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Exactly the point is bees are small and YOU can't help the bees if you are not checking and managing your bees.

They are not like cattle or anything else for that matter.

Man either improves the bees chances of health and survival or he helps or causes them to crash. Beekeepers are not to be abusers but partners with the bees. They provide income, healthy food, pollination ect. We provide them with a dry suitable home, decent locations, food if they dearly need it, queens if they have an emergency, we split hives to follow the bees natural tendency to reproduce and we should avoid excess chemicals when possible.
Making increase via a systematic health-seeking selection scheme is another, and more fundamental form of management, and will make a vast difference compared to the entirely unnatural practice of making splits more or less at random. In this bees and cattle are no different.

Mike (UK)
 

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after seeing the error of my ways all colonies will be considered for honey production until proven otherwise and only nonproductive/swarmy colonies and caught swarms will be used for splitting into nucs.
... using only selected genetic material SP? I'm harping on here I know... but all the time this idea is left out, beginners are forming the view that bee husbandry entails only 'splitting'.

Its critical that we scotch the widespread view that 'husbandry' entails 'looking after bees' and shift it to 'involves looking after bee genetics'

'Treatment free' is about not having to treat because you have been attending to genetic husbandry. Period.

Mike (UK)
 

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the 'error' was determining in advance that one yard would be used for honey production and the second yard would be used for nuc production. the result was that some potentially productive hives got split up into nucs.

i realized that using one yard for this and another yard for that was too arbitrary and what makes more sense is to give every colony a chance to be productive and deselect the laggards a la mike palmer's approach.

had i done that last year i would have more colonies going into their third winter and the average age of my colonies would be a little higher. no huge crisis there but colony longevity is a metric that i am interested in and looking to see if i experience more problems with varroa as the colonies get older.
 

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after seeing the error of my ways all colonies will be considered for honey production until proven otherwise and only nonproductive/swarmy colonies and caught swarms will be used for splitting into nucs.
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Splitting swarmy, nonproductive colonies is an excellent practice as long as you give them a queen raised from one of your best colonies. If you let those splits raise their own queen you are selectively breeding for colonies that are nonproductive and swarmy and in a few years will have nothing else. Never raise a queen from a swarm cell for this reason. Every time you raise a queen from a swarm cell you are selectively breeding for swarming.
 

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agreed dr. cryberg. these splits are provided with grafted cells from colonies with proven survival and production, as well as having responded positively to swarm prevention measures. many thanks for following here.
 

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>providing syrup can confuse a colony into thinking that there is a strong flow on which in turn can affect their brooding behavior and i suppose the mite population as well.<

Interesting! What about leaving them some of their own honey the whole year through? This will be store, not nectar, is the effect the same?
 

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What about leaving them some of their own honey the whole year through? This will be store, not nectar, is the effect the same?
i believe so. i tend to have honey on the hives all year round. when i make nucs/splits i try to give honey frames to them. going into winter i'll give honey frames from the heavy hives to the light ones. this is not only to ensure they have enough to keep from starving, but also because the reserves are used for brooding as they come out of winter thereby making the colonies stronger for the spring honeyflow.

as mentioned, i gave some thin syrup to starter colonies this year because my queenrearing schedule put the new queen's getting mated just as we were entering our summer dearth and i wanted to stimulate brooding in order to get them building up for fall.

other than situations like that, i like to let the colonies brood up and down on the availability or not of natural flows. what i find is that changes in brooding typically preceed the onset of the flows and the dearths by a few weeks suggesting that these bees are programmed to anticipate those changes.
 

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at this point I'm actually hoping to loose one or two this winter so I have the available comb to help prevent swarming with some of my stronger colonies come spring.
understood harley and lharder. while a loss is a loss, the resources can definitely be parlayed into strengthening the surviving hives. for those of us limited to a given number of hives the culling of the ones who can't make it also serves make room for more promising stock, and over time the overall vigor of the apiary may be improved. i'm just now at the point where i believe i am seeing that happen here.
 

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i don't feel as though i'm either helping them to survive nor causing them to crash by doing this, and that what i'm doing and not doing is pretty much 'survival neutral'.
You're helping to limit the obvious "danger" or roll of the dice that is getting a queen returned from mating flights.
Selecting for bees that aren't good at mating flights is what it sounds like to me. :D :D

Kidding obviously.
 

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Selecting for bees that aren't good at mating flights is what it sounds like to me. :D :D

Kidding obviously.

I know this is in jest, but I don't think you can select for dragonfly resistance. LOL my have are 20 ft and less from a pond, when dragonfly population hits it's peak about mid june, my mating success drops big time.
 

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Oldtimer the ferals have an easy temperament. Chuckreborn my queens are Beeweaver. I plan on adding Anarchy lines in the spring. I dont think anyone has answered the question about non interventions. Can they survive without our assistance?
Can they survive without our assistance? In general yes = bees can survive without our assistance. Can YOUR bees survive in YOUR box without assistance [indefinitely]? No.

I run BeeWeaver, Anarchy, and some very strong feral stock. I've worked hives with some of the TF gurus and they do intervene routinely with a universal panacea - they requeen when there is an issue (Poor brood pattern, DWV, aggressive, runny, etc.). If you do not requeen with young strong genetics then you have left them to work with genetics that are likely lacking.

Virgin queen genetics will vary within a line, drone genetics will vary and of course she breeds with multiple drones = There's a primordial soup of genetics amongst the bees in a hive and additional variation from hive to hive using sister queens. Starting with good genetics stacks the odds in your favor (more than you likely yet realize). But at some point even the best genetics will show signs of aging. I've had some hives handle a supercedure just fine and others go queenless. If you aren't going to breed your own queens then you need a queen breeder (or several) that you trust and believe in that can reliably provide you with replacements when you need them.

When you move away from having "X" number of hives and begin thinking of them as a collection of resources, "intervention" becomes part of the game plan and "survive" looks a little different.
 

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I know this is in jest, but I don't think you can select for dragonfly resistance. LOL my have are 20 ft and less from a pond, when dragonfly population hits it's peak about mid june, my mating success drops big time.
That would frustrate me greatly. We have some a stone's throw from the Mississippi and haven't had any issue with them. Maybe they're too busy on the river eating whatever they usually eat.

I don't like seeing them buzzing around my yard, but on occasion there will be one or two. I'd have my mating nucs somewhere else if I had that situation.
 

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I had a similar problem this year Harley. It could have been my lousy queens, but the wasps have built up big time this year and they were always around picking off crawlers and looking for an opening. They managed to take out one new nuc I put together and I'm sure they took out a few queens as well. The nests weren't on my property or they would have been gone.

SP, I have a new yard this year and as its turned out, I put my nucs out there. So much easier to move. But there was some rationalization with that strategy. I don't have proven tf stock, though I brought in queens from programs that cared about varroa, so they can be considered resistant. My first hives are going through their second winter this year. If they become mite ridden, I don't want the new nucs exposed to them. Plus nucs tend to get beat up on in a dearth if they are around big hives. So at this point I will keep the age classes separate.

Having any hive that survives its second winter will be a bit of a milestone for me. Managing a 2nd year hive will also be new to me. They will be my breeding stock for next year, I will also raise some daughters from queens I brought in this year.
 

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>I have been researching treatment free bee keeping and have come to the conclusion that hives cannot survive without some form of interventions.

There are an awful lot of us doing it for it to be impossible. According to Tom Seeley's latest works, the density of feral bees in the Arnot forest, which he has been studying since the 1970's is the same now as it was in the '70s.

>Wont the mites eventually win even with the best treatment free genetics?

Genetics is important at least a little to everything--wintering ability, being in tune with the flows, hardiness, vigor etc., tracheal mites and probably somewhat in regards to Varroa, but in my experience it's not the deciding factor in Varroa issues.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beessctheories.htm
 

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That would frustrate me greatly. We have some a stone's throw from the Mississippi and haven't had any issue with them. Maybe they're too busy on the river eating whatever they usually eat.

I don't like seeing them buzzing around my yard, but on occasion there will be one or two. I'd have my mating nucs somewhere else if I had that situation.

I think I'm going to load up some 410 loads with salt and do some house cleaning next yr. It's a very small " pond" it was originally a little duck pond about 30 ft diameter about 3.5 ft deep. Had goldfish in it but two yrs ago it dried completely up and killed them all. Maybe next yr I'll re- stock with gold fish or some small bluegills to help with the water bug population. Any given day I would see 40-50 dragon flies out there.............then again, maybe that is why everyone else around me freaks out about small hive beetles and I don't really see more than a few in my hives???? at some point I want to move my mating nucs to a yard about 10 miles away near my buddies place. He maintains TF bees for several years now and has a lot of feral bee tree colonies that have made it through at least 5 winters now, would love to run my queens under some of those drones.
 

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... when dragonfly population hits it's peak about mid june, my mating success drops big time.
Around here it's the emergence of robber flies. My queen mating success goes from 85% down to about 40% when they come onto the scene.
 

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I have a question concerning a supercedure which I think took place inside this hive.
http://solarbeez.com/2015/10/24/the-grand-kids-are-back/
The Grand Kids Log hive attracted a natural swarm on May 13. It built up natural comb without any help from me giving it sugar water, but then it stopped building comb sometime in June-July. In September I could see the traffic at the entrance was decreasing. Looking through the observation window I could see very few bees inside. I just knew this hive was going down, but in early October the number of bees started increasing and now there's a bunch.
Since I'm treatment/inspection free on this hive, I'm wondering if the queen just took a long brood break (possibly a natural mite control) or did the colony supercede? If the colony superceded, wouldn't the old queen have laid the new queen eggs? And the drones I started seeing, wouldn't they be the brothers of the new queens? So the virgin queen goes out to get mated, surely she's not going to mate with her brothers? And yet at this time of year, there can't be too many drones in a congregation area, or are there?
 

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Probably more than you think. Primary swarms usually have older queens so supercedure is not uncommon later on love your hives BTW

Edit : just looked at your linked blog post those drones could have been from anywhere in my limited experience when you see a lot of drone interest in a particular hive they typically have a queen getting ready to mate or just had one return
 
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