Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ? - Page 5
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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    Sam comfort talks about this a bit in one of his latest videos, he was seeing even intercast queens at times.. He has switched his recommendation to what people some times call pauper spilts... frame of young brood, frame of food, maby a shake of bees and put on new stand.
    As the name indicates many people don't think highly of them, but Sam has been sending queens to the Tarpy lab and they are scoring almost as good as grafted queens.
    MSL:

    Thank you for sharing the excellent video. It was really enlightening. A few of the points he made that stuck-out to me:

    1. A good-quality queen needs to mate with at least 12 drones- optimally 20.

    2. That the size of the queen cell itself impacts queen quality (to your point about properly provisioned colonies).

    3. That a queenless colony has competing priorities- a high-quality queen versus a queen available sooner.

    His discussion regarding queenless colonies often choosing 3-day old larvae to raise queens from was very insightful relative to the dichotomy outlined in item 3 above. Gives one much to think about.

    I set-up two nucs this year at the advice of a local beekeeper to have one nuc on-hand for every two production hives (still seems like good advice) utilizing the pauper method you outline above.

    My biggest mistake (in my opinion) is that I waited until early July to do so. Based on what I saw this year, seems like I might have had better success starting a month earlier.

    While I am still thinking through next year's priorities relative to nucs, I am inclined to lean more heavily on splits rather than nucs to build the apiary given the ability to supply more resources to the resultant queenless colony.

    That said, I am still learning what works and will likely make a bunch more mistakes before I stumble on what is successful here.

    Thanks again for the advice- I really appreciate it!

    Russ
    Last edited by Litsinger; 12-16-2018 at 07:58 PM.

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  3. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i would prefer they didn't. if we get a protracted stretch of cold weather they can become 'stuck' on the brood, use up the stores just around the nest, fail to move on to adjacent stores, and ultimately starve and freeze.
    Thanks for the feedback, Squarepeg. It is interesting to see how these two hives side-by-side with comparable stores are reading the weather so differently. A great real-time example of how survival is a complex, multi-faceted endeavour. I have not seen any henbit, but it is in-fact a prevalent early pollen source around here, so you are likely right on this count too.

  4. #83
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    It is interesting to see how these two hives side-by-side with comparable stores are reading the weather so differently.
    Wait until you get 10-20 of these puppies.
    Better yet from different sources/lineages.

    I count 7 different lines on my hands right now.
    3 colonies have been flying two days in a row now (we have a December thaw); 9 colonies stay low.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    3 colonies have been flying two days in a row now (we have a December thaw); 9 colonies stay low.
    GregV:

    Thanks for the feedback- that's really interesting. I would have assumed that locally-adapted bees would respond similarly based on the same cues, but the more I read, the more I realize I don't understand much about bee genetics. There is a lot to this stuff!

  6. #85
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    My overarching goals for 2019 follow. I will plan on fleshing-out my thoughts on these concepts this week, and I welcome any constructive criticism or advice- you won't hurt my feelings:

    1. At the risk of unfounded optimism, experiment with checkerboarding at least one overwintered hive.

    2. Attempt to hive as much local swarm stock as I can secure via swarm traps, alighted swarms and possibly siphoning-off genetic material from established feral colonies.

    3. Experiment with the most appropriate means to increase the brood density in 8-frame medium boxes- likely through employing narrow frames.

    4. Related to (1) and (3)- consider the dynamics of what makes colonies decide where to begin overwintering in the stack and evaluate the premise that anchoring in the bottom is most-suitable to long-term survivability and productivity in my climate.

    5. Begin moving toward a foundationless paradigm as quickly as practical.

    6. Related to (5)- evaluate the prospects of implementing a systematic renewal of comb in the stack by possibly moving brood comb up and eventually out.

    7. Cautiously consider making a few splits and nucs.

    8. A little honey wouldn't hurt.

  7. #86
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    2. That the size of the queen cell itself impacts queen quality
    no, its the size of the queen that matters... that has to do with how early they are started and how much they are fed..
    the queen cell is over sized and dose not restrict queen growth (unlike SC), while bigger cells may be indicative of stronger hives, it says not much about whats inside, good queens can come from average sized cells. Other wise there would be much talked about cull guide lines on all the forums... ie if a cell isn't X long toss it.. but of core if you see a runt cell, toss it

    My biggest mistake (in my opinion) is that I waited until early July to do so. Based on what I saw this year, seems like I might have had better success starting a month earlier.
    my area I need a laying queen 1st week in aug or so... some will make it after that, but sucess drops off. best advice would be to make you cells while the flow is on, if not make sure what ever is build cells has feed... both carbs and protein, same for what is receiving the cells/queens every thing is local

  8. #87
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    GregV:

    Thanks for the feedback- that's really interesting. I would have assumed that locally-adapted bees would respond similarly based on the same cues, but the more I read, the more I realize I don't understand much about bee genetics. There is a lot to this stuff!
    The two of the flying bees - swarms caught in 2018; pretty sure commercial.
    One of the flying bees - chemical-free line queen from a local TF friend (5 years treatment free for him; originating from a random swarm).

    Two hives not flying - also swarms caught in 2018; also likely commercial.
    Nine hives not flying - two feral, chemical-free lines originating from two feral queens I got from another TF friend in Arkansas.

    So, you can see the variety.
    If you have the variety, you have chances to stay afloat.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    no, its the size of the queen that matters...
    Good point- more important take-away. The comment about the cell size was made near the end of the presentation as almost a parenthetical statement about a Polish (maybe Ukranian) study- I think he was intending to convey that cell size was somewhat a proxy for colony investment in its contents, but I could certainly be mistaken.

    every thing is local
    Another important foundational truth- one I keep learning again and again as I explore all the myriad variables of successful beekeeping.

    Thank you again for the help and good advice. I really do appreciate it.

    Russ

  10. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    If you have the variety, you have chances to stay afloat.
    I am adopting this as my mantra for this year- start with as much local genetic material as I can muster, and if this proves unsuccessful (maybe even if it perchance is successful) begin introducing outside genetics.

    Thank you for helping to keep me to keep the main thing the main thing.

  11. #90
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    Mischief:

    Thank you for your reply. Summer is but a distant memory here. I am glad to hear your season is going well. You mentioned having a view window- are you using a garden-type hive set-up, or do you have standard 10 frame boxes with view windows cut in (or something else)?

    You also mentioned spreading out your frames- are you running extra spacing in both your brood boxes and your honey supers or only in the supers?

    Here's to a healthy and prosperous New Year for you and your family.

    Russ
    I have a long hive that fits 30 standard deep frames. this has a long window running the length of the hive. I dont put supers on top of this and couldn't if I wanted to, due to the hinged lid.
    The spreading out of the frames in the first year was a stroke of genius,lol, but also a bit of an experiment- is it easier for them to keep on building existing comb? I think it is and handy when you just dont have already built out frames to pop in.

    I can do this sort of thing more easily because its a long/chest hive. I'm quite sure it would be almost impossible to do in a standard lang hive and I only do it with the honey frames although I did accidentally have a couple of frames not tight together in the brood area last spring.
    They didn't build those out but did make burr comb, funnily enough, just on the window side, so I got to see them fill them up with pollen, empty them then fill them up with honey, cap them then empty them out again during the summer dearth.
    Because they didnt seem to worried about the gap, I kept them that way until the last inspection before winter, when I cut them off and closed everything up tight.

    If anyone else has a peaked hinged lid, they might find it beneficial to leave this open for at least half an hour before doing inspections- this gives the foragers time to figure out what is different and get used to it. You dont have heaps of bees flying around your head like you do if you just go straight on in.

  12. #91
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by mischief View Post
    I have a long hive that fits 30 standard deep frames. this has a long window running the length of the hive. I dont put supers on top of this and couldn't if I wanted to, due to the hinged lid.
    You actually alluded to a long hive in a previous post- I apologize for not appreciating this point earlier.

    They didn't build those out but did make burr comb, funnily enough, just on the window side, so I got to see them fill them up with pollen, empty them then fill them up with honey, cap them then empty them out again during the summer dearth.
    That is a really neat observation, and I am impressed that you had the presence of mind to leave them be until a good opportunity presented itself to fix the issue. I might have been tempted to try to fix it immediately and would have missed out on the observational benefit.

  13. #92
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    2. Attempt to hive as much local swarm stock as I can secure via swarm traps, alighted swarms and possibly siphoning-off genetic material from established feral colonies.
    I am going to jump-off regarding 2019 goals by addressing the focus on hiving local swarm stock.

    Let me begin by saying that I am a steely-eyed realist when it comes to a sustainable Treatment-Free apiary. I am going into this knowing full-well that this effort may end in abysmal failure- I am prepared for that.

    That said (and in the event that the project does fail), I do not want it to be for lack of experimenting with all the known avenues that show promise in this area of study.

    Along those lines, the most logical first-place to start in my mind is to evaluate local swarm stock for suitability and branch-out from there.

    My mind was really opened to this possibility when I read Randy Oliver's 6-part series, "What's Happening to the Bees?". While I cannot completely absorb everything that was said in the treatise, one thing really stood-out- the idea of local adaptability.

    Specifically, Mr. Oliver (quoting Mr. Charles Darwin) gives credence to the idea that, "With crossed breeds, the act of crossing in itself certainly leads to the recovery of long-lost characters, as well as those derived from either parent form…From what we see of the power and scope of reversion, both in pure races, and when varieties…are crossed, we may infer that characters of almost every kind are capable of reappearing after having been lost for a great length of time."

    "He [Randy quoting Charles Darwin] further noted that the most common form of reversion, 'almost universal with the offspring from a cross, [is to go back] to the characters proper to either pure parent form.'

    The point Mr. Oliver is making (I think) is that natural cross-breeding seeks to re-activate certain characteristics which might have been previously suppressed via intentional breeding for specific traits (i.e. color, swarming tendency, surplus honey production, docility, etc.).

    Mr. Oliver also takes a lot of space in his articles to make the point that, "To a biologist, it just seems like common sense that a bee stock adapted to the local environment would be expected to survive better with minimal management than would an exotic breed. Think about it—the process of natural selection would have already done most of the work for us."

    My imminently practical anecdote for a bit of optimism is the fact that I am aware of several multi-year survival colonies in the area. In fact, there is a colony living in a 'bee tree' in the alley beside my office that appear to be overwintering successfully thus far (see photos below). While I can in nowise project this success in a managed apiary, the fact that there are successful non-managed colonies in the area gives one some reason to hope.

    Bee Tree 1.jpg Bee Tree 2.jpg

    With this framework in mind, my thoughts immediately go to hiving as much local swarm stock as possible and setting the first primary goal for this proof-of-concept on survival. In other words, any swarm will be welcome in my apiary and their only requirement for continued existence in my yard is survival.

    Obviously, this is an oversimplification of all the myriad factors at-play but it seems to me that the unavoidable reality is thus- one cannot select for specific traits from dead bees.

    So at the risk of repeating myself, the primary goal would be live multi-year bee colonies without treatments as the first (and only) initial measure of incremental success. All other goals are subservient to this.

    I'll follow-up later with a few thoughts about how I hope to procure local swarm stock.

  14. #93
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    .... the most logical first-place to start in my mind is to evaluate local swarm stock for suitability and branch-out from there.....
    Let us revisit this for a moment - the "local stock" thing.

    I am going to say a heresy now - there are pretty much no local stocks in the North America.

    We are in very early stages of a process where some sort of local adaptations occur.
    Maybe.
    Unfortunately, the current status of cross-county bee moving and selling is really screwing up chances for the US local bees to develop.

    The process of local stock formation very similar to the North America took place very recently - just look at the Russian Far East.
    The same model took place - 1)random importation of various bee races and 2)enough time was allowed for those imports to cross-breed and adapt to the local conditions.

    Two general sub-populations of those Russain Far Eastern bees formed - the northern (dark) and the southern (yellow).
    This took about 100-200 years to develop after the initial imports were done and new sustainable populations established.
    OK - those we can call "Russian Far East" local stocks (some sold in the USA too).

    I am yet to see "Wisconsin bee" or "Kentucky bee" or "Alabama bee".
    To compare - there is still such a thing as "Grey Caucasian bee".
    Now that is some local stock there, up in those remote valleys.
    But I never heard of "Alabama bees" just yet - those would constitute some sort of distinct, truly established local stock.

    For now we don't really have local stocks as we don't really have any idea of local bee population status or any control of the bee movements in or out of any locale.

    OK, someone will say - but look at the SP's bees!
    Those are "local stock".
    Well, I am going to say this: who will guaranty if some John Doe will not setup his nomadic, commercial bee yard brought from California almonds just a mile away from SP's bee yard?
    There is no such guaranty - thus making any forming "local stock" very fragile at any place and time, as I see it.
    That is some shame.

    PS:
    our local bee seller is taking orders for 2019 - she will be bringing package bees from California almonds (just like she always does, year after year);
    impossibility of any local bee to develop under such external pressure is pretty obvious (in my particular locale).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #94
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    My swarm hiving strategy for this year follows. Goal is to successfully hive at least four swarms.

    Material On Hand- Fourteen traps consisting of:

    1. Ten new bottom boards and covers and twenty 8-frame medium boxes and frames.

    2. Two old 10-frame deep supers and misc lumber.

    3. Two existing swarm traps.

    Placement Strategy

    1. One here at the office- approximately 10 miles from home.

    2. One on my wife's uncle's farm- approximately 10 miles from home.

    3. One on my dad's farm- approximately 20 miles from home.

    4. One on my brother's farm- approximately 30 miles from home.

    5. The remaining ten I will likely spread-out on our farm unless I can talk some friends in the area into letting me set traps at their place.

    Construction

    My existing swarm traps are constructed out of two stacked 10-frame medium supers, generally following the advice of Dr. Tom Seeley. Utilizing this same model, I will plan on traps made out of new equipment to be comprised of two stacked 8-frame medium supers, baited with a single drawn comb from this year's dead-outs, the remaining frames being set-up for foundationless with an application of QMP and lemongrass oil applied. I will plan to drill a single 1" diameter hole in the side of both 10-frame deep supers and attach plywood on the top and bottom of both boxes, loading both of them up in similar fashion to the new equipment.

    Timing

    Last year, I put the two bait hives out in late April and caught a swarm in each by early May. In retrospect, these should have been out much sooner, at least based on feedback from the Kentucky State Beekeeping Association. Per the past two statewide surveys (linked below), beekeepers in Kentucky have reported hiving swarms starting in early March. As such, I intend to have all traps out by mid-February.

    http://www.ksbabeekeeping.org/result...n-2018-survey/
    http://www.ksbabeekeeping.org/survey...warms-of-2017/

    Wildcards

    1. One of my work clients is the Kentucky State Department of Transportation. In the course of discussion, they have told me about a hive that has continuously occupied the historic Whitehaven property (https://www.kentuckytourism.com/whit...elcome-center/) for at least ten years. Supposedly, they have tried every way in the world to eliminate this colony (poisoning, trapping-out, blocking their entrance, etc.) to no avail. Based on their will to live and the fact that they are hived very high up in an area that does not impact visitors, they have elected to let them continue unmolested. Apparently this hive casts a swarm every year that alights in one of the adjacent landscape trees. My colleagues have assured me that they will call me if a swarm is cast, and I will plan on having a box in my car.

    2. One of my other clients is Murray State University (http://murraystate.edu/). The facilities management guys have told me that swarms are a big issue on campus in the spring and that they will call me when they are reported. They also offered to let me do some cut-outs for them, but I told them I'd have to get a lot more experience before I am ready to take that plunge.

  16. #95
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Let us revisit this for a moment - the "local stock" thing.
    GregV: Thank you for your detailed and sober assessment- in short I do not disagree with any of your observations. Anecdotally, I expect that isolation (in whatever form it takes) definitely gives much of our unmanaged stock a fighting chance. One thing working for us in Kentucky specifically is that we are not a big horticultural producer, which I think lessens some (but not all) of the migratory bee pressure in our region. It also means that managed hive densities are generally lower here than they are in areas that depend upon pollination for their industry.

    That said, there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. There is a fairly large commercial producer about 30 miles to the South of me who told me he was treatment-free for 7 years. Ultimately, he gave it up because his losses became too large for him to sustain financially. I do not in any way fault him for beginning to treat, and I have learned quite a lot from him. I will save it for another post, but based on my discussions with him, here are two take-aways I had which are germane to our current discussion:

    1. Beekeeping is a hobby for me- I can sustain high losses in perpetuity as long as my interest and patience hold-out.

    2. There's something to be said for natural selection- His troubles grew as he sought to make queens and packages for his retail enterprise. It made me think, "Can I select better than Mother Nature for survival?"

    This is what has prompted me to focus strictly on survival, and to lean-on swarms (rather than splits) to attempt to grow the apiary (at least initially).

    Please feel welcome to continue to poke holes in my logic- I appreciate it!

    Russ

  17. #96
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    plenty of DNA studys to show ferals are independent of imported commercial bees.

    rember local adaption means the stock does better in its native environment then any were elce... but that dosn't mean stock form some were elce could do better then the adapted stock....
    AHB displacing the EHB ferals come to mind...

    on that note, give this a read https://www.researchgate.net/publica..._from_Utah_USA
    two (A4a’ and A4’’) are unique to Utah when compared to the rest of the United States
    given the high diversity of mtDNA haplotypes observed among feral honey bees in Utah, this gives evidence that these feral honey bees were not exposed to Varroa mites
    from our samples for our study, usually consisting of 20-40 worker honey bees, we have not observed any Varroa mites. This sample size was not ideal for Varroa mite surveillance, but it does provide evidence of a lack of exposure to Varroa mites in these populations
    and the real kicker...
    samples collected in our study from Utah, which were found at elevations as high as 1357 m, are not A. m. scutellata, but a different A lineage subspecies. This could provide evidence that some of the A lineage honey bees from Utah, are not A. m. scutellata that entered the United States in 1990 from Brazil (Sugden & Williams, 1990), and were introduced to Utah before 1990

  18. #97
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    MSL:

    Thank you for the research link! I will look forward to reading this article tonight. Based on your feedback, it sounds as if the research seeks to corroborate what Dr. Seeley discovered with the ferals in the Arnot forest?

    This whole subject fascinates me- you keep digging and there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of new treasures beneath...

  19. #98
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    plenty of DNA studys to show ferals are independent of imported commercial bees. ..
    So....
    Are we going to hear of localized and distinct "Utah highland bees" anytime soon?

    I doubt it.
    See what I mean?
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #99
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    we going to hear of localized and distinct "Utah highland bees" anytime soon?
    LOL, You just did
    two (A4a’ and A4’’) are unique to Utah when compared to the rest of the United States
    To your point- Yes most of us would be better off if those around us learned how to keep there bees alive and to make there own replacements, or bought them locally form some one who dose. Stoping the influx of sun belt genetics bred for almonds and the assorted pathogens

    however the real change would come if instead of dinking around and trying to "grow your own" people got serious about paying $10 or so more for a queen and demanding resistant stock from breeders and package producers.
    Last edited by msl; 12-17-2018 at 01:45 PM.

  21. #100
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    LOL, You just did...
    Well then!
    I want a couple of those queens!
    Where do I order?

    Exactly.
    got serious about paying $10 or so more for a queen and demanding resistant stock from breeders and package producers.
    So, yes, gimmy some "Utah queens"!
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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