Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ? - Page 77
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  1. #1521
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    Feb 2017
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    Northern Il, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    William:


    All-in-all, I think mite drop evaluations are a good introductory assessment of the total mite load in a colony. For me I started doing this as a 'go-no go' evaluation of whether I might expect a colony to survive the Winter and to gain some sense of mite load dynamics in a TF context. That said, I have observed that it does however suffer from two significant limitations:

    1. As previously noted, it gives you no indication of the actual infestation rate within the colony. It tells you how many mites fell to the bottom over a given period of observation, but gives you no idea of how this relates to the percentage of mites to bees in the colony.

    2. It suffers from a lack of repeatability- at least in contexts where the colony itself is taking active measures to remove phoretic mites (i.e. 'mite biting'). I'll follow-up with a post tomorrow outlining the results of a little experiment I have been conducting the last couple days that I think might help underscore this point.

    In summary, I think the mite drop counts are a useful tool, and certainly give you some idea of the number of mites in a given hive. But at the end of the day, the mite wash test remains the only sure-fire way that I know of to get a fairly accurate picture of the infestation rate- so I think you're wise to plan on executing one this Fall to make decisions by.

    Glad you chimed-in. Please always feel welcome to share your input.

    Russ
    I don't 100% agree with the above. Point one, that board counting doesn't give you an indication of the actual infection rate in the colony. It tells you how many mites actually fell. It does not tell you anything about capped cell mites, and gives you no hint about bee behaviors like grooming. It is a snapshot only, but a useful one if done consistently.

    I guess my main problem is the statement that mite washes are more accurate. That only tells you how many mites are present outside cells, physically attached to bees. A nice number but it gives you little idea of the colony-level mite numbers. To do that you need an idea of how much capped drone brood there is, and how badly infected it is. Ratio of drone brood to worker brood is critical info. If you check mite numbers and the number is very low, but there is a huge amount of capped drone brood present, the mite number is worse than useless, it's a lie. It tells you nothing about where in the mite cycle you are. Your hive can be severely infected but have low phoretic mites today. Next week when all those drones hatch your number would be crazily different.

    I guess my point is that no one number tells you much. Fall counts, alcohol counts, counts of mites in drone brood, all different numbers and all relevant. From a 'scientific' point of view, what matters is choosing a method and sticking to it consistently. Regularly doing fall counts or alcohol counts on a hive in a consistent manner, will show you the pattern of mite infestation as it rises and (hopefully) falls over the season. Once you have this information you can then observe the actual hive as a unit to get an idea if they are handling the mite load well or not.

    Point 2. I am interested to hear of your experiment!

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  3. #1522
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Jasper, Georgia, USA
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    77

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    William:

    All that said, I would be cautiously optimistic that you can remain TF based on your reported mite drop values and the fact that your colonies have come from stock that has been propagated TF
    That is reassuring. Both you and AR1 correct about no one number telling all. Just that a sticky board count is by far the easiest to do frequently. Alcohol wash requires suiting up, disturbing all the bees and killing 300. Want to do the drone brood count but my bees are not cooperating. Bought 6 of the Acorn green plastic frames (before I even had bees) one drawn, several partially drawn and nothing but syrup / nectar. Reluctant to yank out a mixed brood frame and start poking it with a fork.

    Was premature about the one hive kicking out all of its drones. Longer days and a shift in my work schedule was keeping me from seeing them. Nuc did kick most of its drones out. Witnessed this a few weeks ago, two workers tag teaming them out. Also was finding a few totally wingless drones crawling on the ground directly in front of the nuc. Scared me at first that it was severe DWV but read that they do sometimes rip wings off.

    Reminds me of something I have been meaning to share for months. A member of my local club witnessed an unusual drone eviction last fall. The workers were passing the drones off to baldfaced hornets! Very odd intra species cooperation as she said the hornets were totally ignoring workers as they waited.

  4. #1523
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
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    733

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by William Bagwell View Post
    That is reassuring. Both you and AR1 correct about no one number telling all. Just that a sticky board count is by far the easiest to do frequently. Alcohol wash requires suiting up, disturbing all the bees and killing 300. Want to do the drone brood count but my bees are not cooperating. Bought 6 of the Acorn green plastic frames (before I even had bees) one drawn, several partially drawn and nothing but syrup / nectar. Reluctant to yank out a mixed brood frame and start poking it with a fork.

    Reminds me of something I have been meaning to share for months. A member of my local club witnessed an unusual drone eviction last fall. The workers were passing the drones off to baldfaced hornets! Very odd intra species cooperation as she said the hornets were totally ignoring workers as they waited.
    4 years experience and one total collapse with 100% loss, so I know at least one way to kill bees. Not proven that I know how to keep them alive yet!

    I don't use drone frames. I just put a medium frame in the brood chamber beside the deep frames. The bees will usually draw drone comb under the lower edge in a nice even strip that is very easy to scrape off. They also put queen cells there so it's convenient to find them. I write 'SF' on the top bar so I can identify them without hunting around.

  5. #1524
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    2,011

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    I don't 100% agree with the above. Point one, that board counting doesn't give you an indication of the actual infection rate in the colony. It tells you how many mites actually fell. It does not tell you anything about capped cell mites, and gives you no hint about bee behaviors like grooming. It is a snapshot only, but a useful one if done consistently.
    AR1:

    Thank you for your reply. I think we might be saying the same thing in a different way. As a wise friend of mine here on Beesource once pointed out, mite drops suffer chiefly from lacking a denominator. I know how many mites dropped over a given period of time (and this is a useful metric), but based on this single variable I am unable to define an infestation rate because I am not simultaneously estimating how many bees are in the hive or how this drop relates to the internal dynamics of the hive (at least in isolation).

    I still think it is a very useful exercise- my only point is that by itself it may not tell the whole story... as I hope to outline in the next post.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  6. #1525
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    Jun 2018
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    I am interested to hear of your experiment!
    I have always been concerned that my initial success without treating might be unsustainable based on both anecdotes and research I have read- and the most recent recorded mite drops might be a foreshadowing of an inevitable collapse in the making.

    To summarize, this season I started with four (4) colonies which have overwintered twice and eight (8) colonies which have overwintered once. After numerous swarms, the current apiary count stands at twenty-eight (28). Of these 28, fourteen (14) are installed on screened bottom boards.

    Up to this point, I have never observed 48-hour mite drop totals much over thirty (30) at any point in the season.

    The most recent drops however were much higher overall, suggesting that mite populations in general are higher than they have been previously, possibly portending significant challenges this Fall.

    When exploring potential mechanisms which have lead to low mite population growth through the season, 'mite biting' has been evaluated.

    In connection with the recent mite drop results, mite biting was also evaluated as follows:

    #1803- 80%
    #1804- 40%
    #1907- 70%
    #1909- 60%
    #1910- 80%
    #1911- 90%
    #1912- 90%
    #2002- 40%
    #2003- 40%
    #2004- 70%
    #2005 (N)- N/A
    #2008- 20%
    #2013- 60%
    #2014 (N)- 50%

    The primary observation from these data:

    Mite biting percentage does not necessarily equate linearly to mite reproductive success- specifically:

    1. There are colonies which (as one might expect) have a lower mite biting percentage and a higher mite drop (i.e. #1804).

    2. There are colonies which have a lower mite biting percentage but also have a low mite drop (i.e. #1909).

    3. There are colonies which have a higher mite biting percentage but also have a high mite drop (i.e. #1910).

    So what is one to make of these data in conjunction? At this point I do not know.

    This exercise got me wondering as to whether mite drop totals are a consistent and repeatable measure for evaluation purposes, so I decided to record mite drops every twenty-four (24) hours for three (3) days and compare them to the previous recorded value for the three (3) hives with the highest mite counts (#1804, #1910 and #2002 respectively) as follows:

    Hive # / Initial Reading / June 27th / June 28th / June 29th / Initial Reading 24 Hour Average / Follow-Up 24 Hour Average

    #1804 / 75 / 15 / 22 / 17 / 38 / 18

    #1910 / 115 / 46 / 51 / 64 / 58 / 54

    #2002 / 70 / 43 / 45 / 47 / 35 / 45

    A larger dataset is no doubt in order, but it is interesting to see the difference both in the daily totals, the two-day totals and the average difference between any 48 hour period of evaluation.

    It is worth noting however that in 2 of the 3 hives the net effect is the same- 48 hour mite drop totals above 30.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  7. #1526
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by William Bagwell View Post
    Reminds me of something I have been meaning to share for months. A member of my local club witnessed an unusual drone eviction last fall. The workers were passing the drones off to baldfaced hornets! Very odd intra species cooperation as she said the hornets were totally ignoring workers as they waited.
    William:

    Thank you for your post- this is an interesting observation indeed- were they able to get any footage of this?
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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