rows and rows of smallish "bee-jars" of Egyptian bee colonies (10-20-30 liters? anyone?), allowed to swarm at will, running the natural cell free combs that were routinely cut-out and rebuilt ....
    .............
    Should I continue?
    Why, I forgot - in the "Primitive beekeeping" thread I even posted a video of this exact way of beekeeping as we speak in places like Oman, Bahrain, Yemen and such places:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8IN3VeILaQ

    Now, everything I stated above about the Egypt 4000 years ago - stays pretty much the same.
    Yemeni Bees have been doing great and will likely continue to do great.

    They don't know what the chemical treatments are as these are pretty much irrelevant as the bees live just as any wild bee in a log.
    These are also not the temperate forest bees.

    Will this work in my North American backyard?
    No.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-22-2019 at 10:02 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #251
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    GregV:

    Not to throw shade on this discussion, but I ran-across a research paper published in the July 2019 edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology that specifically addresses the question of apiary configuration and disease prevalence that I thought would be germane to this discussion.

    The paper is entitled, ‘Industrial bees: The impact of apicultural intensification on local disease prevalence’:

    https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wi...365-2664.13461
    https://phys.org/news/2019-07-intens...ommon-bee.html

    They looked at apiary sizes between 9 and 225 colonies, arranged in three (3) different configurations (see attached photo).

    The difference between the best and worst-case arrangements netted, “… a 10‐fold increase in movement of honeybees between colonies.”

    The results were summarized by noting that, “Even at its peak, the effect of intensification (which is as extreme as plausible), leads to an additional ~18% of bees infected at disease equilibrium.”

    The lead researcher is quoted as saying-

    "Crowding of animals or crops—or people—into minimal space usually increases rates of disease spread," said Lewis Bartlett, of the University of Exeter and Emory University.

    "We carried out this study because beekeepers were worried about this—especially given the many threats currently causing the decline of bees.

    To our surprise, our results show it's very unlikely that crowding of honeybees meaningfully aids the spread of diseases that significantly harm honeybees.

    Honeybees live in close proximity to each other naturally, and our models show that adding more bees does little to raise disease risk.

    So, beekeepers don't need to worry about how many bees they keep together as long as there is enough food for them.

    The key is not whether they encounter a disease—it's whether they are fit and healthy enough to fight it off."


    After reading the paper, a few observations jumped-out at me, namely:

    1. The research was based on mathematical models of disease spread based on empirical data collected relative to inter-colony Nosema transmission.

    2. The results suggest that increased hive densities do not significantly increase disease spread, “… because even low‐intensity apiculture exhibits high disease prevalence.”

    3. The findings are silent concerning ectoparasite transmission (i.e. varroa), though some of the modeled diseases (i.e. DWV) are closely-related to mite incursions.

    So, it appears the crux of the findings suggest that at least for certain pathogens (those with a relatively high R0) there is a, “… universally rapid spread.” R0 is defined in the context of the paper as, “… a fundamental concept in infectious disease ecology, defined as the average number of secondary infections caused by one infectious individual in an otherwise entirely susceptible population.”

    Similarly, the converse would be true- diseases with a relatively low R0 would be best mitigated by decreasing the hive density. That said, they note, "...we argue that there is likely to be a high base R0 in important honeybee diseases and, therefore, our models suggest that there is likely to be little effect of apiary‐scale intensification on disease prevalences. However, if a pathogen emerges with a relatively low R0, our model does indicate that extreme intensification could lead to a significant increase in prevalence of approximately 18.5%."

    While the results (particularly the discussion) left me wanting more, it appears that they are intimating (but not yet hypothesizing) that because drones are allowed to travel between hives at-will, latent robbing is normative and important bee diseases are highly virulent, hive spacing and orientation in-and-of-itself is only of limited value in reducing disease spread.

    All that said, it still makes common sense to me that on a practical level it is better to spread one’s colonies out as much as is practical, especially on a hobbyist level where one is afforded the luxury to do so as I can see no real downside.

    Colony Configurations.jpg

  13. #252
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Russ,

    I too thought of this common idea of "drones crossing-over to any hive of their choosing" and how they too are the vehicles of the horizontal pathogen transmission.
    IF true and/or significant enough - why all those talks by Seeley and the company of the spacing, etc, etc.
    What does it matter IF drones will cross the colony-lines anyway regardless of the spacing/orientation/distinction?

    Well, few observations..

    I have very dark drones and light drones in different mother hives; I have to say - I am yet to see lots "light" drones to be present in the "dark" hives (and vice versa).
    While I have seen some mix up (due to possibly foreign drones) I would not call such mix ups very significant AS IF the drones do NOT care where they exited and where they returned - seems to me they very much return to the same hive they exited from (unless a T-Storm caught them far away).

    Also - as we are aware, the queen will generate very consistent drones (not a wide variety, like with the worker bees under the conditions of wide hybridization due to the packages, migration, etc).
    So, as expected, in my "dark" hives I find dark drones; in my "light" hives I find light drones.
    I am yet to observe a mix of drones in a hive (maybe 2-3 there and here; but nothing of a significant mix - this tells me - no significant drone migrations is happening as written up all over).

    If anything to measure the bee drifting - they should be instead talking of the drone drifting (easier to do because the drones are consistent per their mother hive and so you can actually observe and count them reliably).

    Especially of interest - I have this 2-frame nuc of very small population with a newly mated queen.
    What I did - I grabbed lots of drones (there was a large cluster of mostly drones hanging outside the mother hive) - I then dumped them into my nuc so to add the population to it (drones are beneficial in hive thermo-regulation - especially in a weak hive). To prevent the questions - yes, I feed this nuc using a frame of old stores - all those drones need to be fed too.

    So let me state here - those drones largely are staying in the same nuc as I meant them to be - to help with brood warming.
    Since the population numbers are easy to estimate (2-frames only) - I can tell - the drones ARE staying here as if this nuc is their home-base.
    Also - these ALL are dark drones generated by the dark mother hive - so I can tell - I have not found a single light drone yet in this 2-frame nuc - no foreign drones.
    The drones could be flying around - but ultimately - they still return home - this little 2-frame nuc.
    And so - the drones do have their preferred home-base, per my observation, and do not flip the hives willy-nilly as they wish.
    Presumably, they will be let in any hive if asked to enter - but they are probably prefer returning to their well-know home-base (conditions permitting).

    Speaking of the "Industrial bees"....
    I want to presume up front - they did not do their studies in a forest, but rather in an open field with no distinct markers outside of a bunch of identical white boxes in different row formations (a matrix of rows; curved row - resulting in a circle; straight row). In such setups, there is always a "white, 3-box" home base, and the "3-box white" hive left of it and the "3-box white" hive right of it - pretty soon and given enough time, you don't know which is which - and everything will average out across the yard (mites, smells, infections, etc).

    Here in my town, we have one of the largest AG schools in the nation.
    They are big in research, funded by the various AG and CHEM industries and so it goes...
    They can justify just about anything and invent just about anything to ensure those research grants keep coming in.

    All in all, next week I will do my final count of the July queen mating.
    Fingers crossed for 12/12 or close to it.
    Pretty sure it will happen; pretty sure the nuc placements/orientations would be a positive factor; not allowing the mating queens to get confused - very critical.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-22-2019 at 12:51 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #253
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I too thought of this common idea of "drones crossing-over to any hive of their choosing" and how they too are the vehicles of the horizontal pathogen transmission. IF true and/or significant enough - why all those talks by Seeley and the company of the spacing, etc, etc.
    What does it matter IF drones will cross the colony-lines anyway regardless of the spacing/orientation/distinction?
    GregV: No arguments from me- for my part, I think the idea of random apiary design is a good thing and I intend to continue employing it as much as practical in my own yard, if for no other reason than the practical benefits of less drift, higher percentage queen returns, etc.

    I *think* based on my understanding of the research is that they are suggesting that (as an example) given that drones are considered to be more susceptible to disease carrying and that they are generally welcome in any hive, it could conceivably only take one (1) EFB carrying drone (as an example) to carry the disease to an otherwise healthy colony and thus vector in infection. I suppose one might be able to combat this scenario by installing robbing screens on all hives?

    So the take-away was that for these diseases where it 'only takes one' to spread, a lower density might only decrease the rate but not the totality of the disbursement.

    Still- it just makes intuitive sense to me to spread them out, and that is a good enough reason to do it in my mind.

    Keep up the good work!

    Russ

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV: No arguments from me- for my part, I think the idea of random apiary design is a good thing and I intend to continue employing it as much as practical in my own yard, if for no other reason than the practical benefits of less drift, higher percentage queen returns, etc.

    I *think* based on my understanding of the research is that they are suggesting that (as an example) given that drones are considered to be more susceptible to disease carrying and that they are generally welcome in any hive, it could conceivably only take one (1) EFB carrying drone (as an example) to carry the disease to an otherwise healthy colony and thus vector in infection. I suppose one might be able to combat this scenario by installing robbing screens on all hives?

    So the take-away was that for these diseases where it 'only takes one' to spread, a lower density might only decrease the rate but not the totality of the disbursement.

    Still- it just makes intuitive sense to me to spread them out, and that is a good enough reason to do it in my mind.

    Keep up the good work!

    Russ
    Sure.
    As for me I am about "totally" sure I will never have total survival - like 100%.
    This particular part is about totally impossible.
    Haha!

    Does not matter how randomly I place the hives across the landscape, how successfully mate the July splits, etc, etc.

    50-60% survival for me is a success and is way, way above the natural norm (25%?)
    With that even 50% is abnormally high and pushing the natural limits.

    With that I am never worried of a single EFB drone coming in. So what? OK, a hive will die. Maybe.

    Heck, I am more worried of my potato and apple crop this year.
    Green beans too - darn bunnies mowed down my green bean crop to the ground. Just replanted again.
    Got lots of summer squash though this summer - to be frozen I guess.
    So - do the redundancy and recover-ability and you are going to be OK.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #255
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    So - do the redundancy and recover-ability and you are going to be OK.
    I think the idea of 'resilient design' is hard to argue against, and as you said is applicable in just about any industry... and I do unfortunately know all about the trials and trepidations in the orchard and the garden. Sometimes makes beekeeping seem easy by comparison!

  17. #256
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    As far as ants go - I got lots of them and the bees don't seem to mind (none absconded yet).

    Shake them out/sweep them out of the way and moving alone - no sleep lost.
    They are typically back the next time I check the hive.
    I got them all - little ones and big ones.
    The big, black ones make for a better picture, so here is one from the last night.

    WARNING, don't look if have ant-phobia.
    20190721_192606.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #257
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Been finger-counting here....
    Well, shoot, if every July start-up pans out as set - I will have 20 units to try to winter.
    Now, I got no equipment to do that (yet).
    Why I am doing this to myself?
    OK, checked the remaining start-ups.
    Writing off one as a failure.
    It also looks as if one of the nucs with two QCs in it issued a little swarm with a virgin (both QCs hatched and the bees are fewer than I expected, but I still have a queen in there).
    I hope someone nearby gets this little TF virgin queen and keeps her well; I sure did not catch her.

    So have 19 queen-right units to play with now, of various shapes and sizes.
    One is on just 2 frames but the queen is good and they should build up.
    A bunch of 3-framers.
    A couple of May splits on 8-10 frames.
    A very late June swarm on 8 frames.
    And 6 big resource/production hives (including a prime swarm caught in late May; I have a suspicion that another swarm landed directly onto them and joined in - but only a suspicion).

    Summer is still long and full of forages ahead of us.
    Oh my!
    Kind of fun, actually.
    Think of it - much better place to be than having a single purchased nuc to be panicked about 24/7.
    Another day one such new beek here was panicky a little - he though he might have been queen-less because he had too many drones flying.
    Well, we got some bigger fish to fry, to worry of few flying drones.
    Last edited by GregV; 07-24-2019 at 08:05 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #258
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    So have 19 queen-right units to play with now, of various shapes and sizes.
    Way to go, GregV. That is a lot of queens, so it sounds like you have a lot of options for the next two months.

    Good job on the propagation efforts.

    Russ

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

    I met Troy Hall. He's TF and from mid NH. He had 300 large honey hives. He also has a mating yard with small hives. He overwinters mininucs. He said he looses 50% of the big hives and less of the nucs. It sounded like he was experienced and doing well. For good survival, the trick seems to be to winter lots of nucs. He gave a talk about his Michael Palmer style queen rearing. The queens were red and black (no brown or yellow). He said they were carni + a little Russian. He uses common foundation.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  21. #260
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    Default Re: GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

    interesting information about troy at the 'hall apiaries' website. i didn't provide a link because he is marketing his bees and honey on it.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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