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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was just pondering something concerning drone brood and varroa, instead of removing sealed drone combs and putting them in the freezer overnight, wouldn't it be easier to go through the brood nest and scrape off the drone cell cappings with a scratcher and just put them back in the hive immediately. Seems like the bees would remove the immature drone brood and immature mites, if there are any, and toss them. You would probably have to do this soon after the drone cells are capped to make sure that you are getting very immature drone brood and not brood ready to emerge.
 

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this works fine if you have one hive but is not very efficient, thus the developement of "drone frames" that have the size that encourages the queen to lay all drones. left alone she will lay drones in the corners and small sections of ever frame in the brood nest. every time you pull all the frames in the brood nest you run the risk of injury or worse to the queen. she is surprisingly delicate. good luck,mike
 

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I wonder about the act of scraping the cappings off the drone cells, thus causing the bees to remove and eject the drone brood. What of the mites in the drone cells, when the brood is removed? Would they die, or would some of them move to a new host? Seems like the idea of removing drone frames and freezing them is to capture adult female mites, and dispose of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
this works fine if you have one hive but is not very efficient, thus the developement of "drone frames" that have the size that encourages the queen to lay all drones. left alone she will lay drones in the corners and small sections of ever frame in the brood nest. every time you pull all the frames in the brood nest you run the risk of injury or worse to the queen. she is surprisingly delicate. good luck,mike
I agree with you on it being more work, but putting in the "drone frames" does'nt necessarily mean that the queen will lay all the drone eggs in just those frames, she probably will continue to lay them here and there throughout the brood nest anyway. I will say I am not speaking from experience here with drone frames, but I find it hard to believe that it works that easy. Besides, if a queen is spending all her time laying drone eggs on that frame, she is not laying as many workers which should be her goal and ours. IMO, in a heavily mite infested hive, drone frames "may" help get things under control somewhat, by providing plenty of drone cells for the mites to jump into.
 

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jmgi says"IMO, in a heavily mite infested hive, drone frames "may" help get things under control somewhat, by providing plenty of drone cells for the mites to jump into."
this is the crux of the mite problem. there is no magic bullet. there are a number of thigs that help, but by themselves they are inadequate. thus the acronym IPM- integrated pest management. good luck,mike
 

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The trick to thinking about drone frames (or any other pest treatment, really) is to remember that you're trying to keep the number of pests under some level (threshold), not necessarily eliminate every pest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree that multiple management techniques are required for natural varroa control, but I'm just not sold on the drone frame idea, seems that the risk/reward balance is not tipped in our favor with frames that encourage drone production in excess of what would be natural, even with mites preference for drone brood. I hope I don't sound like a know-it-all, I'm just trying to learn more about varroa's characteristics from anyone who has something to add to the discussion. The last time I had bees before last year was back in the late 70's, pre-varroa days. So, I have alot of catching up to do with the current problems in the honey bee world.
 

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wouldn't it be easier to go through the brood nest and scrape off the drone cell cappings with a scratcher and just put them back in the hive immediately. Seems like the bees would remove the immature drone brood and immature mites, if there are any, and toss them.
A friend of mine who runs about 1,000 colonies carrys a large knife w/ him while working his bees. When he comes across a capped drone comb he slices the cappings like he was going to extract the comb and then he knocks the drone pupae out onto the ground. Sometimes he will leave the comb standing up against the colony for the skunks to feed on. He likes skunks. They remind him of his youth, when he used to trap and skin them.

Certainly it interrupts the varroas' reproductive cycle.
 

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I just keep a couple empty frames in the drone areas of each colony. Especially in the spring, once they've drawn out drone comb in them and laid it up, I cut it out and huck it to the chickens before the drones emerge. It's like baiting and freezing, but without having to do the freezing/returning bit. Works great for IPM varroa reduction.
 

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Randy Oliver had a method of harvesting drone comb as a means of varroa control. He had deep frames w/ a bar one third (I think) way down, so foundation was only in the upper part. This frame was put in the third or fourth position so after he cut out the capped drone comb it would get rebuilt. He harvested the drone comb from these frames and I'm not sure what he did w/ it.

I say used to because i don't know if he is still doing this. He also sugar dusted his hives for varroa control.
 

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I read Randy's article on that. he melts the drone comb down. Says it's a great source of new wax.

I considered that method of mite control, but am going to try foundationless first. I liked Michael Bush't comments about shorter capping times and shorter post capping times with natural cell. He says it does a good job of interrupting the mite life cycle.
 

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instead of removing sealed drone combs and putting them in the freezer overnight, wouldn't it be easier to go through the brood nest and scrape off the drone cell cappings with a scratcher and just put them back in the hive immediately. .
I did this all last year because I could not get organized with the freezing regimen. It is more time consuming and a little bit gross. I found that I had to wack the crap out of the frame to get the drones all out- several times on each side. On a positive note, it gives you a great look at how many mites you have in the drone cells.
 

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all of these methods require that the hive not be "drone right" to begin with.

the bees want _some_ number of drones. using all worker foundation makes the very difficult for the bees (hence drone comb in the honey supers if there is no excluder/honeycap, drones between boxes). if a full foundationless frame is filled with drones, your colony is not drone right.

when a colony is not drone right, they will try to correct things the best they can (drone comb between boxes, drone comb where the cells are supple enough to rework). if you let the bees raise the drones to a capped stage, they have put in a huge amount of resources (drawn comb, raised and fed the drones through capping, etc). drones are big and require a lot of food before capping...and once you uncap them, cut them out, feed them to chickens, etc...the bees _still_ want those drones (as they are trying to be drone right), and will start over again given any oppurtunity.

if you put in a foundationless frame into the brood nest and the bees quickly fill it with drone comb (and brood...not honey), this is a sure sign that the bees are not drone right.

deknow
 
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