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  1. #1361
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Gray Goose:

    Good update. I apologize for the delay in reply as I have been away from the computer. I laughed out loud as I read the above, and I do appreciate your report on your first pass at applying a propolis coating to new equipment. At least based on the visual result, I imagine this will make for better acceptance by the bees.

    As I have thought through the method of application further, I am going to attempt to strain the tincture first and then add additional grain alcohol to it to make it the consistency of hairspray and then use a spritzer bottle to apply it to the interior of hive surfaces, etc.

    Also, good advice about making sure to get the exterior painting completed first before treating the interior...
    Spraying a filtered tincture should work fine. Diluting should also offer a greater coverage area. I now have a second batch dissolving and plan to coat some decoy hive interiors. I have found 2 dead outs here in my yard and 6 up north in the northern yard, So old comb and empty boxes will not be an issue this spring. So far for the winter started with 22 down 8 to 14 remaining. most of them appear to be mite dead outs. getting old to have every year be a recovery year. I may need to go to the dark side, not sure.
    GG

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  3. #1362
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    So far for the winter started with 22 down 8 to 14 remaining. most of them appear to be mite dead outs. getting old to have every year be a recovery year. I may need to go to the dark side, not sure.
    GG
    GG,

    I hope you will keep on going. I'm at about 2/3 survival rate in my own yard the last couple of years. That is about the same rate as yours.

    The bright spot is finding one line of bees that keeps on going. I have one line of bees that is now 6/7 over the last two winters. A mentee beekeeper is now 2/2 last year, and 3/3 this year with that line of bees.

    Find the good ones and breed from them.

    What survival rate would you consider acceptable?

  4. #1363
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by clong View Post
    GG,

    I hope you will keep on going. I'm at about 2/3 survival rate in my own yard the last couple of years. That is about the same rate as yours.

    The bright spot is finding one line of bees that keeps on going. I have one line of bees that is now 6/7 over the last two winters. A mentee beekeeper is now 2/2 last year, and 3/3 this year with that line of bees.

    Find the good ones and breed from them.

    What survival rate would you consider acceptable?
    Acceptable I would think is 50% or greater. I think I am able to split each survivor to make it back hive count wise. However the split does affect the Honey production so At some point, I am just spinning the wheels, create , loose, create, loose. The winter is not done yet so this is just a first look, 2 yards I have not been to at all. I really hope the better bee will emerge but, some need to survive or this cannot even be done. I did note the 3 surviving out of 9 up north all had a brood break, As they were splits I had created. Maybe adding in a brood break to more hives would help, at some point the extra time it takes starts to be an issue as well. 2/3 surviving, I could do that, would put 1/3 into production ,and 1/3 into splitting. we will see, I have 3 somewhat promising lines. A feral swarm from last summer, looking really good, the 3 survivors are all the same line up north,, and the parent and 4 of 6 F1 daughters are also still going down here. So those lines, will be the targets of my attention this spring. Also am thinking of a late split Mel D type where I pull the honey early then split prior to winter, in Aug. Every loss so far is 1.5 year or older queens, so get more young queens and do more brood breaks. 5 of the 6 dead outs up north were 3 deeps, so the big ones do not seem to have an advantage, may as well make 2 medium size, out of those and see if that helps... Do have some ideas but cleaning out the nice producing hives is getting to be a bummer.
    GG

  5. #1364
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    I may need to go to the dark side, not sure.
    Gray Goose:

    First off, I am sorry to hear that your overwintering efforts have been disappointing thus far.

    I do hope you are able to find a strategy that allows you to keep bees without treatments and still have an acceptable return on your investment.

    That said, I would certainly understand if you ultimately determined that some sort of chemical intervention might be required in your situation. In such a case, I would expect that your TF efforts will provide you some unique perspective as to how to approach the treatment regime.

    If nothing else, you could adopt the Randy Oliver model of carefully monitoring mite levels, treating only when necessary and breeding from the colonies which exhibit the most resistance promise year-over-year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    Every loss so far is 1.5 year or older queens, so get more young queens and do more brood breaks.
    Alternatively, I recently watched a fascinating video from the National Honey Show (that I hope to summarize soon) which addressed studies of the efficacy of shook swarming, trapping and queen caging as alternative varroa management strategies. In short, when done correctly it suggested one might achieve results which are materially similar to standard chemical interventions.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  6. #1365
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Several new videos have been posted from the recently concluded 'National Honey Show' which are directly applicable to the general approach and ethos of local adaptation and its' implications for colony success.

    On this theme, Mr. Jo Widdicombe, current President of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA) presents a talk entitled, 'The Principles of Bee Improvement':

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p0zjZDgCJY

    It should be noted at the outset that Mr. Widdicombe comes from the perspective of an unabashed proponent of improvement and preservation of the remaining native British bee genetics, but his talk is more generally describing both the benefits and mechanics of local adaptation, couched in his own experience with AMM. His overarching message is thus:

    Natural selection is one part of the story (survival), but artificial selection is the other part of the story (beneficial traits). Our efforts need to strike a balance between diversity and homogeneity to produce a population of bees which are both hearty and productive. He defines this paradigm thus, "A community of bees should be sufficiently out-bred to be vigorous and disease-free, but sufficiently in-bred to remain true to type."

    He also makes the point (that MSL has already made many times) that breeder queens are key to our improvement efforts- not only as the base for your future queens but also for the drone mothers they become.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  7. #1366
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    Acceptable I would think is 50% or greater. I think I am able to split each survivor to make it back hive count wise. However the split does affect the Honey production so At some point, I am just spinning the wheels, create , loose, create, loose.
    GG
    Just my opinion, and a not very experienced one, but I wonder if that's just where we are and will stay? Treatment free is going to face higher losses than an experienced treating beekeeper will. The big guys can't risk the losses financially and simply have to treat. The one-two-hive guys have to treat or buy a new hive most every year. No choice either way and that ain't going to change.

    Looking for space in between for the guy with 5-50 hives. Can we find a workable, reliable system that consistently allows us to enjoy our hobby and make enough honey to keep our spouses happy :-)? Without buying replacement bees every year or two?

    Last year I started (restarted!) with one swarm in May and split to 5 hives by September. 4 remain alive, one starved out. Plan for this year is to split the surviving colonies and get 15-20. Winter with a bunch of these in nucs or smallish colonies and repeat, aiming for 20 going into winter, consistently.

    I can stand 50% losses as a hobbyist. Hopefully that is a bad year, and have significantly better results most years. So, splitting hard, making plenty of replacements, multiple brood breaks in at least some colonies that I hope to winter, and a few colonies allowed to grow and make honey.

    To that end I am spending the winter making 5-frame deep nucs. I have 15. Along with my deep and medium boxes I can get to my 20, all going well.

    I am not anticipating any giant gains from genetics to change this calculation. Big guys will treat, little guys will get washed out, and hobbyists will be stuck in the middle having to come up with a program, treatment or not, that keeps the enjoyment in the hobby.

  8. #1367
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Gray Goose:

    First off, I am sorry to hear that your overwintering efforts have been disappointing thus far.

    I do hope you are able to find a strategy that allows you to keep bees without treatments and still have an acceptable return on your investment.

    That said, I would certainly understand if you ultimately determined that some sort of chemical intervention might be required in your situation. In such a case, I would expect that your TF efforts will provide you some unique perspective as to how to approach the treatment regime.

    If nothing else, you could adopt the Randy Oliver model of carefully monitoring mite levels, treating only when necessary and breeding from the colonies which exhibit the most resistance promise year-over-year.



    Alternatively, I recently watched a fascinating video from the National Honey Show (that I hope to summarize soon) which addressed studies of the efficacy of shook swarming, trapping and queen caging as alternative varroa management strategies. In short, when done correctly it suggested one might achieve results which are materially similar to standard chemical interventions.
    Hi Russ.
    So for this comment "I do hope you are able to find a strategy that allows you to keep bees without treatments and still have an acceptable return on your investment." My "beeding" Apiary of 9 is down to 3 , and we have a month to go yet prior to any nice weather. So I am thinking I will have 2 hives remain.
    I have to face that these are likely the "lucky" 2 as these last 3 had the brood break while the others did not. I see other TF keepers are "grafting" from 2 year old survivor queens. So the reality I face is I have Zero 2 year old queens in the breeding yard , A mile or 2 from this yard a new "bee club" has formed. I may go there to see where they are getting bees from but the influx of new bees apparently changed my land scape. I have some bees left but all are 8 month old queens from summer splits. As far as return on Investment This "hobby" has been a loss for several years running, IE there is no return. So I am up against buying bees which I really do not like or killing mites. The infamous rock and a hard place.
    So I understand the brood break, shook swarm, queen trapping, drone brood removal, and several other operations, but at some level this IS "treatment" And if I go there then to me OAV in the fall to get from 30-50% survival to 75% in not conceptually different. Fortunately I now have several places where I have bees so I plan to do different things at different yards, At least I can eliminate the buying of bees every year. Coming up with TF stock, we will need to wait and see. The far yards will be TF due to the travel time so I will have a proving ground. But to play at all one does need live bees. I appreciate your input and do enjoy reading your posts
    GG

  9. #1368
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    GG; I haven't followed every twist and turn here, so I might be asking what is already answered. Do you feel you are getting a high influx of other keepers mites in your locations? If so that is starting you off with a disadvantage that may be hard to overcome. I think isolation is at least partially an enabling factor in most truly treatment free experiences.

    Just being in a far tougher wintering geography tilts the playing field for you too. Big difference in having ability to survive two months winter with the mites compared to needing a four or five month survivor bee. I think it is not the cold per se but the length of mite exposure time without replacement brood. More damage to the fat body reserves that the nurse bees need to produce the first rounds of do or die brood for the new season.

    Optimism for the development of local adaptation has to be within the realm of the possible.
    Frank

  10. #1369
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    GG; I haven't followed every twist and turn here, so I might be asking what is already answered. Do you feel you are getting a high influx of other keepers mites in your locations? If so that is starting you off with a disadvantage that may be hard to overcome. I think isolation is at least partially an enabling factor in most truly treatment free experiences.

    Just being in a far tougher wintering geography tilts the playing field for you too. Big difference in having ability to survive two months winter with the mites compared to needing a four or five month survivor bee. I think it is not the cold per se but the length of mite exposure time without replacement brood. More damage to the fat body reserves that the nurse bees need to produce the first rounds of do or die brood for the new season.

    Optimism for the development of local adaptation has to be within the realm of the possible.
    You got it correct. "within the realm of the possible" Seems a lot of new keepers in the area. It Was Isolated so I had some initial good results. The dead outs I have processed so far are Mite filled. So with the long winter , it is a somewhat double whammy. really depends on what is left in the spring. If the last 3 perish, I may just leave that place set, till mid summer , no use bringing in more bees if the yard already has mites in a couple stragglers.
    GG

  11. #1370
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    I appreciate your input...
    Gray Goose:

    The feeling is mutual, and I have learned much from your helpful input along the way. Thank you.

    I do appreciate the genetic situation you are in and I am certain I would (and maybe will?) consider implementing many of the strategies you are discussing if I were (or find myself) in your shoes.

    I suppose the only other option you could consider would be the importation of close-mated queens and a strategy of regular queen renewals until the prospect of a resistant genetic base manifests itself?

    Regardless, I do hope you will continue to have the luxury of experimenting with various treatment and/or chemical-free approaches to see if there is a sustainable approach that will work both in your area and in support of your management goals.

    Also, I depend upon you to keep me from running off the rails down here, so I do hope you will continue to post your experienced insights when I am planning on doing something ill-advised!
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #1371
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    I will deal next with Brother Adam's thoughts on whether the honeybee could be successfully bred for varroa resistance.
    In a 1991 American Bee Journal article entitled 'An Inescapable Challenge', Brother Adam looked into the future of bee breeding and concluded, "On the basis of the findings and experience gained in breeding the honey bee since 1916; also the knowledge acquired to the genetic possibilities at hand, I feel confident that in the course of time a honey bee fully and effectively resistant to the Varroa mite can be developed."

    He based this assertion on at least two tenants:

    1. Biological lifeforms in general demonstrate internal genetic mechanisms and adaptive responses to external pressure which promote survival.

    Brother Adam notes, “It is now generally recognized that breeding plays a determining role in the fight against disease in both the animal and plant world.” [p. 66]

    2. His own experiences with the tracheal mite gave first-hand experience with the genetic possibilities for disease resistance.

    “I have no hesitation in setting out my experiences about the possibility of breeding as a means of combating disease.” [p. 68]

    Succinctly, Brother Adam saw careful selective breeding as the key to unlocking latent genetic responses to the varroa mite. He hypophorically observes:

    “Is it possible to combat diseases of the honeybee by means of selective breeding? I am able to give an unqualified affirmative.” [p. 76]
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  13. #1372
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    GG
    Concentrate on what you already know.

    1) Brood Breaks. in general have some benefit. in good years seems that large % of folks with bees can get by just performing a break. Downside is that the mite cycle does usually catch up and eventually takes out a good % of bees if this is the only strategy in use.

    i'd say experiment with 2 breaks and see how it goes. i have done so a little and didnt see initial benefit. BUT wouldnt write it off until i had done it over many seasons with a substantial colony count.

    one natural downside of 2 breaks is that one can end up occurring in fall. i do have lots of experience with august/september mated queens and none of that is good. but if thats the only way you can keep them alive you may still want to do it


    2) young queens generally win the mite war relative to older queens. i only look to keep a percentage after the 2nd winter as drone mothers or breeders. it probably would make sense to keep larger % of older ones for a gene selection pool but when the options are limited by equipment resources i've found it more useful to keep the young ones as you know they will survive at high rate given they were made into nuc and got that brood break.

    3) its only getting tougher and tougher to find isolation. the colony count has become pretty high in the state. even if you can straddle the areas where the big outfits are, there is someone with a backyard package behind every tree. if you dont have the colony count to get some control on your environment, you probably gotta concentrate on constant addition of known quantities like your russians.

  14. #1373
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    I recently had the opportunity to watch the excellent four-part video series currently being discussed over on MSL’s A Shift in Message?thread.

    Mr. Ralph Büchler, Director of the bee research department at the Bee Institute in Kirchhain, Germany presents a broad-reaching and biologically-driven treatise on selection for varroa resistance.

    While I can’t hope to do the videos any justice in a single post, here are a few of the most thought-provoking concepts presented in each video:

    Varroa Resistance Characters and Selection Protocols (Part 1 of 4)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwuR3uMkMF0&t=2231s

    1. Bee breeding approach and management concept have to go hand-in-hand.

    2. Resistance is not a single character response. It is much more complex (attached image).

    3. The most important factors are likely behavioral (i.e. hygienic responses).

    4. The single-most important factor may be SMR (suppressed mite reproduction). Mite reproductive success is on average 80-90% in standard stock and 50-60% in resistant stock.

    Environmental Adaptation of Honey Bees (Part 2 of 4)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DVm_L7Fkqc

    1. Local adaptation is crucial (2x better survival than imported stock).

    2. Colony health and vitality should be top selection criteria.

    3. The beekeeper is the single-most important environmental factor.

    Sustainable Varroa Management (Part 3 of 4)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuJlgzcQWAg&t=7s

    1. A 10% brood infestation is the threshold where it becomes critical to most colonies.

    2. Appropriately-timed artificial brood breaks showed statistically-equal varroa control efficacy as compared to standard chemical paradigms. Side-by-side mite development graphs are presented starting at the 53:00 mark.

    3. Colonies with inherent resistance in non-treated settings have an outsized impact on the regional gene pool due to their ability to successfully raise healthy drones.

    Understanding Bee Colony Biology (Part 4 of 4)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mC9R1e-tn4

    1. A healthy colony left to its own devices might produce 2 queens in a year versus 20,000 drones- natural selection is impelled by drones.

    2. Disease is the main driver of selection.

    3. Colony health is not defined by the absence of disease but rather by a stable balance.

    4. Our management efforts should seek to support disease antagonists (i.e. bacteria and other parasites) which co-exist symbiotically with honeybees.

    Complex Resistance Background.jpg
    Last edited by Litsinger; 02-07-2020 at 12:49 PM.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  15. #1374
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlackBirds View Post
    GG
    Concentrate on what you already know.

    1) Brood Breaks. in general have some benefit. in good years seems that large % of folks with bees can get by just performing a break. Downside is that the mite cycle does usually catch up and eventually takes out a good % of bees if this is the only strategy in use.

    i'd say experiment with 2 breaks and see how it goes. i have done so a little and didnt see initial benefit. BUT wouldnt write it off until i had done it over many seasons with a substantial colony count.

    one natural downside of 2 breaks is that one can end up occurring in fall. i do have lots of experience with august/september mated queens and none of that is good. but if thats the only way you can keep them alive you may still want to do it


    2) young queens generally win the mite war relative to older queens. i only look to keep a percentage after the 2nd winter as drone mothers or breeders. it probably would make sense to keep larger % of older ones for a gene selection pool but when the options are limited by equipment resources i've found it more useful to keep the young ones as you know they will survive at high rate given they were made into nuc and got that brood break.

    3) its only getting tougher and tougher to find isolation. the colony count has become pretty high in the state. even if you can straddle the areas where the big outfits are, there is someone with a backyard package behind every tree. if you dont have the colony count to get some control on your environment, you probably gotta concentrate on constant addition of known quantities like your russians.
    BBB you are on target on every point.
    1)All of what is left for me this year, had a major brood break, most were splits waiting on a Queen to hatch and mate.
    2)This year unlike last year, every once wintered queen is gone, only the new ones are left, Last 2 or 3 winters I have had similar survival rates for 1.5 year old and .5 year old queens. I have used the 2 year surviving queen to split from as I had hoped they were "better" I was looking at long life as a good trait
    3)Isolation ,,That is the truth, more back yard keepers popping up every year.

    I watched the presentation of Ralph Büchler at the England meeting and , seems some things to try around the brood breaks. (3 of 4)
    So In your opinion what is the issues with the late Queen mating, prevalence of package Drones or the lack of flow , heat ?
    In michigan what is the last week you use for "mating" before the quality starts to dip?
    Thanks for the comments
    GG

  16. #1375
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Thanks Russ for the cliff notes, hopefully enough of a tease to prompt folks to watch
    I would recommend folks just watch them with an open mind, some bee characteristics , built up for centuries are discussed and the way to "work in Harmony" with the natural cycle, Might be,, not allowing the swarming,, is "Treatment"
    Do take the time to watch.

    GG

  17. #1376
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    i think its not having enough appropriate age drones. maybe result of the dearth periods in summer when they curtail drone production? but just speculation on my part.

    to me the dip seems to start in august but by time hit late august i really dont want to be in position of needing to keep anything mated then. however, if it was what needed to do to winter, could make it work.

  18. #1377

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Also, pages 407 and 408 of the book 'Bee Genetics and Breeding' (Edited by Thomas E. Rinderer), there is a good discussion of the use of both Line Breeding and Hybrid Breeding in the Carnica and the Buckfast:
    He quotes Rothenbuhler on page 408:
    "Any stock improvement program that is expected to give practical results for beekeeping industries must have three components:
    - field tests under natural conditions
    - geneticists making genetic decisions
    - commercial production of the improved stock."


    VSH breeders must evaluate their work "under natural conditions", that is: without treatments.





    P.S.
    I got my book from Amazon some time ago and was just wondering because it is a library book. Is it common practice to make some kind of markings when a book is removed from library use? In Finland they always get stamped "removed from library use". In this copy there is nothing? Or am I holding stolen property?
    The W.R. Banks Library Prairie View A&M University Libraries, Prairie View Texas TI446
    Last edited by Juhani Lunden; 02-13-2020 at 12:38 PM. Reason: geneticist not genetic

  19. #1378
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Yes, but the TF "field test" is very, very common among TF beekeepers....
    the other 2 points on the list are what is holding things back.
    genetics making genetic decisions
    the quote should read "geneticists making genetic decisions" geneticists as in people, "The hand of Man" as Brother Adam put it
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  20. #1379
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    He quotes Rothenbuhler on page 408:
    "Any stock improvement program that is expected to give practical results for beekeeping industries must have three components:
    - field tests under natural conditions
    - genetics making genetic decisions
    - commercial production of the improved stock."


    VSH breeders must evaluate their work "under natural conditions", that is: without treatments.





    P.S.
    I got my book from Amazon some time ago and was just wondering because it is a library book. Is it common practice to make some kind of markings when a book is removed from library use? In Finland they always get stamped "removed from library use". In this copy there is nothing? Or am I holding stolen property?
    The W.R. Banks Library Prairie View A&M University Libraries, Prairie View Texas TI446
    Juhani, You could call the library and ask, if stolen send it back, read it first IMO. Many data and books are online now, in general Libraries are winding down. At times Estates offer the book collections from folks who passed away to libraries. In a time segment say 1 year, all books not checked out from the donation are auctioned off. Libraries have space constraints. Some one buys a pallet of books and doles them out on Amazon for a few buck each. I would think it is a common practice to mark the book but who knows , good help is hard to find......
    GG

  21. #1380
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    I am curious what has been happening with breeder material in recent times on vsh bees. i know the history of how they got to current point but i'm guessing a certain percentage are following along field tests line but part are likely also being selected under laboratory conditions.

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