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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm watching, in real time, swarm scouts inspect a super on a stack of empties in my drive (best swarm trap ever). One feature that is noticeable as the scouts move in and out the entrance hole is even the scouts have very distended abdomens. Swarms are known to "tank up" on honey before leaving the home nest, but it is interesting that the scouts that much fly further and faster are also recruited to carry the payload.

This observation led me to a further thought.
1. I find the majority of phoretic varroa on dissection deeply embedded between the overlapping ventral scales of the abdomen.
2. Distended abdomens do not provide this refuge for the Varroa
3. Newly hived swarms have a halcyon period of virtually Varroa free existence.
4. Varroa are displaced by the physical process of "tanking up" exposing them to grooming behavior.
--- So ---
I wonder if heavy smoking and blown or shook bees could be used to virtualize a swarm. Generating the displacement by smoke-induced gorging and increasing the opportunity of grooming off the pests. I wonder if some of the folk Varroa remedies (Creosote smoke from Larrea, Walnut smoke, Juniper smoke) are a echo of this principal.

Pix shows the "scout" congregation inspecting the entrance hole. Abdomens (as illustrated by color bands) are distended. Swarms not my own -- satisfying feeling knowing that bee's are flying over the fence into your yard.

IMG_9661.jpg
 

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That's an interesting observation! Have you ever dissected swarm scouts to see if you hypothesis is supported?


On a related note, could you describe your dissection techniques? Can one use "run of the hive" dead bees, or is it better euthanize a live sample for dissection purposes? I don't have a microscope, so I can't look for tracheal mites, only what can be seen using a hand lens. Thanks.

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I euthanize live hive (nurse ?) bees periodically. Sentimentally, I want the sugar roll test to be accurate, but the alcohol wash produces more Varroa. The euthanize and dissection under a 40x binocular scope have been done to trace the source of the differences in the two Varroa tests -- one toxic to the bees and the other benign.

I euthanize in a standard insect kill jar (a plaster base soaked in ethanol). This leaves a pristine, dry bee that is easily dissected. Bees could be dissected under a hand lens, but a binocular scope is easier on old eyes. New little handheld computer-connected scopes can let you do "heads-up" dissection on a big screen. The entry level devices are cheaper than the traditional dissecting stage.
 

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before the varroa got here george blake jr. (auburn university apiary studies) had been somewhere studying them and tobacco smoke was being used heavily. apparently it didn't work out.
 
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