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GregV:

I enjoyed reading your recent updates and the conversation that followed.

I've said it before, but I do appreciate your pioneering spirit and willingness to try different things.

Hopefully the mini nucs provide you with a steady supply of quality queens, and your strategy of 'queen parking' makes good sense to me- I am all the time reading about folks here in Kentucky urgently looking for queens at odd times through the season and a mated queen would literally be worth her weight in gold.

Keep the updates coming.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #802
Most of my bees are bone dry.
Feeding time.

If you are like me, a cheapskate and/or a fan of recycling/upcycling, here is how feeding looks like.
1 gallon
20200905_173207.jpg
2/3 gallon
20200905_180650.jpg

Zip bags from the Bob's Red Mill products are my favorite.
 

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I want to switch to mini mating nucs with standing (GregV) frames. I use all 10 frame mediums. For mating, I've only used queen castles with 2 big frames per nuc.

Pros
  1. I don't know why I would want to overwinter nucs. It seems counterproductive. These nucs makes it easy to avoid that.
  2. easy to use the frames + boxes in big hives
  3. GregV frames: I don't know how beeks fit normal mini frames between standard frames. With GregV frames that are made to fit in normal frames, this looks easy. I could put them anywhere in any of my hives.
  4. mini frame queen castles:
    a. more heat efficient
    b. More frames per colony gives me flexibility. Frames don't usually have much variety of stores.
My ideas for my new nucs
  1. GregV frames that fit in normal medium frames with good bee space
    a. How many should fit lengthwise?
  2. boxes
    a. queen castles
    b. Ideally they fit on standard 10 fr. boxes. This might involve frames resting on angle stock metal.
  3. nucs
    a. They have enough frames to give me flexibility.
    b. Nucs in the middle of the castle could have less frames because they get more heat.
    c. Should I not add a pollen frame?
    d. Does open brood help to keep bees from leaving, and should I add it?
 

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Discussion Starter #804 (Edited)
........

With GregV frames that are made to fit in normal frames, this looks easy. I could put them anywhere in any of my hives.
..........
[*]GregV frames that fit in normal medium frames with good bee space
a. How many should fit lengthwise?
.......
c. Should I not add a pollen frame?
d. Does open brood help to keep bees from leaving, and should I add it?
SC,
My current mini-frames are not made to fit any other frame.
Where do you see my specs to fit other frames?
I never claimed such spec.
Nor this was my goal.
One of my goals is to take advantage of the common existing objects around me and use them as beekeeping equipment and tools.
So my mini-frames are made up to facilitate this approach and to fit inside Styrofoam coolers of suitable sizes with absolute minimal modifications.

In general, I already described what I have done - I follow the KISS principle as much as I can (as the life as already over-complicated, beyond the bees).

Take an existing container with a lid; plug the frames in (may contain some honey/pollen - optional); put in some artificial feed; put in a QC or a Q; dump in just enough young bees; close; done.
Sit back and wait for the queen to properly hatch, mate and develop.
All of this should take place during the most favorable time in season for breeding - naturally.

So I am not going to give some definitive answers as far as pollen/brood/frames to fit other frames.
Obviously - these are ALL good ideas you are listing; go ahead and do them if you want and can.
And yet NONE of these are required.

I just wing it with the resources that I have, using the time that I have, and don't get hung up on non-critical details.
You are free to experiment as you see fit.
 

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Discussion Starter #805
Finally finished the first experimental 300x300 CVH (Compact Vertical Hive) set and moved bees from a trap into it.
I will probably discuss more details in the "Warre" sub-forum when get to it.

6 boxes + 2 bottoms + 2 tops - should be the basic, minimal starter set.
More boxes are to be built, but not right now.
Assembled.
20200919_132435.jpg
Disassembled.
20200919_131139.jpg
Standard prototype frame as compared to Lang medium frame.
20200919_132611.jpg
Takes variety of 300mm (12.5") wide frames.
20200919_132911.jpg
Bees got new home
20200919_165505.jpg
 

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Finally finished the first experimental 300x300 CVH (Compact Vertical Hive) set and moved bees from a trap into it.
Glad to read you got this one off the ground, GregV.

I'll look forward to your observations on the pros/cons of this set-up versus the other hive set-ups you are running.

I assume you're having to think hard about Winter preps by now?

Best of success to you in closing out the season.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #809 (Edited)
Interesting. Looks a bit tippy being so tall and narrow.
I was unsure about this for a while, but what the heck.
I added a corner-peg, interlocking design to it; build them with 2x wood thick walls; feels plenty sturdy and solid.
The boxes a bit heavy (by design), but it helps with the stability.
The lids are heavy and the bottoms are heavy too (relatively, of course); this is all made from 2x wood (or double 1x wood).
These all help with the stable structure.
But since the standard frame is to be small, working by the 8-frame box should be manageable.

People have been running hundreds of these for years and years by now.
Most everyone who went for it and switched to the CVs - never looked back.
And here we are still afraid of something.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDeej-1B4zs
 

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Discussion Starter #810 (Edited)
Glad to read you got this one off the ground, GregV.

I'll look forward to your observations on the pros/cons of this set-up versus the other hive set-ups you are running.

I assume you're having to think hard about Winter preps by now?

Best of success to you in closing out the season.

Russ
Hey Russ,
This season is ALL about feeding.
2/3 of my units must be fed (thanks to mid-summer dry spell, mostly).
1/3 is set on their own, but no harvest (unless get the dead outs, of course).

I got 15 units at the moment but this is not the final #.
Am fully prepared to combine as needed, just waiting out longer.
Probably in October it will be more clear how to proceed.
I have not done any mite counts either (except one unit) - have not gotten much time.
But actually, I only care to count in the units to be combined, if gets to it.
This weekend finally made a round to distribute syrup or feed honey - first time in two weeks.
Bearly had daylight to check on all units.
It is harvest time - lots of apple!
 

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Discussion Starter #811 (Edited)
I really like the corner joints and interlocking pegs. They look fast to make and strong. Since the pegs face down, its easier to put a box on the ground when inspecting. I wish all my hives were Michael Palmer style nucs (with a shared bottom box) and those joints.
SC,
I always wanted to try the interlocking design.
This idea really came to the original designer from the military transport crates - this is how they done (except looking up).
But then other bright people decided to switch the pegs DOWN (great idea!).
So this is what I am experimenting with.
Took some peg shaving to get it all working right.
Also the boxes must be made with good precision to fit.
But once the process is going and some jigs are made, based on the experience - should be an automatic thing.

One thing about this design - it also provides a very ergonomic grip to the boxes.
 

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I think they look pretty darned good. Sturdy anyway, and can see some advantages. Interested to hear your thoughts a year from now, after some practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #813
Will report on this and that soon.
Tomorrow and Wednesday are last warm days.
Then just cold autumn days.

Meanwhile, here is result of treating the hive with simple dried horseradish root (via a smoker).
Jump to 0:45 and see for yourself - look at the paper; then watch for that paper being lifted and look under it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqKUhSEm5mQ

Here is a PDF that also indicates the horseradish is not a simple placebo (translate if care to read):
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BYhbGNrzpw4GJvSVf5JPlD68P13R9jj0/view

I am intrigued as some of my units are virtually dead anyway (per my mite estimates).
Might as well experiment on the bees that are still alive.
Hehe.
 

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Meanwhile, here is result of treating the hive with simple dried horseradish root (via a smoker).
Jump to 0:45 and see for yourself - look at the paper; then watch for that paper being lifted and look under it.
So I watched the video and attempted to Google Translate the publication. I got the sense that the smoke of the horseradish root (among others including wormwood an eucalyptus) offer an acaricide effect- but I couldn't figure what the paper is for? I assume what we are largely seeing under the paper are dead varroa mites?
 

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Discussion Starter #815 (Edited)
So I watched the video and attempted to Google Translate the publication. I got the sense that the smoke of the horseradish root (among others including wormwood an eucalyptus) offer an acaricide effect- but I couldn't figure what the paper is for? I assume what we are largely seeing under the paper are dead varroa mites?
Paper was there to simply estimate the mite fall (it was a piece of greased paper).
The guy says here forgot the paper in the hive for some weeks.
When later he found the paper he decided to film what he found (the piles of the dead mites that, apparently, tried to hide under the paper and died under it).

The PDF referenced compares wormwood, eucalyptus and horseradish affects.
Horseradish is found to have significantly stronger effect than the other too.

Here is his method of "treating" - dry horseradish root and chili powder - added directly into the smoker.
This is all he has done for 5 years (as commented in September, 2018).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGvky4jZ8iU
 

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Discussion Starter #816 (Edited)
15 units so far (result of 11 captured swarms and one purchased queen).
Of course, this is a subject to change downwards (question is - how much downwards).

Scattered across 7 yards.

Starting this season, I decided to do sugar roll mite counts so to roughly know my status, what to expect over the winter, and have some idea of the mortality causes.
Also, I want to avoid combining a very high mite count to a low mite count - that would be a disservice.

Someone was trying to convince me to be doing alcohol washes - I am not convinced the precision is justified for my needs (while killing valuable young bees and potentially some queens too).

What do I achieve by the alcohol wash precision exactly?
I don't see benefits of alcohol wash just for the needs of backyards decision making.
For my needs, a rough eye ball estimates done in September/October tell me all I need to know.

And now the 1/2 cup sugar roll mite counts (somewhat inflated as the 1/2 cups were well hipped the way I did it - but it is better than under-reported).

Yard #1 (backyard):
#1 - 73 mites (24-25%) - (early May swarm escaped from some Warre hive - no treatments in 2019; administered broodless fly back early July) - likely dead-out, there was no capped brood during the count and so ~100% mites were phoretic thus elevating the #
#2 - 16 (5-6%) - (F1 daughter of the purchased "hygienic" queen) - potential survivor; this was a queenless split from #1 above; used for queen rearing for some weeks
#3 - 13 (4-5%) - (F1 daughter of the purchased "hygienic" queen) - potential survivor; this was a very tiny May swarm of Italian bees re-queened in July

Yard #2 (0.5 miles away from the backyard):
#4 - 37 mites (12-13%) - (random June swarm; administered brood-less shook swarm in July) - likely dead-out;
#5 - 9 mites (~3%) - (purchased "hygienic" queen; the brood pattern is just mediocre and the colony is just average size at best) - potential survivor (better be after paying money!!!)
#6 - 13 mites (4-5%) - (F1 daughter of the purchased "hygienic" queen) - potential survivor;

Yard #3 (5 miles South-West from the backyard):
#7 - 13 (4-5%) - (F1 daughter from #1 above) - potential survivor; they get to enjoy the spunky new CVH too.
#8 - 51 (~17%) - (outcome of some random June swarm mess - re-swarmed - re-queened/superseded N-times - current new virgin and handful of remaining bees) - likely dead-out

Yard #4 (10 miles South from the backyard):
#9 - 17 (5-6%) - (random mid-July swarm) - potential survivor;

Yard #5 (5 miles South-East from the backyard):
#10 - 67 (22-23%) - (random June swarm - one of those "eat-and-grow" bees that store no honey) - likely dead-out;
#11 - 15 (~5%) - (F1 daughter of a random June swarm which I found to be desirable) - potential survivor;
#12 - not counted - (random June swarm - mother of #11 - some Russian-like traits) - due to propolis I could not move the frames easily and left it uncounted - unknown status

Yard #6 (15 miles South-East from the backyard):
#13 - 26 (8-9%) - (self-re-queened random July swarm) - probably dead-out;

Yard #7 (10 miles South from the backyard):
#14 - not counted - (random June swarm) - unknown status
#15 - not counted - (random July swarm - left to winter as-is in the log trap) - unknown status
 

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Discussion Starter #817
Since some of my units are already "walking dead", I want to experiment on them.
This season it will be dry horseradish root using the regular smoker.

Smoked the #1 last night - closed all entrances but one - pumped it until I heard the bees roaring.
Unfortunately, I was not able to put greased paper under them to capture any fall out - did not work out and the bees got agitated.
Bees are flying normally this morning.
Should repeat in a week.
Then need to re-count, ideally.

Probably smoke a couple more units, time permitting.
 

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Discussion Starter #818
..........
#1 - 73 mites (24-25%) - (early May swarm escaped from some Warre hive - no treatments in 2019; administered broodless fly back early July) - likely dead-out, there was no capped brood during the count and so ~100% mites were phoretic thus elevating the #
........
#4 - 37 mites (12-13%) - (random June swarm; administered brood-less shook swarm in July) - likely dead-out;
......
These two units I subjected to July brood-less splits.
In short - the high mite #s show of no significant help from these mid-summer brood-less splits.

Though the queens were able to resume the egg laying immediately.
Maybe I should have been confining them for a week or so - using a cage release approach - to extend the break (for next time now).

Or maybe for highly susceptible bees nothing really matters.
They just need to be discontinued and done with.
 

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Great stuff
so 6 of each... caught swam line(s) vs purchased line

"Swarm" average mites per shake 45 (15%)
"Purchased" average mites per shake 13 ( 4.3%)
I think you got your moneys worth!!
If you had doubled down on the purchased you may have gotten even lower numbers as they are sitting next to high count hives and likely getting some drift (seeley and all)

This season it will be dry horseradish root using the regular smoker.
This has me a bit confused..... your putting isothiocyanate in to a hive to kill mites, I don't see a difference between that or any other naturally occurring organic compound.

These two units I subjected to July brood-less splits.
In short - the high mite #s show of no significant help from these mid-summer brood-less splits.
shook swarm or flyback? I have found fly back to be very effective at creating almost mite free starts

Someone was trying to convince me to be doing alcohol washes - I am not convinced the precision is justified for my needs (while killing valuable young bees and potentially some queens too).
for your use, ya probably not needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #820 (Edited)
I think you got your moneys worth!!
So far, so good.
It does not matter IF the purchased queen seems mediocre - generally speaking.
That maybe exactly because she is hygienic?
For sure, the counts are speaking for themselves.

I somewhat regret, I did not do the counts before to evaluate my bees - but hey, better late than never.
Live and learn.
Btw, one local TF beek is claiming he is having bees surviving with 6-10% mite.
OK, maybe. Be great if true.

The seller of the hygienic queen responded to my questions:
I have learned from my testing is that 10 mites per 300 bee sample (3.3%) or less in October is what has the best chance of survival. The key though is 10 or less, the lower the number the higher the chance of survival. It's not to say that a colony with a count of 11-15 mites per 300 bee sample couldn't survive, I have seen it happen but it has the odds against it (my best guess is a 20% chance of survival and that's being optimistic). Anything with a count of 16+ (5.3%+) is a goner according to my records.

This has me a bit confused..... your putting isothiocyanate in to a hive to kill mites,
As in - am I treating?
LOL.
OK, yes - as in "checking out anecdotal miticide evidence for edible plant root I grow in the back yard".
Especially, as I have have totally throw away bees, as the counts indicated (those rough counts are really a good practice) - might as well see what happens.

I already have the root and it dried perfectly in my solar wax-melter.
One issue - the horse radish smoke may be reminding the "weed" smoke - it maybe.
So the backyard smelled like it - the "weed".

This past spring it was kinda tough to plan ahead any work until I caught enough swarms.
At this same rate, I could as well keep the sub-standard material afloat just so I could plug into it better material - later.
And so some experimenting sounds like fun.

So unprincipled of me! :D
Well, I kinda liked selling few queens to cover the expenses.
But also, IF the horse radish stuff works as claimed, even mildly - heck, that is some $$$ in it (trivial cultivation, totally organic, food item, should be no residue from the smoke application, takes no specialty equipment - just the smoker!! .....blah, blah.... - you see the picture).
OK, I am being cynical.
You are going to rhetorically ask - what is wrong with OA?
Well, I just like the alternative life-style.
OK... stopping this line of thought for now.

shook swarm or flyback?
Both.
#1 - brood-less fly-back - very surprised at the horrible mite counts because only foragers returned to the lone queen running about on empty combs; in theory, this should have been a good mite-shedding measure - and yet.... terrible outcome (ESPECIALLY because this is the early May swarm that originated from that Warre hive with supposedly very hygienic bees - NOT)...

One significant (maybe!) difference is that I keep the bees from the Warre in my 20-frame long hive.
It is a totally different environment in many ways - long hive vs. tree hive.
Maybe the well-ventilated long hives are beneficial for the mites compared to the Warre.
That's one thought.

#4 - brood-less shook swarm - less surprised, because I shook away young bees along with the queen (granted the young bees are more infested).

And yes - after much thought, I concluded +/-10% (even +/-20%) in the test precision results is not significant to me.
With the TF bees claimed survivability all way up to 10% mites, I am not going to worry of that precision minutia - it is a big range already.
 
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