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GWW:

Thank you for the article link- I have been searching for a copy of the full research to no avail.

In looking for it, I came across the following research from Piccirillo and De Jong from their work with Africanized bees. It is old (2003) but I had never heard this concept put forth- namely:

'Within the range where there was an overlap in the width of brood cells between old and new combs, which was from 4.5 to 4.9 mm, the old comb cells were over four times more frequently infested with mites than were the new comb cells. Some factor other than cell size makes old brood comb cells much more attractive to V. destructor than newly constructed brood comb.'
 

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Discussion Starter · #663 ·
Update
It looks like i only had one hive that is building up correctly. Today, I did my best to screw that up some.

I took one box away of the three and set it about ten feet away. I am not sure if this box has the queen in it but thought I saw her come on top of a frame for a few and unless I mistakenly took a drone for her, I should be good. I did not shake any extra nurse bees in cause I am not 100 percent sure which hive has the queen.

The top box was heavy and was honey and some brood. I took about three frames from it, honey and one with some brood also and put it on a box on top of the moved box.

The left boxes has a higher buzz to it making me think I got the queen in the other one but it was also the forager hive and so it might just be that more active.

Bees are bringing in pollen in all hives. Of the other four hives, one is dead soon for sure and I believe over all by the brood in them that all four are dead. Super spotty to almost no brood. Bad larva and many many perforated and uncapped brood.

One had a pretty big mix of capped worker sized drone brood along with some normal. Can't see that hive being heathy enough to want drone and so the queen might be effected by mites of some other thing.

I did see drones in the healthy hive and some dry queen cups. So if the split can make a good enough queen with the resources in the split, it should get bred ok.

I am still moving all my old comb around from the dead outs on the guess that what is killing the hives is mites and not efb.

Not a good report for sure but onward I go for now.

Russ, if you read this, I am almost sure that I read one study that said the mite reproduction rate was reduced a bit in the old comb but I am not sure enough for you to rely on this but more to watch for it as you go though all the stuff you read. With your study, even if true, it might be a loss over all.

Tiss all for now.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter · #665 ·
Msl
Yes I see lower preproduction of mite here too but think one study gave percentages like 1.7/1.9 compared to 1.3 rate in old comb or something like that. I am just about hitting your one hundred percent losses lately.
Cheers
gww
 

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uggg
sorry to hear that
 

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Good info, and yet another reason to get rid of that old comb. This year I plan to trash any comb that isn't a nice clean yellow.

Best of luck GWW! Hoping things start looking up.
 

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Msl
Yes I see lower preproduction of mite here too but think one study gave percentages like 1.7/1.9 compared to 1.3 rate in old comb or something like that. I am just about hitting your one hundred percent losses lately.
Cheers
gww
From the same PDF by MSL:
However, Erickson et al.
(1998) found higher infestation rates with
A. woodi (Rennie) in colonies with new combs
than in those with old combs (5.2% vs. 1.2%
respectively). Recently, Hassan (2000) reported
that female V. destructor reproduced more in
new than in old brood combs.
So then which is it?
:)
 

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I am just about hitting your one hundred percent losses lately.
That's too bad.
Because I was using you as one of my examples where the completely hands-off TF was actually working reasonably well.

However, it maybe all that was needed - some minimal bio-technical control.
I understand you have not done any.
Maybe that's all the help that was needed, periodically.
 

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Discussion Starter · #671 ·
Greg
However, it maybe all that was needed - some minimal bio-technical control.
I understand you have not done any.
Maybe that's all the help that was needed, periodically.
Could be.
Cheers
gww
 

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Russ, if you read this, I am almost sure that I read one study that said the mite reproduction rate was reduced a bit in the old comb but I am not sure enough for you to rely on this but more to watch for it as you go though all the stuff you read. With your study, even if true, it might be a loss over all.
GWW:

My apologies for the delay in reply, and I am truly sorry to hear about your troubles. Are things looking up in the swarm catching department?

As we have batted-around from time-to-time, I have always been troubled by the anecdotes of serious TF beekeepers who meet with success initially (even several years in a row) to only then experience an epic collapse that leads them to abandon TF altogether. While I respect everyone's decision to manage bees the way they judge to work best in their particular situation, I have always wondered what (if anything) we can take away from these initial successes followed by heavy losses.

While I am convinced that comb renewal in-and-of-itself is not the answer, I do wonder if the age and condition of the comb has at least some impact on colony viability in a TF setting?

I don't want to go too far out on a limb here, but I just can't shake the idea that new swarm starts (at least here) generally represent the high point of colony health.

Most of the guys I know personally who either previously have or who are currently having a little success with TF have all started with swarms, and the ones who have ultimately had the most trouble have been those who:

1. Have not done any comb renewal and;

2. Have engaged in heavy selection efforts that have sought to lead most of the colonies from a few queen lines.

So while this all may be a classic case of correlation not equating to causation, it has led me to be proactive about looking for means to continually cycle comb and circumspect about making big moves to narrow the gene pool- at least here at the outset until I can know more about the genetics in my neighborhood.

I do hope that you are able to rebuild your apiary and that you don't have an EFB outbreak in your yard. I have been corresponding with a fellow located between you and me who had a heavy EFB setback last year and is still dealing with the effects this year, even after treatment, sanitizing or burning equipment and executing shook swarms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #673 ·
Russ
No swarms yet. My inclination on the rest leans against new queens but not against some splitting of a big portion of stock. I don't do the splitting due to laziness but did a little in the beginning due to being forced by the bees and for knowledge. When I did. I did concentrate on how it would work best for one side of the split mite wise. Things like splitting by age and making a portion start with no brood or comb thinking this would help in some way with mites. I did not even split based on which hives were doing good except in the forced splits to stop swarming impulse.

My problem is I still want to watch more then work. I think I have the knowledge to take a different route with out even doing that much more work but can't seem to want to give up riding out what is going on and just observing it as it happens to see where it goes and whether I come up with work arounds that I like better.

I do not think that the four bad hives will be turned around regardless if it is mite and if efb, I could get some antibiotics but will probably just take the loss rather then try.

It was a bad two years and may stay bad if I keep repeating but still....

None of this means I will never add things to make things better. I may be given no choice but for now am still concentrating more on learning guitar then bees except to make sure I look and see as things happen to put in my brain for later thought.

What I should try with one of the bad hives is shaking them into an empty box and making them start with nothing but doubt I even do that but it is a thought that might hone out your comb thoughts.
Good luck this year.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter · #674 ·
Well, today is another reason to remember why I am a bee haver and not a bee keeper. I was going to get in the hive I split cause I figured 4 days would show queen starts in the queenless side. However, I got in the new position hive which should be young nice bees and where I thought the queen was (or at least hoped where she was.). I looked though most of the frames and there is still quite a bit of capped brood that has not hatched but I could not find the queen and even worse, no real larva that I could see or new laying. I saw no queen starts and the bees seemed to be running around on the comb a bit more then I am used to. Lastly the bees were not very nice in relative fashion to normal and were tracking me and not backing off when I stepped back.

So I went to the original hive and it is loaded with bees and was jumping at me hard enough that I said heck with it I don't need to know. I would have looked for some young larva to move to the other one but said I don't need this. I only got stung once and it will probably not even swell up but heck with it. It was really pretty out and so the bees are just wound up from four days ago or have bigger problems that I am going to wait to solve if I solve it.

Not really proud of myself but it is what it is.
I had my camera out for when I found the queen or cells but as you see, no pictures.
Cheers
gww
 

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None of this means I will never add things to make things better. I may be given no choice but for now am still concentrating more on learning guitar then bees except to make sure I look and see as things happen to put in my brain for later thought.
GWW:

I am sorry to read about your continued bee woes- I am with you that beekeeping is such a dynamic craft, and it is hard for me to both keep up with what the bees are doing, spend enough time in the hives and properly interpret what I see when I do look under the hood. I do respect your right to keep your bees the way you want to, but I wonder if it might be worthwhile to at least test a few for EFB? If nothing else, it would give you the opportunity to either pinpoint the problem or eliminate a possibility.

That said, I won't hold it against you if you don't. FWIW, I find guitar playing equally perplexing and humbling to beekeeping- and I've been playing guitar a lot longer than I've been keeping bees.

Here's hoping you are able to turn the corner in your bee yard real soon.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #676 ·
Russ
I could get a test and find out but even if it was efb, which I sorta doubt but as you say is not ruled out, the question becomes what to do about it. Now that there are vet mandates, I would not act that way and I do have a Mo internet friend that offered me some antibiotics but I will probably pass on his offer even though I know he meant it. You are correct that it might sway some on how I use old comb though.

I could also go a different route and treat though I am sure it is too late except for one hive that is already going gangbusters.

Mostly though, I am too lazy at this point to do the right thing and also just a bit curious of what effect the bad will have one the one good one this year. I did not think I was a "purest" on the treatment free thing but it turns out that I am for now. 5 years is a pretty good run and though I do believe bad things can build up and that there are flukes in life, after the die off. I might be close to a clean point and just sorta want to see. Now I might extend the bad a little bit if efb is the issue by using comb though I should have some two year not in use comb by next year. So if efb might die off in comb in 18 months I would not have to start over. I do have 8 or nine empty hives built that have only ever had wasp in them and so if I decided to really start over with any swarm I caught I would be ready for that too.

I would not say I am out of bees but am not concentrating on them as I should be to be successful. So I am on a bit of a break of sorts but that will probably change for the better but might take a year or two.

I know many things I could try for improvement and may in the future. Even on the split I made, I did nothing but separate a hive in to two places and did not really check for more then capped brood (which looked good) and making sure both had honey. Took a lot for granted rather then being sure. Truthfully, except for flow it should have been a decent gamble and might be in the end but is not the right way to really try and guarantee success. Being this sloppy might mean just taking a bit of a break until my ambition kicks back in.

I will think about the test kit though.
Cheers
gww
 

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I will think about the test kit though.
GWW:

I respect your decision to do whatever you think best- I can appreciate the fact that once you had a diagnosis, it might not change your approach.

For my part, I do like to try to understand what is going on so I might do the test if the tables were turned strictly to satisfy my curiosity.

I'll look forward to reading how your season unfolds- again I am sorry for your troubles.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #678 ·
Russ
Personally, I feel lucky. The last two year were the ones I was expecting every single year Including the very first year.. Now I have not decided direction and am not confident I can do a repeat of the beginning but don't feel I have much to whine about either.
Still, thanks for your thoughts and good luck to you also.

I do have the hive I split pretty angry right now. I was down by it close enough to try and see if they were bringing any pollen coming in and one flew out and stung me in the neck. Dirty dogs.
Cheers
gww
 

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Russ
Personally, I feel lucky. The last two year were the ones I was expecting every single year Including the very first year.. Now I have not decided direction and am not confident I can do a repeat of the beginning but don't feel I have much to whine about either.
Cheers
gww
It's all been fun so far (except the stings). Maybe our mistake is trying to keep all of our bees in a yard together, where they can share diseases. Maybe we should try putting tiny masks on each bee...?

It might be worth letting caught swarms pretty much stay where they originally chose. A bother for management, so except for adding a box on top for volume, it wouldn't be hard to let them build up and steal a split off them now and then to bolster the home bees.
 
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