Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ? - Page 3
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  1. #41
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    Clong:

    I am really glad you replied. I have seen many of your posts here, and I have learned a lot from some of the questions you've asked- they've helped lessen the learning curve.

    The supplemental feeding bit is not a hill I'm ready to die on yet (or maybe ever) but I am fascinated by the dynamic inter-relationship that forage availability, reserve stores and overall hive volume have on brooding in general, and early season in specific.

    I do not have any answers, but my hypothesis (o.k. my guess) at this point is that significantly reduced breeding during summer dearth along with timely supercedure might be part of the adaption which allows colonies to combat varroa on their own- just speculating.

    If this is true, continued feeding through a dearth might mask forage scarcity and seek to mitigate brood reduction... just a working theory.

    That said, you have more experience at this, and I welcome you to share your thoughts anytime.

    Thanks again for your post.

    Russ
    Last edited by Litsinger; 12-14-2018 at 08:29 AM.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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  3. #42
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    ...we've re-invented our methods of keeping bees alive in Northern Wisconsin with that emphasis alone.
    nice to see you chiming in db. if you have time please consider starting a thread and letting us know more about that story. it would be great to have some reporting coming in from the far north.
    'no wise man has the power to reason away what a fool believes' - the doobies

  4. #43
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    The final fundamental management decision I made in this first year of my return to beekeeping was to adhere to the idea of Housel positioning of the frames. I understand that this idea is old-hat to those who have been keeping bees for any length of time, but the idea is to place your embossed foundation within each frame such that the imprinted 'Y' in the bottom of the cell is always oriented to the outboard side of the box. In other words, if you are looking down on a box from above, there is an imaginary center-line running the length of the box, and the 'Y''s are up to the left and the right respectively of this division line. As I understand it, this approach is intended to mimic how a colony will construct their comb in an unmanaged setting.

    From a practical standpoint, I realized quickly that I had to install the foundation prior to marking the frames due to the fact that I was running wedge top bars with solid grooved bottom bars and wired foundation, and there seemed to be no consistency in which way the hooks were bent relative to the way the cells were imprinted.

    After a year of using Housel positioning, I've been unable to conclude whether it is beneficial or not- one thing I do know, is that when I have cycled-in foundationless frames into a hive with Housel positioning maintained, it does not appear that the foundationless frames have been explicitly drawn-out to adhere to the paradigm.

    All that said, at this point I am of the opinion that Housel positioning could be filed in the "Can't Hurt" category, and here is my rationale:

    It seems that there is generally consensus on the overall understanding that colonies organize their volume based on some fairly-well defined fundamentals (i.e. placement of pollen/bee-bread, stores, drones, etc.) and that nurse bees seem to have a fairly narrow geographic footprint within the colony where they work. More directly, when left to their own devices, colonies have a definite opinion about how to organize their home.

    Having the frames marked at least helps me make sure I put the frame back into the box in the same orientation that I took it out, and it seems logical to me that this likely causes less disruption overall.

    Also, I have taken to marking the 'front' of each box with a red mark to make sure that I put the box back on in the same orientation that I took it off. It speaks to my shortcomings as a beekeeper, but I have found that in the heat of the inspection effort I can forget which way I turned a box (i.e. rotated left or right) to stack boxes at generally right angles when inspecting, so this helps me orient the box back in the stack the way it came off.

    So in conclusion, whether Housel positioning is a benefit or not I don't know, but I do like having a visual means to make sure I put things back the way I found them.

    Housel Positioning.jpg

    I plan to follow-up with a post about several things I've learned this year, and then follow that with my goals for 2019.
    Last edited by Litsinger; 12-14-2018 at 10:34 AM.

  5. #44
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    The final fundamental management decision I made in this first year of my return to beekeeping was to adhere to the idea of Housel positioning of the frames......
    I decided to not even bother with this "Housel posisitioning" for a number of reasons.

    1) I just do natural comb at 100% - they have choices and full control in the comb construction and management.
    That is not my business.

    In fact, IF the bees are really bothered by the comb for any reason, they WILL destroy it and rebuild it.
    Natural comb makes it easier too - no foundation.
    Also, it is very unpractical in a framed/barred hive to set one and the only original comb placement and never violate it - so the "Housel posisitioning" quickly goes out of the window.

    2) Somehow this "Housel posisitioning" assumes the bees, given a chance, will build the comb in properly parallel ways - not the case.
    This is only one common orientation; but erratic, non-parallel free combs are just about as common.
    So then does the "Housel posisitioning" still apply?
    And if YES, can someone demonstrate that?
    I am yet to see such a demo.

    3)The "Housel posisitioning" somehow assumes the colony life-cycle starts at the blank, pristine empty cavity.
    Again, not the case - many times (if not most times), the colony will re-occupy a cavity with pre-existing combs from a dead out tree cavity/a trap/empty hive.
    So, most often they will reuse the current structures as-is after some cleanup (Housel or no-Housel) and will get down to the business.
    If the Housel thing was such a critical deal, most any moved-in structure would be initially destroyed down to the bones and rebuild from zero again - just not the case as we see routinely.

    I feel natural comb frames are plenty good in this regard and don't worry of the other minutia.
    At some point beekeepers' practical consideration also have some weight.

    But, btw, did you see my post about "forget frames/forget bars" - regarding a free-comb nest block idea?
    If concerned with Housel-type issues, I find the idea of "free-comb" block pretty practical and way, way better for the bees' well being than any artificial foundation regardless however "proper" it may be (and worth experimenting too).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #45
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    I am of the opinion that supplemental feeding has a big impact on mite reproduction. I am certain that this point is obvious to many of you. I am not saying that I think supplemental feeding is bad, but that supplemental feeding may induce continued brooding and thus increased mite reproduction, making TF beekeeping that much more difficult when feeding.
    From what I have seen its pollen flow that has a large impact on brood rearing... some times here it gets dry, there is still pollen but nectar drys up quite a bit. the bees chew threw there stores rearing brood and I end up having to put on emergy feed.
    I have taken to harvesting and making splits at this time, the brood break causes them to use honey. I get a much better harvest and end up feeding far less sugar
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  7. #46
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    GregV:

    Thank you for your excellent response on Housel positioning- no arguments from me.

    In fact, I was saving the punch line for my post on 2019 goals, but one of them is to move as quickly as practical toward a foundationless framed comb paradigm.

    While I am not ready to take the frameless plunge, it is hard to find fault in that method from the perspective of comb efficiency and letting the colony decide what is best for them- what is best for the beekeeper however...

    Thanks again for your input.

    Russ

  8. #47
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    msl:

    Thank you for your input, and your point about pollen availability is very perceptive in my opinion. I hadn't considered that aspect deeply, but like you we live in a region of the country where pollen tends to be available most of the year- even when nectar is in short supply. Considering that, and if brooding is somehow tied to pollen availability I can see how this pollen versus nectar mismatch could present problems.

    Have you ever experimented with leaving additional stores on selected colonies to see how their response to stores compares with supplemental feeding?

    I do appreciate you sharing- it is obvious from your posts here on Beesource that you have a lot of first-hand experience in beekeeping and have already thought through many of these questions I have. Please feel most welcome to share your thoughts anytime.

    Russ

  9. #48
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Adding an observation I made regarding upper entrances this season which may very well be obvious to most, but was new to me.

    Having never run (or even heard of) upper entrances when I was younger, I thought it would be interesting to give them a go.

    I installed them at the very top of all of my production hives this season once they were at an adequate strength to successfully defend the opening, moving them up as boxes were drawn-out. I did so by using a feeding shim with a 1" diameter opening in one end.

    I observed that all the colonies began utilizing the upper entrances for foraging, and all began propolizing the opening to varying degrees. I decided that they knew best what they wanted/needed, so I left them to close it off if they saw fit to do so.

    Given that they were occluding the openings even during the height of hot weather and while running screened inner covers, I assumed they were restricting the openings for the express purpose of making it more defensible.

    Once milder weather set-in and solid inners were installed, I noted they continued to work on these openings, assuming they intended to close them off. Interestingly enough (at least to me), both caught swarms eventually contented themselves with a particular opening size. It will be interesting to see if they modify this opening throughout the upcoming season if fate allows.

    Upper Entrance 1.jpgUpper Entrance 2.jpgUpper Entrance Inside.jpg

    Based only on what I saw this year, I might be inclined to run reduced lower entrances and bee-modified upper entrances as the standard set-up. We'll see...

    Also, I never observed small-hive beetles enter through the upper entrance though I saw them gaining entry by the dozens at the lower entrance- might be strictly coincidental.

  10. #49
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Adding an observation....
    Thanks for the pics, Russ!
    Good demo.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #50
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    Default

    Thanks, GregV. There seems to be no limit to the interesting things one can learn about these little buggers... o.k. Hymenoptera, but whatever 😉
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #51
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Mischief:

    Thank you for your response. I sincerely appreciate you sharing your experience.

    While I haven't noticed pandamonium when I pull the tray, I definately notice an audible "roar". Reminds me that there are truly no manipulations/observations (save maybe at the hive entrance) that we can do without disrupting hive dynamics- Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle?

    That said, I appreciate your comment about wax moths. While I've not seen them in the tray, I have seen their larvae (I'll save that for another post).

    An example of one for the "Chronicles of the Bad Beekeeper" files, I noticed with one hive that there were a couple handfuls-worth of dead bees in the oil tray. Assuming they were gaining entry from the outside, I did what I could to plug any hole I figured a bee could gain entry by and renewed the oil.

    Some weeks later, the tray is again found to be filled with two handfuls of bees- investigating further I discovered that there was a bee-sized gap between the screen and the bottom board such that they were gaining entry from the inside!

    The lesson-learned is that I now check all my bottom boards carefully when assembling/renewing and have begun adding extra staples as a precaution.

    Thanks again for sharing your insights. Feel welcome to chime-in anytime.
    I'm going out to check the mesh on mine now!
    I have only found the odd few bees on the solid board and just assumed that it got in there when I wasnt looking.

  13. #52
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    Mischief:

    Thank you for your reply. Glad to hear that I am not the only one to end up with a few unfortunate strays.

    You're in the Southern Hemisphere, right?

    How has the season shaped-up for you thus far?

    Thanks again for sharing, and Merry Christmas!
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  14. #53
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    woodland, wa usa
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    odfrank, From my own near 2 decades of beekeeping, that is a well said reply.

  15. #54

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    The final fundamental management decision I made in this first year of my return to beekeeping was to adhere to the idea of Housel positioning of the frames.
    So in conclusion, whether Housel positioning is a benefit or not I don't know, but I do like having a visual means to make sure I put things back the way I found them.
    I have probably read dozens of messages about housel positioning. The whole thing must have seemed me so obvious Hockus pockus that I never even gave it two seconds so that I would understand what it really means. Now that Litsinger explained it with photos I think I understand what it is.
    I actually went to my warehouse to get one piece of foundation...

    Are there any studies confirming that bees really build this way in nature?

  16. #55
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    jnqpblk:

    Thank you for your input. I do sincerely appreciate experienced beekeepers like yourself taking the time to share their wisdom. As Confucious said, "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

    I can confidently say I have painfully gained quite a lot of experience this year 🙂.

    Thank you again for commenting, and please always feel welcome to share your insights- I'm not above imitation!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  17. #56
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    Juhani:

    Thank you for your reply. I am unaware of any scholarly research that has been conducted regarding Housel positioning, and I expect that the most extensive treatment of it is housed right here on Beesource:

    https://beesource.com/point-of-view/...to-beekeeping/

    That said, I have read where many here on Beesource have experimented with it and likely have much more perspective on it than I.

    As I alluded to, I have not found strong evidence for this phenomena in my limited experience, but find the visual markers to help me reinstall frames in the same orientation I removed them helpful.

    After considering it, do you see any merit in either the comb drawing aspect and/or the benefit of installing combs back in the way they came out?
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  18. #57
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    I am foundationless and lazy. Many times when I get a fat comb drawn or one bowing out or going crooked, I flip them and smash them against the wall of the hive or other comb. I do this for me so the bees will cut the comb back down to get their bee space back. It makes handling the combs better for me and might not be helping the bees but they seem to live through it.

    So I do not worry about the housel positioning. I have read about it but already had my habits and did not seem to be being hurt by it. From what I read, the biggest thing housel was supposed to help with was causing the bees to superceed the queen. This is something that could probably be missed when going on but I have not noticed it happen yet. I am only going into my third winter and so don't know it all. I do know that you can mess up pretty bad in the hives with moving stuff around and even breaking or cutting comb and the bees just keep trucking.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  19. #58
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    Took a quick stroll through the bee yard given it is about 50 degrees F and lightly raining. Made two observations:

    1. The cluster in Hive #3 has moved to the center of the very top box. This is the hive that I added two medium supers of mainly capped stores to mid-week, meaning they are five 8-frame mediums tall. Before I added the two supers, they were at the top of the stack. I find this behavior curious, and I wonder what this portends for this hive through the winter? I did not have to pull the outer/inner cover as I could see the cluster through the upper entrance.

    2. Tore down the nuc deadout from early in the week. There were no more than two handfuls of bees, but they were queenright. This is the nuc that I added a late usurpation swarm to, but the queen I found (photo below) was not the usurper queen, who had a solid dark brown abdomen. If nothing else, it was another queen to add to my QMP stew...

    This leaves me with only two May hived swarms alive at present. Both packages and both nucs have bit the dust, but hope springs eternal.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  20. #59
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    The cluster in Hive #3 has moved to the center of the very top box.
    my interpretation is this indicates they are not brooding in the lower boxes at this time, and that they are taking advantage of the honey stores and the warmth trapped below your insulated top.

    depending on how much and where the empty comb is located when the first tree pollens start coming in will determine where the cluster locates itself to start the first rounds of brood.
    'no wise man has the power to reason away what a fool believes' - the doobies

  21. #60
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    GWW:

    I am glad you replied. I have really enjoyed reading your questions and posts on Squarepeg's chronicles.

    While my weather may be more like SP's than yours, you may be the closest regular TF contributor to me on here?

    I appreciate you sharing your observations and I have done a fair bit of comb mangling myself this year- observing how remarkably resourceful and resilient bees are. They often seem to find a way despite my mismanagement.

    This is what has lead me to tentatively place Housel positioning in the "can't hurt" category.

    I had not heard about the purported supercedure benefits of this approach, so I'll have to explore that a bit further.

    I appreciate your comments here on Beesource, and please always feel welcome to share any advice or observations you have here.

    Merry Christmas,

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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