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Discussion Starter #41
A quick check showed cells in the process of being sealed. I am going to split the "hot" hive tomorrow and move cells into it Tuesday. I will also remove the breeder queen that supplied the eggs from which these queens were raised and put a cell in her colony. The breeder queen and a frame of brood will be used to requeen a hive out on my land. I want her to be available next spring so I can raise a few more queens for early splits. The end result should be 6 splits here at the house that each have a queen cell and the source queen in a hive out at my land.
 

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Discussion Starter #42
I split the hot hive this afternoon putting 3 frames of brood into a Langstroth box. These are the last 3 Langstroth size frames I have in my bees. The queen was on the 3rd frame. I put the hive on the old hive's stand and moved the rest of the colony to a nearby location. I expect the foraging bees to return to the Langstroth box making it very strong by tomorrow evening. When I removed the old queen, I placed her into a queen shipping box along with about 50 of her bees. They will protect her for a day or two. I don't need her, but want to keep her around just in case I find a failing queen in one of my other hives.

At this time of year, there may be 2 queens in a few colonies, usually a mother and daughter both of which may be laying. It is unlikely, but given that I want good quality queens and don't want to waste good queen cells, I will verify the splits are truly queenless before inserting cells. I will be able to tell by the bee's behavior if they are queenless by tomorrow evening. This colony was distinctly mild tempered compared to last spring. I did not get stung and the bees were much less aggressive. This suggests they may have superseded the old queen a few months ago which highlights the reason I want to verify the bees are queenless before giving cells.

I started with 3 colonies here at the house and now have 6 splits. There is one breeder queen in a colony that will be removed in the morning. I will relocate her to a hive on my land 7 miles east from here.

I observed the two that are building queen cells and saw an abundance of fresh pollen being brought into the hives. The cells should now be sealed with the oldest holding an 11 day old (from the date the eggs were laid) developing queen. I have 4 days to distribute the cells.


One key to doing this is that I know there is a small flow and sufficient pollen coming into the hives. If there were no flow, I would have to be much more careful to avoid triggering robbing.

One thing I am doing that I would not have done in the past is to remove frames that are not covered by bees after making the splits. I wait until the day after making the split before moving frames. This is important as the disruption of being split will trigger beetles to lay eggs on any unguarded combs. I want the splits to remain calm and continue foraging as the new queens fly and mate. Beetle infestation or for that matter just about anything that disrupts a colony will usually prevent getting a healthy queen from a fall split.
 

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Discussion Starter #43
I moved 3 queen cells with two going into the splits from the hot hive and 1 into one of the other splits after removing the laying queen. At this time, I expect to have 5 queens emerge in a few days. I also have 3 or 4 more cells that can be moved if I decide to do so. I'm going to check colonies out at my land tomorrow and see if there are any that need a cell. This will work if I can give the bees at least 12 hours to be queenless before adding a cell.

Two of the splits are a bit weak for fall. I will have to boost them with brood from other colonies. This can be done in a few weeks after the queens have mated.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
I can tell 4 of the splits now have virgin queens by the dramatically increased washboarding at the entrance. I plan to check one that is not looking right this afternoon. A little detail that often causes problems with getting new queens mated is disturbing the colony before the queen has mated and started laying. That is why I won't open the other colonies that have all the signs of newly emerged queens.

On a trivia tangent, I found this plant growing on my land several years ago. You might find the history a bit interesting. The flowers range from an inch to 2 inches across making them rather showy. I've never seen a honeybee working the flowers so have no idea who or what pollinates them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoria_mariana aka butterfly pea
 

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I can tell 4 of the splits now have virgin queens by the dramatically increased washboarding at the entrance.
Fusion_power:

I appreciate the update. So I must confess that I have never heard about washboarding being indicative of internal colony dynamics. In your experience does it's presence or absence yield some clues as to what is going on internally?

I see the 'butterfly pea' is native to Kentucky but I have never encountered this one. Looks like an impressive late-season bloomer.

Thank you for the feedback.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #46
Washboarding is a fall activity that healthy queenright colonies engage in the most. A queenless hive will have a few washboarding bees. This changes dramatically when a virgin queen emerges with about 4 times as many washboarding bees compared to a queenless nuc. This can't be used as a queenright indicator in spring, however, the behavior of a queenright nuc is almost always calmer with more bees out foraging. When a queenless hive/nuc is opened, bees make a distressed buzzing roar that is very distinctive.

Butterfly peas are impressive because the flowers are so large relative to the plant. I've grown Sword Beans (Canavalia Gladiata) that have similar size flowers but are on plants 5 times larger than a butterfly pea. The flowers on sword beans are pretty but not so impressive in perspective.
 

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Washboarding is a fall activity that healthy queenright colonies engage in the most. A queenless hive will have a few washboarding bees. This changes dramatically when a virgin queen emerges with about 4 times as many washboarding bees compared to a queenless nuc.
Thank you for your reply, Fusion_power. This is a good observational technique to keep tucked-away for future reference. Seeing you post frequently on growingfruit.org, I get the impression you know even more about botany than apiculture- and that is saying something because you are a wealth of knowledge about bees!

Thanks again for your feedback and for posting your thoughts regarding what you are seeing. It helps us novices learn how to interpret what we see.
 

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Discussion Starter #48
The hive that was not aggressively washboarding was indeed still queenless. They have about 8 nice looking queen cells that have been sealed a couple of days. I might harvest a few of them and put them into other colonies this weekend. What happened to the cell I put into this hive? It was missing as in torn down entirely with nothing remaining including the base. Why did this happen? I gave this colony a cell a few hours after removing their queen. Had I waited another day, they would probably have accepted it. It is not much of a loss and perhaps might even be a gain as I get a few more decent cells from the same breeder.

A quick check of the two splits from the hot hive showed queen cells torn down which is a sure indicator they are now queenright. This indicates a virgin present that should be flying to mate over the next week.
 

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Discussion Starter #50
Results: One colony with 4 frames of brood with sealed brood on 3 combs. Two colonies with queens that just started laying. Two colonies hopelessly queenless. I gave a frame of brood to one of the queenless because they are strong enough and have young enough bees to raise a queen. One of them will be combined with a queenright split so they can make it through winter.

The colony with a very good laying queen and 4 frames of brood just happens to be the colony with Langstroth frames that I am going to give to SquarePeg. Be on the lookout for this one SP, she shows early signs of being one of the best queens I've raised.
 

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Discussion Starter #53
It is always best to wait until a new queen has her own brood hatching before moving or otherwise disturbing them. This brood was sealed a day or two ago so should emerge in about 10 days. They are also attempting to draw comb so I may put in a few more frames with foundation to get them better set up for winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #54 (Edited)
Geoff Williams with Auburn University came out today and collected bee and mite samples from 8 of my colonies at one apiary location. I have only taken mite counts from one or two colonies over the years so today was rather eye opening. Criteria was that each colony sampled had to be at least 2 years old, not treated, not manipulated to reduce mites. I had 8 colonies that met these criteria. i have not treated since the winter of 2004/2005. I routinely split very strong colonies in spring to prevent swarming so these colonies represent the 8 that were not split. I do not manipulate my bees to reduce mite counts by for example cutting out drone brood. We found plenty of hive beetles in all colonies. We found drones in 4 out of the 8 colonies with 2 colonies having most of the drones. Samples were taken as 500 bees for DNA extraction, 300 bees were used for an alcohol wash.

#1 - 29 mites, 9.7%, Buckfast daughter
#2 - 12 mites, 4.0%
#3 - 8 mites, 2.7%
#4 - 2 mites, 0.7%
#5 - 4 mites, 1.4%
#6 - 17 mites, 5.7%
#7 - 23 mites, 7.7%
#8 - 35 mites, 11.7%, queen raised this year, colony had problems last year but made it through winter.

#8 showed stress from mites which was mostly shown by a low overall population. #1 was deliberately included as a check. She is a Buckfast daughter mated to mite resistant drones. If you read carefully through the percentages, half of these colonies could be considered resistant to highly resistant. Sample size is obviously small so don't read too much into it.

The 500 bee sample will be sent to Switzerland for further tests.
 

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nice report dar. your numbers look better than the samples dr. williams took here in jackson county yesterday from navy bee's and flatrockboy's yards.

over here the mite infestation ranged from about 7% to 17% in the seven colonies sampled. these numbers were similar to the handful of counts i had taken in previous years and reported in my thread.

there were a couple of colonies with dwindled populations too small to pull samples from, but generally speaking those sampled looked pretty good population-wise for this time of year, even the ones with the highest counts.

given the high infestation it appears we may not be seeing so much resistance here but more tolerance to the mites and their associated viruses.

our samples are being sent to switzerland to be analyzed for genetic markers and compared with samples taken from tf colonies in europe.
 

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Exciting developments Fusion and SP. Thank you for keeping us all posted on what the bio-markers uncover.

Thank you both again for the updates.

Have a great weekend.

Russ
 

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nice report dar. your numbers look better than the samples dr. williams took here in jackson county yesterday from navy bee's and flatrockboy's yards.

over here the mite infestation ranged from about 7% to 17% in the seven colonies sampled. these numbers were similar to the handful of counts i had taken in previous years and reported in my thread.

there were a couple of colonies with dwindled populations too small to pull samples from, but generally speaking those sampled looked pretty good population-wise for this time of year, even the ones with the highest counts.

given the high infestation it appears we may not be seeing so much resistance here but more tolerance to the mites and their associated viruses.

our samples are being sent to switzerland to be analyzed for genetic markers and compared with samples taken from tf colonies in europe.
Navy bees and Flatrockboy´s ? They are your bee yards?

If you read carefully through the percentages, half of these colonies could be considered resistant to highly resistant. .
Dam it would be great if someone inseminated and made crossing with the offspring of the best four.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
it would be great if someone inseminated and made crossing with the offspring of the best four.
I'm going to move the 4 most susceptible colonies to a different location in a few weeks. This will leave only the most resistant for next year's queen production. It is not an ideal system, but will increase the likelihood of mating to drones that carry mite resistant traits.

I have more colonies that can be tested to see if any have very low counts. If I move only the most resistant to this location, the odds improve a good bit.

The queen with the lowest mite count is golden/orange on most of her abdomen. She should make some very pretty daughters... that are also mite resistant.
 

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Navy bee's and Flatrockboy's ? They are your bee yards?
these are two other beekeepers that started a few years ago with nucs from my yards. they have since made splits with those and caught additional swarms from the area.

the efb outbreak left me with only one colony suitable for sampling, but there was not enough time in the day to get to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #60
Temps hit 68 degrees about 1:00 pm with bright sun so I opened the 3 nucs up that I have at my house. The nuc that I've set aside for SquarePeg was strong on bees but short on stores. I gave them 1/2 gallon of honey that I saved for the purpose. With a bit of luck, this should be enough to get them through winter and into spring. The second nuc had about 10 frames each of which was half full of sealed honey. I left them alone. The 3rd nuc had maybe 3/4 of a frame of honey and desperately needs to be fed. I mixed up some syrup with about a cup of honey and will give it to them tomorrow. I had to let it cool down as I mixed it over heat to get very thick syrup. One colony out on my land needs to be fed. I have a box of honey waiting for them, just have to make time to move it to their colony. The reason they are short on stores is that I used them to make nucs a few months ago which depleted the colony quite a bit both of bees and drawn combs with honey.
 
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