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Discussion Starter #841
No argument from me- my only point was that with a dedicated means to slide-in a tray (or an old cookie sheet), you could perform the evaluations even during inclement conditions. May not be too big of an issue for you, but I find it handy around here, especially during those cold, rainy days that seem to always land on the day that I need to be evaluating 48 hour drops.
Right.
As long as I keep the under-frame space clear proactively, I can do the same most any time and with minimal disturbance (with the long hives).

For the CVH hives, I want to make 1-2 bottoms equipped by/for the trays.
Something nice to have with those IF am to be consistent with the mite counting program.
 

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Right.
As long as I keep the under-frame space clear proactively, I can do the same most any time and with minimal disturbance (with the long hives).

For the CVH hives, I want to make 1-2 bottoms equipped by/for the trays.
Something nice to have with those IF am to be consistent with the mite counting program.
Makes sense to me... I imagine you will have a lot less trouble keeping the bottom space clear than I have had keeping the upper space free of comb!
 

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Discussion Starter #843 (Edited)
Status updates as of 11/09/2020 (copy/paste/modify from the above post #816 about the mite counts).
Pretty much ALL units are set with the winter stores (with or without help) - not a concern there.
All frames counts are in Ukrainian frame units (each deep Ukrainian frame is an equivalent of 2 Lang medium frames).

Yard #1 (backyard):
#1 - 73 mites (24-25%) - Weak unit on 4 frames. This unit is probably to fail as the attrition is already very high (as expected). I may just combine another mite dump into here - have another one with a young queen (#8) - nothing to loose, but a survival possibility until spring (and a potential resource IF get so lucky). This is my best honey producer though - we have decent 2021 honey crop. I also completely robbed them of every single frame - everything went into #2. At least something good from them - a bitter-sweet story.
#2 - 16 (5-6%) - (F1 queen from #5) Very weak unit on just 3 frames (still brooding and so I have some hope). There are signs of mite damaged brood - not great. This young queen was hatched and raised a bad unit (split from #1 above) and so I can see the mite struggles. Fingers crossed. Will combine with #3 IF MUST.
#3 - 13 (4-5%) - (F1 queen from #5) Weak unit on 4 frames. Also still brooding. Set on stores and all self-provisioned. No signs of mite damaged brood. This queen was hatched and raised by a strong Italian colony with unknown mite load. I will monitor and will combine with #2 IF I sense danger.Last year I went greedy and did not combine two weak units in the backyards - ended up loosing both.

Yard #2 (0.5 miles away from the backyard):
#4 - 37 mites (12-13%) - Terminated the queen and combined into #8 below.
#5 - 9 mites (~3%) - Average unit on 7 frames. Looks healthy and ready for winter. I had to feed this unit heavily - it was too weak through the summer to produce much on their own.
#6 - 13 mites (4-5%) - (F1 queen from #5) Strong unit on about 9-10 frames. Looks healthy and ready for winter. Self-provisioned too.

Yard #3 (5 miles South-West from the backyard):
#7 - 13 (4-5%) - (F1 queen from #1) - Strong unit on 8-9 frames. I like what I see so far. I also like how they set up in the CV hive. I fed this unit but it still feels a tad light on the stores, but with the fondant on the top added later (which I will do regardless) these should be set.

#8 - 51 (~17%) - I call this unit the failure of the season on all fronts - nothing but hassle with little to show for. Combined with #4 already and these are still only on 3 frames. May just dump them together with the #1 as an experiment to see if otherwise doomed units can still be saved via aggressive combinations for a spring expansion resource. One good thing about the late combines is that this is just another way to harvest more unused frames (honey and all).

Yard #4 (10 miles South from the backyard):
#9 - 17 (5-6%) - Strong unit on 8-9 frames. This is a heavily fed unit (not through their fault but rather mid-summer drought). Looks healthy and ready for winter.

Yard #5 (5 miles South-East from the backyard):
#10 - 67 (22-23%) - Average to strong unit as of. Regardless, I pretty much wrote this unit off in terms of both mites and worthless honey production. Had to feed them too. Will see how long they will last. Had I have handy OA solution, I'd probably use it on this unit trying to pull them through for the spring for the expansion projects. Oh well.
#11 - 15 (~5%) - (F1 from #12). Average unit on 6-7 frames. I fed these also. There are signs for mite damaged brood. Fingers crossed.
#12 - not counted - A strong unit on ~10 frames. Looks and feels ready just by brief external checks. Did not feel like breaking into this propolised-to-the-death hive. Will see in spring.

Yard #6 (15 miles South-East from the backyard):
#13 - 26 (8-9%) - Average unit on 6-7 frames. Still brooding significantly and very active. I had to feed these too and they feel set for the cold. Whatever happens is just fine.

Yard #7 (10 miles South from the backyard):
#14 - not counted - Strong Italian unit on ~10 frames. Self-provisioned. Whatever happens is fine.
#15 - not counted - Average unit on 5-6 frames. This late July swarm will be wintering directly in the trap hive on 5-6 deep Lang frames (turned at 90 degrees to make it a narrow and deep nest). I fed them as they were bone dry in the late summer (due to local drought). I actually like what I see. Fingers crossed.

So among other things, this winter I will have two units in narrow and tall configuration (#7 and #15) so to get the personal feel of the wintering in such setups. There are many good testimonials, but I want to see for myself before committing too much. This setup is supposed to be very energy efficient and favorable to winter weak to average colonies - which would be great for me.
 

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GregV:

Good update- looks like you took fullest advantage of the resources available to you to make increase.

Based on what you know now, are there any colonies that you have your eye on that you would consider breeding material for next year?
 

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Discussion Starter #845 (Edited)
Based on what you know now, are there any colonies that you have your eye on that you would consider breeding material for next year?
#2, #3, #5, #6 - the line from the purchased queen (#5).
#7 - a possibility to at least keep the line going; unsure why the mite count is low (it should be high IF the heredity is any indication)
#9 - same as #7
#11, #12 - this line (mother #12 and daughter) from the onset behaved in such a way that I want to keep them going longer

Any of these queens are on my radar IF they still stand in spring.
The rest will be used for expandable parts (while I doubt they even make it but who knows).
 

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Thanks for the reply, GregV. Looks like you have some promising material to work with and I imagine you will have some options to consider come Spring.

Best of luck on your overwintering efforts.
 

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Discussion Starter #847 (Edited)
Thanksgiving check.

Yard #1 (backyard):
#1 - 73 mites (24-25%) - Dead. Empty hive full of honey.
#2 - 16 (5-6%) - (F1 queen from #5) - Was essentially dead with only a handful of bees remaining. Did not find a queen either (I missed the queens before though). Some abandoned and frozen brood. Terminated - combined into #3. The long hive of #2 is full of honey which I will harvest - the good part.
#3 - 13 (4-5%) - (F1 queen from #5) - Very weak on only 2-3 frames. Added the remnants of #2 using paper and finally insulated well. Whichever queens persists is OK with me (IF any at all). NOT optimistic. Might even plug in a heater, because I can, just an attempt to save a queen into spring.

For unclear reasons, the low mite counts for #2 and #3 in September did not translate into the good wintering results.

Yard #2 (0.5 miles away from the backyard):
#4 - 37 mites (12-13%) - Dead (see prev update).
#5 - 9 mites (~3%) - Weak to average on 3-4 frames. Appears healthy. Fingers crossed as this queen cost me money and hopefully was worth it.
#6 - 13 mites (4-5%) - (F1 queen from #5) - Average on 4-5 frames. Too many attrition losses due to bad hive config - must fix the config ASAP - the bees wander around the half-empty hive during the warm-ups and then freeze unable to return to the cluster (beekeeper fault!!!).

Yard #3 (5 miles South-West from the backyard):
#7 - 13 (4-5%) - (F1 queen from #1) - Average to strong on 6-7 frames. Appears healthy. I like what I see so far (both the bees and the CV hive).
#8 - 51 (~17%) - Dead. Amounted to waste of time/effort with nothing to show for it.

Yard #4 (10 miles South from the backyard):
#9 - 17 (5-6%) - Strong unit on 6-7 frames. Appears healthy. A pleasant surprise so far.

Yard #5 (5 miles South-East from the backyard):
#10 - 67 (22-23%) - Still alive, weak to average on 3-4 frames, and look to be distressed. Surprised they ARE still alive. IF these hold up into December, I consider combining the unit into #11 (#10 queen is to be terminated if I can find her).
#11 - 15 (~5%) - (F1 from #12) - Weak to average on 3-4 frames. I had higher hopes but don't see much promise. Considering a combine with #10 within weeks to just improve the chances.
#12 - not counted - Average to strong unit on 6-7 frames. Fingers crossed for this unit. I still want this line to succeed; it feels as if a promising queen to continue from.

Yard #6 (15 miles South-East from the backyard):
#13 - 26 (8-9%) - Average to strong unit on 6-7 frames. Look healthy. A dark horse.

Yard #7 (10 miles South from the backyard):
#14 - not counted - Average to strong unit on 6-7 frames. Look healthy.
#15 - not counted - Average 4-5 frames. Look healthy. The bees seem to feel very comfortable in this thick walled, vertical hive. It is a shame I did not take pictures when I last pulled the frames out.


Overall, I am displeased with the yard #1.
Just like in recent politics, the polls did not produce an accurate picture of the reality it seems. The good news is - yard #1 has now two long hives full of honey frames for me to go and harvest at my pleasure over the winter months - very convenient. Will be doing my usual thing - pulling 1-2 frames and doing the small batch C&S, the best honey one can not buy.

Also, until now I still have not added any insulation by design, even though we had nights as cold as 20-25F.
Just 1-2 layers of burlap/cotton on the frames.
This is in hopes of forcing the bees into more favorable winter setups (the bees below the honey).
But also weeding out the waste as quickly as possible - I don't want to keep the weaklings on life support for few extra weeks/months and waste the carbs.

But now the December is approaching and the weather will get serious.
Pretty soon I will go around, add emergency fondant on the frame tops, toss some blankets over and install wind protection where needed. Might do more combines on the spot as well.
 

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Just like in recent politics, the polls did not produce an accurate picture of the reality it seems.
My gut is #1mite bombed the home yard, but without taking counts one can't be sure..
I am a little bummed the new forum rounds post dates.. as they can be important...
any way it says you took your washes "Two months ago"
We see in Seeley 2019 Mite bombs or robber lures? The roles of drifting and robbing in Varroa destructor transmission from collapsing honey bee colonies to their neighbors how massive the infulx of mites can be in the time period after a roll or even treatment

Ie 300E rolled 2 mites per 300 on AUG 30th and an impressive 42/300 on Sept 29th..
that of course was the highest one, and on average the hives gained 14.5 mites per 300.. but even on the average thats enuff to push a hive over the limit if it is already starting with any sort of mite load.
 

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Discussion Starter #849 (Edited)
My gut is #1mite bombed the home yard, but without taking counts one can't be sure..
A possibility.
To be sure the dead unit #1 was not an "abscond".
They just dwindled down and dropped off over the several freezing nights.
There was no robbing either - I did a good job to prevent any robbing whatsoever.
Though the bees from #1 could be escaping into more healthy #2 and #3.

Seeley's theory is based on the robbing transmission - not the case with me.
Not it.

Somehow the yard #2 is looking OK after sitting next to the mite bomb unit #4 through the season.
It maybe (partially) due to mite-infested unit #4 being taken away in late October (combined into #8 on a different yard). Though it was so late in season - I doubt it made much different (bees did not fly much).

Of course, with open mating of the queens, nothing is exact science either.
 

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There was no robbing either - I did a good job to prevent any robbing whatsoever.
screens?
passive robbing is a real thing, as is uncontested robing as things get more terminal.. it very often fools people
when you look at seeley 2019 there was zero hive entrance aggression seen till 9/21 and at that point a lot of mites had already been transferred, form 8/20 on 32+% of the bees seen at the entrance of the mite bomb hives were from the other hives (light vs dark bees) but no entrance aggression was seen at the time
and obvious robbing was not observed till 9/26
 

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Discussion Starter #851 (Edited)
screens?
passive robbing is a real thing,
My entrances are minimal at all times anyway.
And as soon as I sense/know a danger, I tape them in regardless and pretty brutally.
Weak units/mite bombs get taped in by default and re-taped over and over.
I stopped using the screens since a couple of seasons ago - after I learned to tape or paper-plug my hives (and have been ranting about it too). Below is a pic of #1 unit - paper taped (from last season, but shows well my ways).

The screens are a short-term gimmick.
Everyone (robbers included) learn how to work them; all the while the real entrances are NOT reduced by default (because the entrance is behind the screen is deemed as safe - LOL). Properly both screen entrance and the entrance behind the screen must the reduced to a squeeze to be effective (but then it is a bit of a maintenance hassle).

The real deal is still to reduce the entrance to less than a bee (that right - less than a bee); even behind a screen, if use the screens.
  • in short term the plug/tape creates a congestion and agitates the bees - a good thing (an immediate fix)
  • in longer term, this is letting the bees to unplug themselves only to the size they have the ability to do.
Strong hives will unplug themselves big enough; weak hives will only unplug themselves just a little.

With the congestion, foreign bees have less of a chance to squeeze by.
With a wide open entrance behind a screen - not a problem to walk right in.

This being said - of course, I did not do any significant measurements - so I will not publish a paper on my hacks. LOL!
On the other hand, Seeley could be a bit more inventive and use few simple life hacks here and there (and measure IF they are actually working or not, being a scientist). :)
 

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Discussion Starter #852 (Edited)
The real deal, MSL, I suspect - the mite count #s in a hive AFTER a significant brood break will be like a half-sine graph.
Picture the half-sine graph.
The period of the graph frequency will correlate to the mite repro cycle.
See what I mean?

Google - "half sine graph" to visualize what I mean.

In other words, after a significant brood break, the mite counts will have the highs and the lows - these will occur periodically.

Reason:
  • for a long enough period nearly ALL the mites in the colony will be phoretic (high count)
  • when finally the brood becomes available (first generation after the new queen intro) - nearly ALL mites will be in the brood (low count)
  • as the first generation of the bees come out in 3 weeks - a new generation of the phoretic mites will flood the hive (high count again);
  • these modulations will occurs for a certain period but over time will spread/smooth out
Over time, the highs and the lows will gradually smooth out; the modulation will be less and less obvious.

But the first 1-2 month after the brood break, the half-sine model should work I think.
One very well can hit a mite low and wrongly conclude to have a low mite count due to this modulation.

The actual dynamics of the process over time I don't know - someone like Seeley should study and write a paper (IF not already). :)

This is my theory about the real issue (totally speculative and no factual support).
Now, this scenario could very well be my case.
 

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Discussion Starter #853
I still did not harvest much of any 2020 crop. That will be a winter project.
But here is sample of the 2019 crop as of this writing - a beauty.
This demo shows very well how different small batch honeys are - including a sample that stays 100% liquid into the second year now.
This is like box of chocolates as you never know what you gonna get.

My favorites are natural creamed honeys though - some of those smaller and darker jars are like that - perfect creamed honey with unique flavors. Never understood people running about with "how to" make creamed honey. I simply press it and let it rest some months - here is your creamed honey.
 

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GregV:

Finally got a chance to catch-up on your updates. I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving.

Maybe I am missing something, but am I correct in assuming that you only took mite counts on October 13th?

Thus, when evaluating the stock over Thanksgiving are you assuming mite incursions based on variable(s) other than a contemporary mite wash/drop (i.e. cluster size, perforated cappings, frass or some other factors)?

You may have already covered this, but is your purchased breeder queen (#5) of bona fide Primorski stock? If so, is it possible that this may have something to do with the smaller clusters found in her daughter colonies (i.e. 2, 3 and 6)?
 

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Discussion Starter #855
GregV:

..am I correct in assuming that you only took mite counts on October 13th?

Thus, when evaluating the stock over Thanksgiving are you assuming mite incursions based on variable(s) other than a contemporary mite wash/drop (i.e. cluster size, perforated cappings, frass or some other factors)?

You may have already covered this, but is your purchased breeder queen (#5) of bona fide Primorski stock? If so, is it possible that this may have something to do with the smaller clusters found in her daughter colonies (i.e. 2, 3 and 6)?
Hey Russ,

I reported on October 13 but the actual counting activity took me about a week (not done all at once).
Pretty much weeks 1 and 2 of October when I counted.

I did some spot observations prior to the T-Giving day.
But on the T-Giving I did the comprehensive round about across all the yards I have (just a convenient timing).
I don't really follow any hard regiment.
Some hives (dead or mostly dead) I check more thoroughly to see what did them in - pretty much it is a classic mite story in late fall - presence of the mite-injured brood (never hatched) is a typical indicator.
Other hives I check very superficially - a cluster on 6-7 frames at this time is very a good sign as-is and does not need much more disturbing.

The #5 is of unclear origin.
I would not call it Primorski stock.
It originates from that breeder in the Olympic peninsula, WA who started from some forest feral stock (I have a link few pages back).

#2 and #3, I suspect, have had issues where these queens were plugged into colonies that had too much mite load.
#2 was beyond sustainable and is now terminated.
#3 is of critically small size and will require heating to survive (which I will do).
So I theorize above as how my low mite counts were misleading maybe.

#5 (mother) and #6 are of smallish size.
In general these are bees of Northern traits I can tell - conservative.

So - I see a real benefit in a one-time OA treatment of a colony that is to receive a promising queen.
For sure I had a chance to apply OA to #2 as there was a long brood-less window there.
Also there was an opportunity to apply OA in #6.

Going forward, I am thinking I should do the OA when presented a chance to do it - so to not be wasting promising queens over and over and over. The promising queens are not able to turn infested colonies around, I had this issue happening many times over. This season, the apparent low mite counts in #2 and #3 fooled me.

I am now trending to think that the phoretic mite count (if done consistently every X days - e.g. once per week) will show that there is some variable half-sine function is describing the phoretic population in many instances.

And thus - with a single counting event - you are prone to hit a high or the low or some slope (trending up or down) of the sinusoid function and totally mis-read the situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #856 (Edited)
Thinking - a low mite count needs a double/triple check to follow up and confirm.
We really want to hit the high and that will tell a better story.
High-high is bad and needs no confirmation.
Low-high is good ( but needs to be re-confirmed).
 

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am now trending to think that the phoretic mite count (if done consistently every X days - e.g. once per week) will show that there is some variable half-sine function is describing the phoretic population in many instances.
but we aren't seeing that happen in the studies that have done so IE mite drop Archives - Scientific Beekeeping


to your earlier point.. this isn't after a hard brood break, but suggests that instead of excessive post break montering (ie once a week) a pre break count (even a single one) would give you a reltalitvarly stable and meaningful number.
Going forward, I am thinking I should do the OA when presented a chance to do it - so to not be wasting promising queens over and over and over. The promising queens are not able to turn infested colonies around,
It sounds like a plan... my questions/thoughts as how it fits with in your scope and goals
#1 how do you manage OA "contamination" on a treated nuc, marked combs in the nuc that are never used for your consumption of "clean" hive products?
#2 If you don't hit every nuc with OA to get an even start, how can you tell a promising from non promising queen?
#3 beekeeping is seldom about being "presented a chance" to do something and more about creating it
 

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Discussion Starter #858
All good comments and questions.
In any case, I will make my mind in spring about how to proceed.
Some minimal testing is OK with me so to have some idea what I have on hand and what is worth saving.

On the other hand if the testing is way OFF target, such testing is meaningless - either get it right OR don't waste the time.

On the other hand yet, getting into an intensive program is getting way out of my original project - I need to review my strategic goals.

The same about the OA contamination issue.
I don't want to worry about and so far I have been honest with myself.
In the final end, for me this is still about food more than anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter #859 (Edited)
but we aren't seeing that happen in the studies that have done so IE mite drop Archives - Scientific Beekeeping
Regarding this, I don't see the history of the exact colonies being tested.
In fact, is it even specified?

Added:
Randy is in Cali and is ahead of WI by few months even by general calendar;
Even the general beekeeping cycle is not compatible.
Toss into it the specifics (e.g. exact timing of the counting after a hard break) - talking apples and oranges more than likely.

In my examples, the #2 was made queen right sometimes in August (after I ran them queen-less through the entire July).
#2 got the first brood going sometimes in mid-August or later - after about a month of brood-less - due to queen raising projects. This is one example of where I could see bouncing mite counts (in retrospect).
 

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Discussion Starter #860 (Edited)
So - I see a real benefit in a one-time OA treatment of a colony that is to receive a promising queen.
For sure I had a chance to apply OA to #2 as there was a long brood-less window there.
Also there was an opportunity to apply OA in #6.
Thought about this for a while...

Actually, just as well test the brood for mites AND destroy the first round of capped brood after the brood break IF high infestation of brood is found (or even regardless of the brood infestation).
IF the infestation visibly is high, this brood is mostly compromised anyway - not much lost with just destroying it (press it for food supplement - a double-whammy).

The potential OA contamination issue solved.

PS: this kinda brings a question - what is a proper method of mite testing and counting in the brood?
 
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