Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping
Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 116
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Sawyer County,WI USA
    Posts
    365

    Default Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Anyone else in the TF community heading this direction?

    Tom Seeley spells it out pretty clearly in latest BC issue. Wife and I both think we've been having more fun with our bees since going this direction. 2019 will be our third year keeping colonies small and more spread out. A little more work, a little more spread out, but if you're a hobbiest Beek and have the space its been worth it for us...so far.

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    Anyone else in the TF community heading this direction?
    i am not leaning that way at this time db, although i do see some merit in implementing those ideas, especially for those just starting out and/or those in locations more challenged than mine.

    all of my hives are in a straight row and separated by about a hive width of space. they are are indentical in appearance except for maybe the number of supers at any given time.

    i'm pretty sure i have a lot of drifting. i see it happening at times when a pollen laden forager returns to the wrong hive, wanders in for a moment, and then comes right back out and goes into the to hive next door.

    going forward i'm going to pay more attention to the impact of drifting. i may put differing markers on the fronts of the hive for example. i started this year putting robber screens on hives that i see dwv and crawlers coming out of, and i may start putting them on more if not all the hives. i'm also reducing my entrances much more in the late fall and through the winter months.

    the degree of acceptance of drifting bees as well as the propensity to rob may be traits that play a role in mite resistance. as far as drifting goes here is an interesting discussion that took place on bee-l some time back:


    https://community.lsoft.com/scripts/...-L&D=0&P=88357

    (click on 'next' to the right of 'by topic' to follow the discussion).


    as far as smaller colonies go i really hope it doesn't come to that. my populations peak at about 2.5 ten frame deeps worth of bees on average, hived in a single deep with 4 - 5 medium supers. a colony like that will yield as much as 150 lbs. of harvestable honey under good conditions.

    smaller colonies such as splits, a swarmed colony, or a caught swarm will typically produce half or less as much honey as one of those larger ones will.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    NW Florida
    Posts
    1,141

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Not sure about the reason for the title, but for someone with three or four hives, putting distance between them sounds worth the try to keep drifting issues at bay. I paint different colors to help with drifting.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Sawyer County,WI USA
    Posts
    365

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Something we've been doing for a couple seasons is the staggering of hives, instead of placing them in 'neat' rows. A slight turn 'away' from the closest one (Usually 6-8').

    We used to have one yard, located about fifty yards from our front door. It could handle up to a dozen or so hives, plus a few Nuc's, more if we placed them closer together. Now we have two yards (more fencing, another fencer) with only 2-4 hives in each and each yard separated by 75-100 yards. We haven't been doing it this way long enough to realize any benefits so far, but the methodology as described by Tom Seeley seems logical enough that its the direction we're going.

    We've always treated or thought of Honey Production, kinda like we think about fishing. I simply enjoy being on the water (or ice, depending on the season), and catching any fish (or harvesting a lot of honey) simply becomes a bonus for us. Good thing we're no longer trying to add income to the reserves anymore.

    We keep bees now days because we love keeping them, and after many years we still enjoy the 'relatively' small amount of effort it takes to have them around.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    We've always treated or thought of Honey Production, kinda like we think about fishing. I simply enjoy being on the water (or ice, depending on the season), and catching any fish (or harvesting a lot of honey) simply becomes a bonus for us. Good thing we're no longer trying to add income to the reserves anymore.

    We keep bees now days because we love keeping them, and after many years we still enjoy the 'relatively' small amount of effort it takes to have them around.
    very cool db.

    this points out the reality of how diverse the universe of beekeeping is in terms of desires, goals, and purposes all of which very much impact management decisions.

    there's nothing wrong with doing it for just the enjoyment of it, just like there's nothing wrong with doing it to pay your mortgage and put your kids through college.

    as to darwinian beekeeping:

    placement of hives is an easy thing to control especially for smaller apiaries. i suggested to litsinger in his 'bungling' thread to scatter the placement of his hives as he grows his apiary.

    i think colony size is going to be mostly determined by factors such local climate, forage availability, genetics, and whether or not swarm prevention and/or splitting are practiced.

    i don't have access to seeley's bc article, but i'm not surprised at his findings that left up to their own devices bees tend to maintain colony size smaller than managed colonies and prefer keeping some distance from their neighbors. it makes sense and the bees' needs are met perfectly.

    the minute we put them in our box, place them closer together, invade and rearrange their space, and take things from them is the minute we add stressors to the bees that their feral cousins don't have to contend with.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    8,117

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    the minute we put them in our box, place them closer together, invade and rearrange their space, and take things from them is the minute we add stressors to the bees that their feral cousins don't have to contend with.
    Maybe. What about before varroa? I saw no stressors back then that feral bees didn't have. What would they be?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    NW Florida
    Posts
    1,141

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    I can't resist mentioning that when I opened the thread I thought it would be about some horribly stupid thing someone did that cost them. I guess I've read too many Darwin Awards books and posts.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Maybe. What about before varroa? I saw no stressors back then that feral bees didn't have. What would they be?
    i am in complete agreement michael that the arrival of varroa introduced a significant stressor for both managed and unmanaged colonies alike.


    my comment was 'generally speaking' but the type of stressors i had in mind include:

    1. the boxes we place our bees into are not as cozy as the hollow trees their feral cousins choose.

    2. i'll speculate that the rotting inside of a tree hollow allows for a better propolis envelope and provides a better environment for beneficial microbes.

    2. placing more than one colony per square kilometer or whatever the density seeley found the ferals have creates competition for resources, and increases the impact of horizontal transmission of diseases and pests via drifting and robbing.

    3. taking resources away from a given colony such as comb, brood, pollen, and honey is most likely not particularly helpful to that particular colony, and again a stressor the unmanaged colony doesn't have to contend with.

    4. effective swarm prevention via our manipulations deprives a colony of that natural broodbreak and yearly requeeing that on the surface would seem to have some survival benefit.


    excellent beekeepers like yourself developed work-arounds to these stressors long before varroa arrived. you wrap your hives and insulate the tops for wintering. you make sure you don't overpopulate your individual sites. you ensure your colonies have the stores needed to winter safely, and you make sure your colonies are adequately queenright.

    i'm guessing the lack of these beekeeper inputs would manifest in problems for the managed colonies that the ferals don't have to contend with. jmho.

    the point i was trying to make is that there are elements that are inherent to keeping and managing bees that deviate from the natural condition, and in that respect we have to qualify to some degree when applying the term 'darwinian' to what we do.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,244

    Default

    This is a really neat discussion and I look forward to the continued conversation. I'll readily admit that I don't have enough first-hand experience to contribute anything of value to the discussion, but I am acutely interested in what our experienced forum members have to say on the subject - I guess this is my verbose way of saying "following". 😉
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    8,117

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    my comment was 'generally speaking' but the type of stressors i had in mind include:

    1. the boxes we place our bees into are not as cozy as the hollow trees their feral cousins choose.

    2. i'll speculate that the rotting inside of a tree hollow allows for a better propolis envelope and provides a better environment for beneficial microbes.

    2. placing more than one colony per square kilometer or whatever the density seeley found the ferals have creates competition for resources, and increases the impact of horizontal transmission of diseases and pests via drifting and robbing.

    3. taking resources away from a given colony such as comb, brood, pollen, and honey is most likely not particularly helpful to that particular colony, and again a stressor the unmanaged colony doesn't have to contend with.

    4. effective swarm prevention via our manipulations deprives a colony of that natural broodbreak and yearly requeeing that on the surface would seem to have some survival benefit.
    Now, not trying to start anything, and only trying to understand...The whole idea of Darwinian Beekeeping is foreign to me.

    I consider these 4 points assumptions. Going back before varroa and acarapis, we always had low losses. Always less than 10%. Often near zero. Losses were normal issues. Queen issues, starvation, etc.

    I kept bees 15 years before varroa. Large yards and small yards. I think if there were an issue with the hive, #s 1 and 2, we would have seen it. Harvesting from our bees doesn't hurt them. Of course, it's easy enough to be greedy. Taking more than the bees provide us is wrong, and we never did that. Of course the brood break is a post varroa management scheme, and something I don't buy into.

    So, other than point #4, which is post varroa, I didn't see what is being claimed. I just don't think points 1-3 are inherently true.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    New Haven, CT
    Posts
    404

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    ...a little more spread out...

    I havenít seen the Seeley article yet. Are colonies more dense on the landscape than they are in Cornellís forest suboptimal? It would seem so. How far apart should yards be, and how many colonies per yard?

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    So, other than point #4, which is post varroa, I didn't see what is being claimed. I just don't think points 1-3 are inherently true.
    i very much respect your opinion michael and i appreciate you taking the time to engage here.

    the point i was trying to make in #4 is that a swarmed colony will have a fresh queen which would be less likely to fail before the following spring, thereby giving a colony not managed for swarm prevention of bit of an advantage. i should have left the brood break part out of it.

    yes, i am just making assumptions when i say that pre-varroa managed hives were exposed to more stressors than their feral cousins. the ideas make intuitive sense to me, especially with regard to #2, insofar as there were other diseases and pests around pre-varroa.

    good beekeeping would tend to negate #1 and #3.

    research hasn't yet adequately addressed #2.

    that your experience bodes differently than my assumptions doesn't come as a total shock. things aren't always as one thinks they should be when it comes to bees.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,834

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Squarepeg, how do we know that bees "prefer" the hollow tree that we assume to be their natural habitat? Wouldn't that tend to make putting swarm traps in a forested area pointless? I think experience has shown us that bees willingly choose some places to set up housekeeping that we find very strange, and not at all tree-like. Maybe the tree is what they take when nothing better presents itself. Regarding #2, I imagine that bee density is relative to the perceived available forage, otherwise why would swarms choose to move into boxes in an established apiary with hundreds of acres of woodlands all around? Not trying to argue, rather, serve another course to chew on.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Squarepeg, how do we know that bees "prefer" the hollow tree that we assume to be their natural habitat?
    good questions jwp.

    i used the term 'choose' but i can see how that might be interpreted as 'prefer'.

    when i put swarm traps up 100 yards or so from the hives i keep in the somewhat forested area i live in, about half the swarms that issue from my hives move into the traps and the other half take off for the woods.

    i can't be sure if swarms take off because they have found and given preference to a tree hollow, or if it is because of a natural tendency to put some distance between themselves and the parent colony, or if it is for some other unknown reason.

    supposedly the scout bees spend some time investigating and locating potential new homes. if there is more than one choice they supposedly compare and end up picking the one that best suits them.

    i can see how the decision could go either way depending on what's available at the time.

    i believe this process is described in seeley's 'honey bee democracy', but i haven't read it or too much else of seeley's work. i also haven't had the chance to read the bc article(s) in which the 'darwinian approach was discussed. so like michael, i'm not sure exactly what that entails.

    from the op, i am assuming it has to do with spacing out hives more, keeping smaller colonies, and perhaps allowing them to swarm.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,110

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    why would swarms choose to move into boxes in an established apiary with hundreds of acres of woodlands all around? .
    I have a PDF version of a 1983 book about native Bashkir forest bee (title page attached).
    This is about bee-tree beekeeping.
    I may selectively translate few pages of interest.
    BashkirForestBee.jpg

    One of the main points of the book - there must be abundant old growth forest before it is usable by the bees.
    We are talking about plenty of choices of hollow trees of at least 3-4 in diameter that are needed for suitable habitat.

    In the USA, most of the old growth forests does not exist except few pockets.
    One can argue that secondary forests are old enough - maybe yes, maybe now.
    But in fact, no one cared to look into this systematically (outside of Seeley's forest if that is to be counted).
    In addition, we love bringing down old, hollow trees in the managed locations that pose risk.

    So, now, "hundreds of acres of woodland all around" me personally are mostly useless to the bees.
    In addition, it is hard to find that exact hole in a tree that has a nice, large 40-60 liter hollow behind it AND have it been previously occupied by the bees AND having a nice bee nest smell to it.
    Looking for such places is very, very ineffective most current settings.

    Meanwhile, someone like me has several very nicely baited traps standing across the area AND also several bee yards across the same area that also produce nice plumes of attractive smells.
    In such setup bees finding and choosing "previously occupied" bee dwellings (not natural, but only presented artificially so) is pretty obvious.
    Of course, they will go for a nice smelling trap vs. looking for a big enough oak with a large hole where bees most likely never lived anyway.

    PS: last year I plugged a bee-tree by person's request; they had bees repeatedly occupying an oak in their yard for several years (well - no more; so another bee-tree went off-line).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,882

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    the point i was trying to make in #4 is that a swarmed colony will have a fresh queen which would be less likely to fail before the following spring, thereby giving a colony not managed for swarm prevention of bit of an advantage.
    yet there are those aplenty the espouse beekeepers for yearly re queening

    Squarepeg, how do we know that bees "prefer" the hollow tree that we assume to be their natural habitat? Wouldn't that tend to make putting swarm traps in a forested area pointless? **snip** I imagine that bee density is relative to the perceived available forage
    It seems the limitation on feral bee population is suitably nest cavitys, urban areas typically have much higher denistys of outher places due to the man made cavitys, pree varroa of course, if the limiation was forage, we would not be able to keep any were near the high denceincys that we do
    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Looks like .5 feral colonies per km squared in rural forested area and 2.3 feral colonies in urban area buildings, across NY State, Vischer and Seeley 1982, Morse et al 1990.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    10,170

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    In the USA, most of the old growth forests does not exist except few pockets.
    interesting point. the wooded lands around me haven't been logged for the most part since the tva and wpa programs just after the great depression, so i don't know if that counts as old growth or not.

    that, and the much of the steep sides of the long-running ridges if the southern applachians may have never been logged because of the difficulty involved with logging on very steep grades.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Livingston county,Michigan,USA
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Which issue of BC are you referring to?

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Tallapoosa, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    616

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    I have some acreage with mixed hardwoods. The red oaks are starting to have hollow hearts. I would not call it old growth. I have two pine stumps that were cut with a crosscut saw. The hearts are about 3 feet in diameter. That was a massive tree. I am not sure that there are any cavities that are suitable for bees.
    I do know that the pines grown in my area for pulp production are seeing low prices. This will hopefully cause the high density, single species forest to diversify.
    Working to propagate my survivors and staying treatment free USDA Zone 7b

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,110

    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    interesting point. the wooded lands around me haven't been logged for the most part since the tva and wpa programs just after the great depression, so i don't know if that counts as old growth or not.

    that, and the much of the steep sides of the long-running ridges if the southern applachians may have never been logged because of the difficulty involved with logging on very steep grades.
    Three years ago now, we made a family vacation at the Great Smokies NP area.
    I made note of:
    a) indeed, very unfriendly terrain for large scale logging in many places (which did not seem to prevent some selective logging anyway in between the ridges)
    b) but also very rocky and infertile soils on the mountain slopes themselves (compared to the low-land valleys)
    c) somewhat stunted tree growth, the higher you go, the smaller are the trees (see b).

    In any case, I noticed bees at the very tops of the mountains (pretty sure - feral bees).
    Notably, there were bees in the lawns by the very Newfound Gap visitor center (for those who know).
    I was very interested to know where those bees came from; it was pretty darn high and away from residential bees I thought.

    To compare, virtually all of WI is easily accessible in winter and was completely logged out (a huge shame; few people got disgustingly rich).
    The secondary growth only now re-entering the stages of old growth in few places.
    Overall, natural bee habitat does not really exist.
    Hence, the obvious bee dwelling choices that we observe.
    I lost a swarm last summer and pretty darn sure it ended up in someone else's trap OR an old farm barn nearby - those are the easiest options in the area.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •