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  1. #1181
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    I am generally more concerned with the Warre colonies than the Langstroth colonies and I am most concerned with #1905 in particular.

    This colony is a swarm caught on May 1st and while looking through the entrance openings I realized I have not been a good husbandman to them as they are housed in a stack of four boxes and they only have comb in the 1st and 3rd boxes and the cluster only occupies the 3rd box.

    So while I will make a point to consolidate them during a return to more seasonable temperatures next week, they are a small cluster which has not made appreciable gains this year and are short on stores.

    Do I:

    1. Combine them with another colony?

    2. Put some supplemental dry feed on them?

    3. Button them up and let them manage the best they can?
    I don’t have experience with Warre hives. I’d be cautious about interfering with their arrangement of the contents of the hive. It’s a bit of a risk depending on the cluster size and amount of stores, but if they haven’t done well enough since May 1st to survive winter, I’m not sure they add much to the gene pool. If they do survive without interference and flourish in the spring, you will know that you’ve got some frugal and robust bees. Risk and return.
    David Matlock

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  3. #1182
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    ... but if they haven’t done well enough since May 1st to survive winter, I’m not sure they add much to the gene pool. If they do survive without interference and flourish in the spring, you will know that you’ve got some frugal and robust bees. Risk and return.
    Great point, David. This is where experience comes into play and I find myself a bit strapped for it at the moment. Particularly in a TF context, how much intervention is too much? And is it situationally dependent?

    Up to this point I have not defined any absolutes regarding my beekeeping efforts other than not chemically treating nor manipulating the colonies for the expressed purpose of managing mite levels.

    If you don't mind sharing, what are your general precepts for evaluating incoming genetics to determine whether they have what it takes? And do these precepts make allowances for bad years, ill-timed swarms, etc.?

    Again, I sincerely appreciate your perspective- helps me to remember that the primary goal is not to save every colony at all costs.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  4. #1183
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    If you don't mind sharing, what are your general precepts for evaluating incoming genetics to determine whether they have what it takes? And do these precepts make allowances for bad years, ill-timed swarms, etc.?
    I do make allowances for bad years, mostly by trying to leave more honey than they should need. But our summer dearth is as bad or worse than our typical winter, at least for my frugal bees, because they have not had time to downsize their population. My thought is that if they have an extra fifteen pounds, that will not significantly reduce what they will gather, so you will continue to have that extra fifteen pounds. Particularly since you can add an empty box during a flow. Like if you have a forty gallon gas tank and always fill up your gas tank when you have half a tank left, you won’t use any more gas than if you had a twenty gallon tank and filled up when it’s near empty. It only “costs” you more the first time you filled it up. And you’re less likely to ever run out of gas. Does that make sense?

    I definitely make allowances for ill timed swarms by adding extra honey from a healthy hive. But I really am leery of ill timed swarms anyway, and generally don’t try to capture swarms or do cutouts in late summer or fall. That is based on my previous experiences. It would only come up for me if a late swarm wanders into a swarm trap.
    David Matlock

  5. #1184
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GWW, Fusion_Power and GregV:
    ....thinking through GregV's idea of putting a sheet of plastic above the eke ......
    You can always fold 1-2 corners of the plastic - thus creating an opening for the excessive moisture to escape (IF your config allows and IF you have the issue).
    But in general - moisture is the issue with large clusters.

    I use food-grade, freezer ZIP lock bags (1 gallon) - sliced open into a flat sheet.
    A good way to up-cycle the old bags (say, it got torn/punctured) - the "food-grade" property sounds re-assuring - freezer-grade plastic is a strong material.
    Does not need to be a complete seal either, just enough to trap some moisture into the sugar pile.

    FYI - last year I did loose a small cluster to moisture (to the point of that MC mound was NOT hard but rather a pile of loose and moist sugar - a bad symptom - the MC mound must harden and stay that way - by design). The real issue was - bulk water was entering the hive somehow - the major contributor there and my lack of care.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #1185
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    If you don't mind sharing, what are your general precepts for evaluating incoming genetics to determine whether they have what it takes?
    1. Put 'em in a hive. 2. Don't feed or treat. 3. Wait three years. 4. Look inside inside the box.
    David Matlock

  7. #1186
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    1. Put 'em in a hive. 2. Don't feed or treat. 3. Wait three years. 4. Look inside inside the box.
    +1 simplicity is at times the best approach. had to chuckle.

  8. #1187
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    1. Put 'em in a hive. 2. Don't feed or treat. 3. Wait three years. 4. Look inside inside the box.
    Darn thing - I still need to feed!
    I will forgive myself though - no ferals around me to help out.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #1188
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    1. Put 'em in a hive. 2. Don't feed or treat. 3. Wait three years. 4. Look inside inside the box.
    David:

    Now this is a strategy that even I can understand!


    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    I do make allowances for bad years, mostly by trying to leave more honey than they should need. But our summer dearth is as bad or worse than our typical winter, at least for my frugal bees, because they have not had time to downsize their population. My thought is that if they have an extra fifteen pounds, that will not significantly reduce what they will gather, so you will continue to have that extra fifteen pounds. Particularly since you can add an empty box during a flow. Like if you have a forty gallon gas tank and always fill up your gas tank when you have half a tank left, you won’t use any more gas than if you had a twenty gallon tank and filled up when it’s near empty. It only “costs” you more the first time you filled it up. And you’re less likely to ever run out of gas. Does that make sense?

    I definitely make allowances for ill timed swarms by adding extra honey from a healthy hive. But I really am leery of ill timed swarms anyway, and generally don’t try to capture swarms or do cutouts in late summer or fall. That is based on my previous experiences. It would only come up for me if a late swarm wanders into a swarm trap.
    In all seriousness, I do appreciate your helpful input and your feedback makes good intuitive sense to me. I still have a long way to go in learning what allowances (if any) should be made in the various situations that come up.

    To this point, I have likely erred to the side of being overly gracious to first-year swarms under the assumption that it is difficult to get established.

    That said, your admonition not to coddle them is sound, particularly when one is trying to promote resilient genetics.

    So much to learn... thanks again for the advice.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  10. #1189
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    You can always fold 1-2 corners of the plastic - thus creating an opening for the excessive moisture to escape (IF your config allows and IF you have the issue).
    But in general - moisture is the issue with large clusters.
    Thank you for the helpful feedback, GregV. I am going to ruminate on this idea some more, but it seems like a good idea to try.

    If nothing else, I want to learn how to have a more experimenting spirit like you do- so this seems like a low risk opportunity to attempt something different.

    Thanks again-

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  11. #1190
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Thank you for the helpful feedback, GregV. I am going to ruminate on this idea some more, but it seems like a good idea to try.

    If nothing else, I want to learn how to have a more experimenting spirit like you do- so this seems like a low risk opportunity to attempt something different.

    Thanks again-

    Russ
    Just make as many bees as possible next year.
    Then experiment away.
    You will kill only so many...
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #1191
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    You will kill only so many...
    Certainly true... but at heart I am still a 'tinker around the edges' kind of guy so I want to:

    1. Be convinced there is a logical scientific basis for trying something.

    2. Have a control group to compare the results to.

    That said, I've learned that sometimes it is detrimental (or at least sub-optimal) to be too cautious as well.

    So like most things in life, I am discovering that with beekeeping there are many situations where there is just no substitute to experience (good or ill).

    Thanks again for the input.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  13. #1192
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Certainly true... but at heart I am still a 'tinker around the edges' kind of guy so I want to:

    1. Be convinced there is a logical scientific basis for trying something.

    2. Have a control group to compare the results to.

    That said, I've learned that sometimes it is detrimental (or at least sub-optimal) to be too cautious as well.

    So like most things in life, I am discovering that with beekeeping there are many situations where there is just no substitute to experience (good or ill).

    Thanks again for the input.

    Russ
    Good luck, Russ, looking for some solid "logical scientific basis"; moreover to actually depend on it.


    Time and again, I am finding how our brilliant researchers lack knowledge of some encyclopedia-level facts and common sense observations (and yet make rocket-science level conclusions).
    As for me - I am back to re-reading the kids' books.

    Basically, you can do your own science on the empirical level (the same as the notoriously criticized "black box" - that's the empirical level).
    Why not.

    Back home, I was already mocked a bit by the local experts for finding a sample of non-floral honey in my own backyard - because it is NOT possible in my area per the "science" (I was told).
    You know - I used my kids' chemical lab kit to get that AND Everclear bottle from Walmart in place of lab-grade alcohol.
    And so let the "scientists" do the "science" I was told.

    Btw, some of the same local beekeeping experts also sheepishly refuse to publicly tell their bee survival #s for the winter 2019.
    Why not?
    My #s are always public; I don't care.

    Whatever.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #1193
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    My #s are always public; I don't care.
    I'm with you on this GregV. Win-Lose-or-Draw, I think we all benefit by sharing what works, what doesn't, and trends we see in our apiaries as a means to disseminate information that might be helpful in unlocking whether (and if so, when) TF regimes show particular promise in various settings.

    The beauty of the scientific method in my opinion is that one has to make a hypothesis, test it, assess repeat-ability and then subject their parameters, methods and results to public scrutiny (at least in an academic setting). So I say test-away. Should you (or anyone else for that matter) develop outcomes which depart from a study in question, it just serves as a reminder that we are often unable to identify all the variables that make for a cohesive whole.

    Based on what I've read (a lot) and experienced for myself (a little) it seems that success in a TF context in particular is a multi-faceted thing that no-doubt involves a few variables that are at least under the beekeeper's indirect control and maybe a whole lot that are not.

    This is the part that makes the TF experiment fun to me- trying to figure out if it can be done and if so, what does it look like (at least in my yard)?
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  15. #1194
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    I'm with you on this GregV. Win-Lose-or-Draw, I think we all benefit by sharing what works, what doesn't, and trends we see in our apiaries as a means to disseminate information that might be helpful in unlocking whether (and if so, when) TF regimes show particular promise in various settings.

    The beauty of the scientific method in my opinion...........?
    I guess my issue is this - where do you draw a line between the empirical science (the black box) and the "scientific?" (looking for the proper word here) science (the white box).

    I don't believe many understand or care of the difference; or even simply looking down at the empirical science as if something left behind in 19th century and not worthy.

    All the while the onions peels keep coming off and the "ultimate and final, and statistically proved knowledge" of today turns out just another empirical conclusion or observation (without really understanding the internals or outright wrong).

    I suppose as long as we don't publish papers and claim some discoveries to our names, what do we care?
    Hey, did you get that microscope?
    I forgot.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #1195
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Russ
    I say that testing with things like your small hive really don't need any scientific value put to them. It was just a thing that was left like it was left at the time it was left and with nothing to really lose no matter the outcome. It might work or not this time and be different next but really causes no change in your situation either way it goes.

    If the other hives are similar, they the chance of having similar outcomes come spring. If one of the others dies but some live, it will be for a different reason then you added or did not add bees to them.

    If the small hive does live, it would show nothing except that it is possible. If it dies, it was probably meant to be.

    I really don't see a change in your status come spring and you really were left with what you were left with and will probably be left with again in years to come. Next time you might combine and then split in spring. Abby warre in his book said that if you measured winter clusters, you would find very little difference in cluster size and so if you combine, the hive might naturally slim down anyway. I don't know if abby is right on this but figure in my mind that you really don't need to learn from being left like you were. Hope is eternal and a spring surprise would be nice though.

    The one thing that might be learned though is why the hive ended up the size it did. On my small hive that never built up, I am almost sure that the other hives were robbing it the whole time they were trying to grow. Why they were weak enough that that could happen, I have not figured out though. There is always next year to learn more though.
    I am just gabbing though.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  17. #1196
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I suppose as long as we don't publish papers and claim some discoveries to our names, what do we care?
    Hey, did you get that microscope?
    I forgot.
    Good post, GregV. This is strictly my opinion, but I think both approaches have their place and that most of us fall on the continuum between pure experimental science and applied science- and both can (and do) yield valuable observations.

    Again, just my opinion but it seems to me what makes bee research so hard is not only the fact that one is studying the dynamics of a superorganism, but also it is difficult (if not impossible) to have one foot planted in academia and another in the practical management of honeybees for profit.

    I expect this is why folks like Randy Oliver are so highly respected- he seems to be able to remain on the cutting-edge of both pursuits.

    That said, I expect that if you come up with bomb-proof genetics that laugh at varroa, you can work with flip-flops on and a beer in one hand, never swarm and produce 100+ pounds of surplus honey every year, you won't need to write any research papers to be noticed and relevant.

    Tongue-in-cheek, of course but noting there is more than one approach to being relevant in the beekeeping discussion but it will always go back to being able to perform.

    So, for now I will keep being a 'black box' beekeeper but will also try to take advantage of any tools (i.e. a microscope) which might yield some clues as to what is going on inside the box.

    On that topic, I did get the microscope and messed with it a bit. My next mite tray renewal I scheduled for around Christmastime, so I will make a point of taking some pictures and hanging them up here then.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  18. #1197
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    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    Russ
    I say that testing with things like your small hive really don't need any scientific value put to them.

    ...

    I am just gabbing though.
    GWW:

    Great observations- I can't argue with anything you said. I am impressed with how well you are able to recall all these things you have read. I expect it is at least in part this excellent accumulation and retreaval of information that makes you such a successful beekeeper.

    Regarding scientific value- I agree with you, and maybe what I should have said is that I always want to be purposeful in the decisions I make so that I am best-prepared to learn from them.

    As an example- if we take it as a given that a small cluster should not (in general) experience a condensate problem while overwintering in my climate, I add the plastic assuming that it might- make no difference, slightly increase the moisture accumulation or significantly increase moisture retention to the point that the hive fails on this point. No matter what happens, I am trying to think in my mind how would I observe what is going on so I can determine whether adding the plastic is worth evaluating further in the future.

    Just as an example...

    Now I am blabbing, but I suppose we beekeepers can afford to wax esoteric when we can't be in the hives.

    Besides, I am getting tired of cutting and splitting firewood!

    Thanks again for your input. It is most appreciated.

    Russ

    p.s. You are exactly right that I should get to the bottom of why this particular colony didn't thrive this season. My excuse is that they are in one of the Warre hives with top bars only and I for one have yet to figure out how to do a through inspection of one without butchering it in the process. So I have contented myself by leaving them 'semi-hermetic'. Not at all sure this is going to be a workable solution in the long-run.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  19. #1198
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    russ
    p.s. You are exactly right that I should get to the bottom of why this particular colony didn't thrive this season. My excuse is that they are in one of the Warre hives with top bars only and I for one have yet to figure out how to do a through inspection of one without butchering it in the process. So I have contented myself by leaving them 'semi-hermetic'. Not at all sure this is going to be a workable solution in the long-run.
    This is exactly the reason that I let my small warre die and did not intercede in any way. I was never sure till the end that the bees even had a queen due to not being able to look well enough. So I did not add nurse bees to try and help them and mostly just watched their progress by tipping and seeing how they progressed in comb building. I was surprised they made it as far as they did cause I was sure they were dead long before they died. I will say that now that I have just enough hives that I think I might survive most things and still end up with bees, I will probably let what happens happen if I ever put more bees in the warre again.

    I am still interested in using the warre if it is the easiest way to hive a swarm or something (say just sitting there and me being to lazy to carry a lang down).
    I really do not see anything wrong with putting some bees in the warre and then letting them do their own thing till they die with me just stealing the honey. I don't think that I would be interested in truly managing them or supporting them while I have bees in the langs cause the langs are just easier to "keep" bees in. I could have tried harder to save the warre but had langs and so why? Still, If I have enough bees, I do not feel bad of letting a warre do what it does.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  20. #1199
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Good post, GregV. This is strictly my opinion, ......
    On that topic, I did get the microscope and messed with it a bit. My next mite tray renewal I scheduled for around Christmastime, so I will make a point of taking some pictures and hanging them up here then.
    All good!
    As long as we keep the sense of humor and don't pretend to have discovered a flaw in E=Mc^2, what do we care?

    Let me repeat myself - have been slowly working through the recently purchased book of TS (The Life of the Honeybee....).
    What can I say - I am torn.
    TS: You publish books and you pretend to be an international expert and I like some of your ideas/works - and yet - I immediately find funny and strange claims/factoids/ambiguities in your books that I will strongly question, directly from my lowly couch. Now that is annoying.... I am talking of a well known researcher here.

    Russ, can not wait for those microscope images.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #1200
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    russ
    ....
    I really do not see anything wrong with putting some bees in the warre and then letting them do their own thing till they die with me just stealing the honey. .....
    Cheers
    gww
    Now, this is my favorite way!
    Near zero inputs - lots of output!
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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