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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My understanding is a brood break throws off the mites reproductive timeing this causing less mites. So if this is the case are we realy getting anything out of the break or are we just moving the mite load problem later into the season? Is there something else happening during a brood break that stops the mite from reproducing?
 

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One way to look at it is as a % of mite infested brood. A well times brood break arrests the increasing % of brood that are damaged at the time when it really starts to accelerate. Then if, as I do, you use Mel Disselkoens method of using a newly mated queen mid-summer she lays at a rate that reduces the % of mite infested brood.
The effect of this is that the % of mite infested brood is less than the threshold that impacts overwintering. In the spring the queen accelerates again and you can make a crop of honey or bees.
I am not aware of any mite # data, as far as I am aware there is no university studying the method. The mite can't reproduce without the open larva to crawl into. There is elegance in Mel's method. http://www.mdasplitter.com/
Combining Mel's timing principles, and Mike Palmer's nuc growing method has allowed me to grow my apiary in a self-sustaining manner.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MatoOA9TapA
 

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I look at it this way. You can lose bees to mites or you can loose bees to brood breaks. The difference is in the number of mites at the end of the losses. And the mites are going to come back. Once the break for the bees is over it is over for the mites as well. I do take some consideration that swarming is the bees way of causing a brood break. I am not so sure that most hitchhiking mites would not get groomed off the bees during a swarm as well. The bees remained clustered for quite a while even after locating to a new cavity. With the bees dog piled like that for an extended time I would suspect that many mites get discovered and eliminated. This would be a significant difference in behavior from just a brood break of an otherwise normal hive.

In all I do not consider brood breaks and swarming strictly apple to apple comparisons.

Then consider the only time I have seen mites on any of my bees has been from swarms I have captured or two colonies I made from a cut out after they spent their week or two all clustered up.

If you are going to loose bees anyway. May as well be beneficial to them as much as possible.
 

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Adrian,
I concur with Mel's system. Very simple and a key is it is sustainable: the mites can't adapt to the disruption.

I'm curious about Palmer's methods. What is the key there from your perspective?
 

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I had brood breaks and drone frames and 4.9 cell brood frames in most my hives last year and still had high mite loads by mid JULY . I think brood breaks may help but alone won't do crap .
I still ended up treating in the FALL .
Hoping this year is different last year was the first time I ever treated my hives and I had a pile of VARROA this year maybe the bees can keep the mites in check. I will be doing alcohol wash's this year to keep a eye on mite loads and plan on treating only if things get bad. Still cold in these parts.
 

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John, I am working with Michael's methods. first adopting the policy to keep nucs to support my production colonies. This is the first year that is happening in a significant way. last year nucs served to simply provide increase. btu tis year they are serving to boost straggling colonies and build up the strong ones even more. Of my 10 nucs I used 6 of them to make up my first cell building colony per Michael's method of sustainable queen rearing. The remaining 4 will help get two struggling first year colonies.

In both cases the significance I see is accomplishing the goal without weakening colonies. In the case of nucs I can increase while strengthening my other colonies not weakening them. In queen rearing I see it even more dramatically. I have one colony that I intend to rear as many as 135 grafted cells in and in the process that same colony will not be depleted it will be strengthened by the method. It will still produce a honey crop. It started off strong and is in the process of becoming much stronger. IT is getting that way through the management of nucs.

To me nucs are like having a second queen in every colony. except if you actually had a 2 queen colony you are stuck just letting those queens build that one colony stronger and stronger even if it is not needed. With nucs I can put that additional strength wherever it is needed when it is needed. I have some hives that are 5 boxes tall already. Some that are still only 4. and a couple that are still just a deep and a medium. I have 10 nucs and all of them need to have brood and bees removed from them.

Now neither of my straggling hives are sick. they are just at a disadvantage. One got robbed heavily the other was simply never more than a weak hive that went through winter weak. I could boost each with 3 to 4 frames of brood and bees and give them some help in catching up. Once I see them recovering that additional brood from the nucs can then go to all hives that are 3 boxes tall. and then add it to hives that are only 4 boxes tall. until all my hives are at the 5 boxes tall that my strongest hives are at. And nothing got weakened in the process. the nucs are intended to be kept nucs and they exist to provide additional resources for my production hives. they are not doing anything they where not intended to do.
 

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Breeding bugs results in an exponential curve. It starts out slow and then goes faster and faster. The brood break crashes the faster and faster rate for the mite but only slightly affects the faster and faster rate of the bee.
 

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Excellent, Daniel. Thanks for taking time to share.

How do you ensure you are not perpetuating bad stock or disease with this method?

Are you using Mel's OTS method for queen rearing?
 

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Let's change the scale. If a raise horses and I only keep the mares (to simplify the math) and I breed every mare every year, I double the population of horses at my place every year. Assuming half of those are stud colts and I get rid of them I have increased the population of horses to 150% of what it was before I bred them. If I skip a year, the horse population stays the same. e.g. I have 100 mares and I breed them all and they all have foals and I sell off the males, I now have 150 mares. The next year I breed 150 mares and have 150 foals and sell off the males so I now have 375 mares. The next year I breed 375 mares have 375 foals and sell of the males so I now have 562 mares. What would happen if I skipped a breeding cycle back there at the beginning? If I skipped the first breeding cycle then instead of 562 horses, I'd now have 375 horses. Did that have an impact on the population?

This is exaggerated with the mites as they don't have half male offspring. If you go from 1 mite to 2 in the first brood cycle and 2 to 4 in the second and 4 to 8 in the third, any skip in a brood cycle halves the number at the end and that is ignoring any attrition due to age or getting groomed off during that break. After all they are getting older in the meantime.
 

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any skip in a brood cycle halves the number at the end and that is ignoring any attrition due to age or getting groomed off during that break.
Maybe I'm just too dense Michael but I don't follow. It appears to me that during an extended brood break both the populations of bees and mites remain in about the same proportion. Both populations are ageing and some of each die during that period but I don't imagine the relative infestation rate drops.
The only sensible explanation I've heard is that following the brood break the mites are so determined to reproduce that the first batch of new bee brood will be especially highly infested and much of it will die before emerging...and so that generation of mites will fail. Having said that, to my thinking, this would only impact the relative mite/bee ratio if the foundress mites died as well.
Otherwise...the logic defies me.
 

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Beemandan

I am definitely not an expert on Mel's method, but from what I understand, the mites breed at a much faster rate than the bees. So, they increase exponentially at a much faster rate than the bees increase. So, if nothing is done to stop the mite breeding, they will outbreed the bees. Mel's method is designed to impact the mite load to readdress the relative infestation.
 

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I am definitely not an expert on Mel's method
I am not either. I've read some of his stuff a long time ago....I don't recall the details of it but do recall that I wasn't impressed at the time. Doesn't mean he's not right....it simply didn't make sense to me. And, I don't plan on a reread at this point.....
 

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I've really got to get to the beeyards but...here's my thinking.
You've got a 3% mite infestation i.e. 3 mites per 100 bees. You interrupt brood production for a month. At the end of that month....what will the mite/bee infestation rate be?
If you can explain why it would be significantly lower than 3%....I'll listen.
 

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The way I understand it is by knocking down the bees population curve at a critical time (before they reach critical mass) you can avoid that inevitable period where there is more mites then bees when they slow down brood rearing. Randy Oliver's work on varroa population dynamics can help you to understand this. There is however no hard and fast peer reviewed studies that I can find about varroa populations and brood breaks. All the studies of this effect are for treatments. He is also coupling this with his OTS queen rearing techniques as I understand it, you are creating a brood break of about 30 days, as they develop a queen. But assuming that there are eggs, and the mites will have somewhere to reproduce it turns out to be a brood break of 10 +/- days (I think, dont quote me on that). Furthermore, he goes on to point out that when you have your queen begin to lay all the varroa will rush into the first 20-30 cells about to get capped. In worker cells 1-2 mites can live comfortably and any more then that they will suffocate and die.

I think this is a good method worth some serious investigation, but would be very dependent on your season, and when they reach critical mass in brood population. Hes in Michigan and im in Ontario so it "should" be similar.

Another interesting point he made was that by going queenless before your flow, the bees do not have to feed brood and you will actually have MORE honey. However, if you have multiple flows then you would have a severely reduced population of bees and that would affect production.
 

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John, I am working with Michael's methods. first adopting the policy to keep nucs to support my production colonies. This is the first year that is happening in a significant way. last year nucs served to simply provide increase. btu tis year they are serving to boost straggling colonies and build up the strong ones even more. Of my 10 nucs I used 6 of them to make up my first cell building colony per Michael's method of sustainable queen rearing. The remaining 4 will help get two struggling first year colonies.

In both cases the significance I see is accomplishing the goal without weakening colonies. In the case of nucs I can increase while strengthening my other colonies not weakening them. In queen rearing I see it even more dramatically. I have one colony that I intend to rear as many as 135 grafted cells in and in the process that same colony will not be depleted it will be strengthened by the method. It will still produce a honey crop. It started off strong and is in the process of becoming much stronger. IT is getting that way through the management of nucs.

To me nucs are like having a second queen in every colony. except if you actually had a 2 queen colony you are stuck just letting those queens build that one colony stronger and stronger even if it is not needed. With nucs I can put that additional strength wherever it is needed when it is needed. I have some hives that are 5 boxes tall already. Some that are still only 4. and a couple that are still just a deep and a medium. I have 10 nucs and all of them need to have brood and bees removed from them.

Now neither of my straggling hives are sick. they are just at a disadvantage. One got robbed heavily the other was simply never more than a weak hive that went through winter weak. I could boost each with 3 to 4 frames of brood and bees and give them some help in catching up. Once I see them recovering that additional brood from the nucs can then go to all hives that are 3 boxes tall. and then add it to hives that are only 4 boxes tall. until all my hives are at the 5 boxes tall that my strongest hives are at. And nothing got weakened in the process. the nucs are intended to be kept nucs and they exist to provide additional resources for my production hives. they are not doing anything they where not intended to do.
i have made nucs in the past. this will be my first season of using them to strengthen hives. im really excited about it....and many other things for this season :)
 

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The only sensible explanation I've heard is that following the brood break the mites are so determined to reproduce that the first batch of new bee brood will be especially highly infested and much of it will die before emerging...and so that generation of mites will fail.
There is plenty written in varroa biology that they don't mate well in crowded conditions. I would assume this would be at least one of the factors that changes the population dynamics of the varroa when using a brood break.
 

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Actually there are two brood breaks in the ots method. The only hive that doesn't is the queen that's pulled in the spring. The resulting splits are 30 days w/o a laying queen, then at summer solstice all queens are dispatched or in the case of production left to dwindle.
The one thing that hasn't been mentioned is the queens that start laying in the fall, will be as Mel puts it " a fresh mare compared to a old nag, she has the ability to outbreed the mites". Basically your going into winter with a queen laying longer and less bees damaged by mites.
As far as the hive population, yes it does drop, but the new queen quickly catches up because you have all the reserves built up from the queenless period.
 

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I'm late back to the party. I was going to put an answer similar to post #7. I am using nucs as the basis of my apiary. There was one point not made. I saw a study in ABJ a while back that said that it is raising brood that ages the nurse bees, that broodless bees live longer. If you can accept this, it isn't much of a stretch to see that if you had a mite infestation of 3% in a hive and you split during the time that there was no brood there would be some attrition, how much noone knows. If you have made 4 splits the mite infestation would still be 3% for the total number of bees, but you now have the bees in 4 colonies, and so think of the percentage of mite infestation differently. Instead of one individual queen trying to outbreed the mites in the fall there are now 4 queens in 4 different colonies dealing with a much lower mite infestation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
How much of these ideas still hold up when you add in a large bee yard with palletized hives and bee or drone drift?
 
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