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Beauty is in the eye of the beeholder…

3183 Views 87 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Snarge
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Just an average Varroa Board with a month’s worth of detritus.

Today is Growing Degree Day 40 (using Syngenta for my zip) and the Silver Maple (Acer Saccharinum) is blooming along with some early Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)~noted by the olive-green and yellow pollen pellets that have fallen through the #8 mesh.

There is zero natural-drop of Varroa Mites, though 28 dead Small Hive Beetles~not ideal but at least they’re dead.

There are several dozen glistening wax platelets evident.

Spring will be here before long and I can’t wait to get my 👀 on what’s actually going on inside.

How does your bottom look?
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I took this photo this morning, 2 days worth of debris. The boards were inserted ABOVE the screen. No mites, but chalkbrood in the left hive. Silver maples here will probably bloom in 2-3 weeks.

Talking about mite drop during winter, the left hive got OAV on 11/26, 12/3, 12/9, and 12/18. Mite drops 2 days after OAV were 124, 134, 11, 1 (the right hive had much less mites and received three OAVs). If everything goes well, I won't see mites on the boards until July.


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've had more than average SHB on the bottom board this winter too- nasty little buggers... What is your average mite drop through the winter? I find the winter is a good time to evaluate for mite biting- do you have a 20X microscope?
Russ: First of all, your Christmas candles are beautiful~you’re a family of many talents and I’m sure the countertops were spotless afterwards!

This year the SHB drop has been about the same as last winter’s but being forewarned is to be forearmed. I may try the Murder Sauce that Thill likes~I have all the components assembled.

My natural mite drop has been negligible~I don’t say that to boast. I am always scrupulous when it comes to treating, both after the harvest in July and with an OAS wash in October (sorry psm1212😉).

I love that you can be friends with a beekeeper who treats. One day I may meet you in the middle. As it stands now, I plan to increase my mite threshold after smudging from 50 to 100. This may prove that my locally-adapted~9th generation, from just 2 original Queens~can handle more than I think…

I do have a microscope that I have used to check for the presence of tracheal mites (several years ago) after Mike Studer~our Tn State Inspector~advised that they had caused large colony losses for some. (I watched several videos and followed Jamie Ellis’ tutorial for the most comprehensive instructions.)

As far as scoping Varroa Mites, for being chewed upon, or mauled, that’s an excellent idea. The videos you posted, discussing SMR and VSH bees were excellent. My take is that we have still so much to learn but that an integrated approach in finding various tolerances to Mites is what it may boil down to.

Are your bees nibbling on mites for dinner?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I took this photo this morning, 2 days worth of debris. The boards were inserted ABOVE the screen. No mites, but chalkbrood in the left hive. Silver maples here will probably bloom in 2-3 weeks.

Talking about mite drop during winter, the left hive got OAV on 11/26, 12/3, 12/9, and 12/18. Mite drops 2 days after OAV were 124, 134, 11, 1 (the right hive had much less mites and received three OAVs). If everything goes well, I won't see mites on the boards until July.
Kuro: Your debris looks healthy for a 2 day drop. I see those chalkbrood mummies; that condition should clear itself up as the weather improves, as you know. You and I are on a very similar mite-treating schedule, both date and time wise!

When I first started this captivating hobby I feasted on Rusty Burlew’s HoneyBeeSuite.com. She’s in your area so much of the intel is relevant for you, more so than for me. I realized that quilts and upper ventilation (for moisture control) were completely unnecessary, and somewhat detrimental, in my climate, but I scurried down those rabbit holes my first couple of years.

Thank you for posting your pictures. There is so much to be gleaned from the Varroa Boards, whether under a screen, or above. For me, it is the difference between flying blind or having a full panel of instruments in front of me~another extremely valuable tool at our disposal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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This is a board from one of my sister’s 3. There are quite a few more discarded (or dropped) pollen pellets from silver and red maples, along with a handful of dead SHBs.

Both she and I will rotate some older frames out this spring, usually after every 4-6 years. I put the last digit of the year at the rear of the frame top, both for replacing each correctly and for knowing the age of the wax.

I’ll throw this question out to the experts: has it been unequivocally determined that the nurse bees intentionally discard these pellets because they are lacking in a complete amino acid profile, or are they just, accidentally, dropped; possibly fumbled in the excitement?
 

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I’ll throw this question out to the experts: has it been unequivocally determined that the nurse bees intentionally discard these pellets because they are lacking in a complete amino acid profile, or are they just, accidentally, dropped; possibly fumbled in the excitement?
not an expert
my vote they are dropped.
many single source pollen pellets have "some" of the amino acids, several pollen types offer a more complete profile, So IMO they do not drop the ones with incomplete profile as most of them are like that.

GG
 

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my vote they are dropped.
I think so, too.

I observe pollen dropped on the board under microscope (x800). In mid April they are mostly maples and cherries, in mid June mostly blackberries and in October mostly ivy. So it seems to me that pollen on the bottom board represents what bees are bringing in at the time. If you have a pollen trap, you could compare pollen in the trap vs on the bottom board, I suppose.
 

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I would say dropped also.
 
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i see pellets like that getting removed en masse from repurposed dead out frames that have spent some of the winter in the freezer. i think the pollen can go 'stale' after a long time in the comb except when buried below honey. proteins denature over time and i believe the bees are removing it because they sense it's no longer useful to them.
 

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This may prove that my locally-adapted~9th generation, from just 2 original Queens~can handle more than I think…
Snarge:

Thank you for your kind words. I have a great family and they are always willing to help out. I did mess up recently by offering to pay two of my daughters to paint boxes for me- after a few rounds they started lobbying for a raise!

While I'd stop well short of any guarantees, if your locally-adapted bees are anything like ours I imagine you might be pleasantly surprised at how well they might do with reduced treatments- I'll look forward to reading about your experiments.

Are your bees nibbling on mites for dinner?
I think the mite biting is one of many tools that bees utilize to keep mite numbers under control and I am convinced that the rate of grooming depends upon several variables, not the least of which is storage security. So while they may not eat mites for dinner, I think the most significant grooming begins only after they've got the pantry fully stocked.

I put the last digit of the year at the rear of the frame top, both for replacing each correctly and for knowing the age of the wax.
I'm curious to know what you use to mark your frames- I've used several methods and all prove illegible after a few seasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Russ:

Ha~smart girls you’re raising! In my mind I see them as being artistic like their Dad; do you have a photo of their box artwork?

Coincidentally, your Robert Burns’ quote, “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley” (…often go wrong) is in a Stephen King novel, Dr. Sleep, that I’m reading. I probably would have skipped by the Scottish vernacular but you had already made me aware. Thank you for that.

I use a thick black permanent marker to mark the top end of the frame that goes toward the back~I try to put the furniture back the way I found it. I always carry one in the apiary. I also use it to draw small arrows if I find pre-swarm cups and a longer one for cells. This helps me remember to give that frame a millimeter extra space so as not to accidentally damage them.

It does amaze me that you have over 40 colonies. I am selling 12 this spring to reduce to, ultimately, 9-11. That will be a goal of beauty for me this year~along with complete box, and frame, standardization~I’m psyched. Maybe then I will find time to scope to see if my mites are being nibbled and mauled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
i see pellets like that getting removed en masse from repurposed dead out frames that have spent some of the winter in the freezer. i think the pollen can go 'stale' after a long time in the comb except when buried below honey. proteins denature over time and i believe the bees are removing it because they sense it's no longer useful to them.
Thanks, Squarepeg.

Kent Williams (his sugar brick recipe was mentioned on another thread) is an experienced beekeeper, and lecturer, in our distant vicinity. (He runs a clinic, usually, in April which I’ve yet to attend but have heard incredible things about). His experience has shown that, when pollen is almost always available, the bees will ignore pollen frames that are more than 2 months old, most definitely in preference of fresh incoming.

I have been culling these old pollen frames for many years now because, as y’all know, the brood nest can become pollen-bound just as easily as it becomes nectar-bound.

With a lower entrance, the pollen foragers drop their baskets in the closest available cells which leads to the bottom box containing nothing but bee bread. My bees don’t clean these out like yours but, I imagine, this could be location-related. As I mentioned, here in southern Tennessee, there is never a shortage of incoming pollen, at least on days that are flyable.

With an upper entrance (I’ve removed all of mine in favor of being standardized), they drop these pellets off in the honey supers; right at the entrance. This really isn’t bad because the extracted honey has even more of a pollen influence.

I will check for pollen being removed if/when such pollen frames are used when coming from a freezer.
 

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I’ll throw this question out to the experts: has it been unequivocally determined that the nurse bees intentionally discard these pellets because they are lacking in a complete amino acid profile, or are they just, accidentally, dropped; possibly fumbled in the excitement?
If this is below a screened bottom board, walking across the screen could be scraping them off. When they deposit the pollen, they back into the cell and then scrape it off; I don't see them dropping nearly as many as you see on your board. (Honey bee behaviours within the hive: Insights from long-term video analysis for the video if you're interested.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If this is below a screened bottom board, walking across the screen could be scraping them off. When they deposit the pollen, they back into the cell and then scrape it off; I don't see them dropping nearly as many as you see on your board. (Honey bee behaviours within the hive: Insights from long-term video analysis for the video if you're interested.)
Thanks Shelley: I hadn’t considered that. I’m not sure that is correct, though. There’s such an ample amount of pollen coming through the front door that it, most likely, just gets dropped. I’ve seen pollen pellets occasionally fall outside on the (horizontal) landing board and these are never repurposed or fed on. I’ve had cameras on this so I can say that fairly confidently.

Playing devil’s advocate, I’d say that those with solid bottoms don’t see the dropped pellets being hauled out, after a time. I’m not sure to be honest.

There’s never a shortage of this color of pollen stored in the frames so I think that there is another option. Maybe, there is an excess for the amount of storage space available, or that the colony’s requirement (to be consumed) by the nurses to make their brood food is not quite at the level of that coming in. It doesn’t have to be an either or~probably a combination of everything.
 

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i may have misinterpreted your photos snarge. i thought i was looking at stored pellets of pollen the size of a comb cell, that the bees had removed from the comb to haul out.

looking at them closer, it looks like they are more likely small loads of pollen dislodged from incoming pollen baskets, and if so i could see how a hind leg slipping into a screened bottom could knock a pollen load.

anyway, good thread. many thanks for sharing and contributing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
i've no experience with harvesting pollen, but this appears to be a pollen trap that uses wire screen to dislodge pollen:

Using a top-mounted pollen trap
Thank you Squarepeg.

Even though we were on slightly different wavelengths you gave me another angle to consider (in putting (previously) frozen pollen frames back on); that’s the beauty of the Bee Source forums.

Regardless of experience level, someone will, invariably, proffer intel I hadn’t considered. I find it so intriguing. The more I read, the more I realize how little I know. Everyone on the forums knows there is more out there (that’s why we’re reading them) and I think we are always hopeful to discover new tidbits.

Thank you for being a Super-duper Moderator~you are much appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Flower Plant Nature Petal Leaf

These little beauties~all taken today and yesterday~will be visited even more as they mature, especially the shrub honeysuckle and the hellebores. These photos include various hellebores (H. orientalis, niger and foetidus), fragrant winter honeysuckle (L. fragrantissima), giant snowdrops (G. elwesii), snow crocus (C. chrysanthum) and mahonia (M. bealei).

(I’m using the PicMerger app to build the collages from my own albums-no vested interest).
 

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What part of TN you live in, been cold, drizzly and 44* F in Knoxville
 
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