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GregV's Alternative way to keep (have?) bees.

154244 Views 2166 Replies 61 Participants Last post by  GregB
Not to pollute the "cost of treatment" topic anymore, putting it here.....

Granted, large-scale commercial way is different from a small-scale hobby way and has different priorities and methods used accordingly - most of us get it and so just get this out of the way.
There are also intermediate cases and we also get it and let us just skip this diversion.

Did it occur to anyone that there is more than one way get your own bee products (better be "clean" if do make them for yourself), still have the producing bees annually, and yet not be following the commercial ways of doing so (which depend on recurring medication)?

So, the bee-die off is a part of my picture - I expect few colonies to die and I will appropriate their resources as I see fit.
The survivors will continue to be part of my hobby bee-selection process going forward.
The dead will have contributed to the human and bee nutrition programs.
Everything has purpose.

In the old time, people would have to kill few hives to get their honey.
Here and now, the current environment does the same easily.
In fact, I want few of my hives to die so I am not the one choosing who to rob and who to spare.

So, in fact, I would rather have 5-6 of my current 14 colonies die (preferably the largest colonies and preferably as quickly as possible so to leave behind most of the resources).
I would also prefer most of my small/medium colonies to survive and serve as the 2019 season start ups (cheaper to winter; likely healthier being late nucs; the spring development does not much matter of the fall colony size anyway).

As of the moment, I hardly harvested any honey (only few pounds for the kids).
The year has been bad.
However, just a couple of strong dead-outs (sounds weird, ah?) should easily provide more than enough honey and uncontaminated perga for our annual consumption and give-away in lieu of rent payments.

So here you have it, a "politically-incorrect", inconvenient, agitating statement - I want some of my bees die.

To be sure, I don't want ALL of my bees die, 50% survival would be fine with me and a good place to restart the next season.
Just letting the nature (including the mites) do the culling for me.
Hopefully, by Thanksgiving I get a few drop-offs - good riddance and some holiday crop for us.
:)
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Discussion Starter · #921 · (Edited)
I actually have so much honey and bee bread now (after the three dead-outs - the back yard) - this will keep me busy for the rest of the winter just harvesting it all.

There is also plenty of resources scattered across the remaining yards - plenty for the next year projects.
So this model does work for me just fine - regardless of how many units still die or make it.
The expense this year was zero - bought a queen/sold two queens.
Bought some duct tape and staples, I guess.

This is a great model as is - on the bee product side.
There is nothing to change really.
Costs nothing anymore.
ROI balance sheet is looking better and better every year now - the tools have been bought and the hives built.
I need not much else at this point.

This is sustainable too - thanks to the "non-regulated bee importation" into my vicinity, for as along as it continues, there will always be free bees to pickup and exploit (some years more, some years less). The more they dump the bees in the area - the better.
Any bees, whatever bees - does not matter.

Everything I listed is really that simple - catch swarms and exploit them and don't think too deep into it.

Now, the local, resistant bees - entirely different ball game.
 

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Discussion Starter · #922 · (Edited)
Wanted to do this long since the last winter.
Well, a year has gone by.
Tonight I felt like doing it.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zootechnical method of varroosis control (translated by Greg V.)

(Petrov 1983, Pages 178 – 186, with omissions, comments, stylistic edits and few errors as I did not spend much time reviewing this - good enough!!!)​

<GV: Omitted history of introduction of Varroa to Bashkortostan and the initial attempts to control with acaricides and high temperature treatments>

… We set the goal of finding a method of controlling varroa so to free the bees of the mites and still preserve the brood for building the workforce for the main flow.

We developed a zootechnical method meeting the goal’s requirements. The basis of the method involves creation of brood-less colonies and usage of “trap-frames” with the brood for attracting female mites parasitizing the worker bees. These frames are then destroyed.

Preparation for the procedure we start in early spring, at once after setting the bees out of the wintering sheds. During the first spring check we evaluate the colonies an classify them into three groups according to their strength: Group I – strong, Group II – average, Group III – weak. <….>

By the start of the procedure we target to have 8-10 seams of bees (GV: presumably in the Group I). <….>

Before the start of the procedure we prepare remote yards at least 5 kilometers (GV: ~3 miles) away so that the bees will not return to the main base when moved (GV: main base = winter base). <….>

Work with the Group I begins in 15-20 days after the bees have been set out from the sheds and when the shade temperatures are not below 15C (we set out our bees from the sheds about 5-12th of April with the grounds still covered in snow).

We start with taking ALL brood frames (but one) from Group I and moving them to Groups II and III. The oldest capped brood (where the bees are already hatching) we move to Group III. Younger brood we move to Group II. Such moves allow to preserve the young brood from potential chilling in weak colonies. The only brood frame left in Colony I is one with 2-3 day old larvae, in the middle of the nest. This will be the “trap-frame” to attract the female mites.

To replace the remove frame, we insert frames with honey, bee bread, foundation according to the colony strength and needs. This is now a brood-less colony in the status of artificial swarm (similar to a fly-back split) with bees off various ages and they own original queen. Such colonies did not swarm per our experience (GV: during the given season).

All Group I colonies after the procedure we immediately move the remove yards (previously prepared).

After 6-8 days after the move we inspect the “trap-frames” in the Group I to evaluate the mite infestation. Highly infested frames we remove and destroy my melting them. The frames without high infestation we also remove and return to the main base; there we distribute them among Groups II and III accordingly.

With this, the mite control on the Group I is finished. These colonies are almost entirely free of the mites and need no further treatments until next season. Group I is able to build up for the main flow and will not swarm and only work left is to prepare this colonies for the main flow.

Work with the Group II starts in 10-12 days after the procedure with the Group I started. By now the group Group II colonies should be stronger due to their own brood production and also the brood donated by the Group I colonies.

The procedure done to the Group I is repeated with the Group II <….>

In 7-8 days after the process with Group II started, we are starting the process with Group III. The exact same process is repeated with one important difference that no more colonies left to where the brood can be transferred. In order to beneficially use this batch of the brood, we create from this brood (with the young bees!) queen-less colonies – “incubators”. For this we employ the fly-back splitting with the included “trap-frame”.

Thus the Group III colonies double in numbers as each colony produced:

a)brood-less colony with a queen and

b)queen-less colony with a variety of brood and young bees.

The queen-right colonies of Group III we move to the same yard where the Colony I is already located (GV: but NOT immediately, but only after 5-6 days – see below).

Joining Group I and Group III on the same out-yard is done because the Group III has no time to build-up for the main flow and so we boost them with capped and hatching brood frames taken from the Group I. <….>

The Group III queen-right colonies are NOT immediately moved to out-yards so to allow the mites to concentrate on the “trap-frames”.

(GV: this is unlike the Groups I and II. The implication is that the “trap-frames” are revised and handled BEFORE the Group III colonies are moved to the out-yards. This is done to minimize bringing the mites to the out-yards).

The queen-less colonies are staying on the main base, raise brood and new queens (from emergency cells) and used for the business expansion/replacements.

Treatment of the queen-less “incubator” colonies is done as follows. While the bees are making new queens, the queens mate and start laying again, the “incubators” become brood-less. When brood becomes available again in 2-3 weeks, the mites will concentrate on the very first frames to be capped. We inspect 1-2 such frames and destroy them where appropriate. After this the “incubator” colonies are nominally healthy.

The diagram represents the works done (to be added).

In the season 1979 we improved the method by adding next to the “trap-frame” additional foundation-less frame to allow the bees building drone comb in it. It becomes the secondary “trap-frame”. Mites are attracted to the drone brood more than to the worker brood. “Trap-frames” with drone brood with high infestation we destroy also.

It should be noted that these zootechnical procedures should be done before the swarming period in your area. If administered too late, the procedures will not prevent swarming – the additional benefit of the process.

Benefits of the particular procedure described above is it coincides with regular anti-swarming bee yard works done routinely anyway. Migrating colonies to the out-yards is done for increasing honey harvest as a routine. Splitting and raising new queens – these are all routine bee yard works. The only additional work is monitoring and possible destruction of the “trap-frames”.

The table 26 (below) contains four years of data for the said method used in production and demonstrating the results. Before the treatment, amount of mites per 100 cells of brood varied over the years from 5 to 13.6; after the treatment – from 0 to 0.4. <….>

All treated colonies, while having some levels of infestation, did not show signs of disease. Wintering went normally. Winter/spring colony weakening was compatible to other healthy bee yards.

In other cases before treatment, average mite population in 100 cells of brood was 7 mites and after treatment – 1-2 mites. When the “trap-frames” were destroyed, they on average contained 38 mites per 100 cells of brood.

Table 26. Monitoring of the effectiveness of the zootechnical method of varroa control (<….> bee yard)

YearsNumber of coloniesNumber of mites per 100 cells. (Number of cells per 100 bees). BEFORE treatment.Number of mites per 100 cells. (Number of cells per 100 bees). AFTER treatment.Avg honey harvested per colony, kg.Colony strength in fall, after treatment (seams of bees)Colony strength in spring, after treatment (seams of bees)Comments
1976​
7​
9.4 +/-1.2 (--)0 (--)
62.5​
7.9​
7.1​
First 3 years mites on bees were not measured.
1977​
70​
6.35 +/-0.9 (--)0.4 (--)
47​
7.6​
6.5​
1978​
27​
5.0+/-0.3 (--)0.2 (--)
46.1​
8.4​
7.8​
Control (GV: 1978?)
8​
5.0+/-0.3 (--)14.4 (--)
22​
6​
(--)4 control colonies died over the winter.
4 remaining control colonies destroyed in spring.
1979​
30​
13.6 (8.2)0 (0)
57.1​
8.3​
(--)In 1979 mites in the "trap-frames" were counted. Found 43 mites per 100 cells of brood on average.
Control (GV: 1979?)
30​
13.6 (8.2)23.4 (19.6)
52.8​
7.6​
(--)On 9/12/1979 mites on bees were counted. On treated group there were 2.8 mites per 100 bees (GV: assume average?), on control group there were 38.3 mites. Another count during the last flight day (10/17/1979) - accordingly 1.9% and 17.5%.
 

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So indeed the year 1964 was when administration officially proclaimed the mite presense in the Primorsky region.
Notice that this reporting always concerned only the state-operated beekeeping - subject to regulation, monitoring AND to local and regional political pressures.
Private beekeeping was always under the radar (still is) - importantly!
Anyways, the below does not disagree that the mites have been in the region since at least 1950s.

From the issue 9, 1971.
My brief and free hand extracts:
  • in 1964 a massive mite infection was registered in one of the region state yards
  • during 1966-1970 investigations it was determined that the mite is widely distributed in the region (and the distribution continues growing)
  • according to well regarded scientists of the time (professor Poltev) there were no observation of the mites in the area and the ideas of the mite being present in the area before are not founded (which I will call bull****)
--- the region is as large as 2-3 states of WI with heavily forested and mountainous landscape, and the unregulated beekeeping is all over the place (and this is not even considering China just across the very long border - bees don't know of the borders, obviously)
  • still, the article states (this is 1971) that the mite must have been around for at least 10-15 years
  • currently (i. e. 1971) the hobbyist bee yards are the main sources of mite; the small scale beekeeping is very popular, unregulated and not monitored;
  • the small scale beekeepers regularly migrate their bees between different pastures to maximize the production
IMO it is important to note, that the state owned and the private owned Apiaries were likely done different, as to management.
state owned followed well established rules. the private, would be more "Greg Like" :) no pun intended.
I heard the state owned,, imported a lot of bees to replace the lost ones, thinking it was a bad local gene issue and likely exacerbated the issue. Like here many of the commercials treat, many of the private backyard do not. So be curious to see either hive count wise or site wise how many were "private" and how many state owned. Obviously many of the private were in the bush somewhere not know to many. Like was there > 50% private or Vise Versa

GG
 

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Good job, Russ, doing some direct investigation!

Your findings just confirm what we discussed above - outside of very strict controlled environment we can not expect reliable replication of the same trait in long term.
I am not going to re-quote the supporting evidence - it is all there in your post.
One can stop right here:
"..........17 lines represented today. They have the most diverse genetics currently tracked in U.S. breeding stock........."

Basically, on the ground we are commonly dealing with uncontrolled sales and re-sales of some undocumented "Russian hybrids" from undocumented sources and have a mess of variability they produce. That alone produces unpredictable results.

Multiply that by the variability dumped on me by the legions of the "bee savers" who live in my suburban vicinity and keep buying the imported stocks annually (so they can "help saving the bees" or just having fun without any high claims).

It is really ugly - the biggest evil are those short-term "bee savers" that keep polluting the area and will dilute very quickly the best possible stock I may try to import. This is exactly the situation I have on my hands. My back porch being the most successful swarm trapping location in 2020 season - that tells you something. :)

2 of 3 F1 daughters of my "breeder queen" died BEFORE any dark horse queens I got just by random swarm trapping.
Now that is ironic - not much of the predictability to speak of.
LOL

So that begs a question - is it worth buying and importing select stock into my particular area?
I think not - in my particular area it is not really worth trying to be selecting for any particular traits (e.g. resistance) - an impossible fit given the uncontrolled and massive importations.

It is either I need to start treating (hopefully following the intelligent IPM methods).

OR - just continue being a cynic bee swarm hunter and taking advantage of the free bees available annually for easy taking (and exploit that for the bee product production).
Heck, may even take on some bee/queen selling - as if selling "untreated, locally-mated bees" - LOL.
That would be bull***, but some locals do just that.

For sure, uncontrolled bee importation has one positive attribute - reliable availability of escaped swarms for easy taking.
So that is a silver lining as for me. Haha!

I guess we just keep toying around with the "citizen science" types of projects.
At least that is a cheap way to have fun and might actually produce something useful.
I can comment on the Russians As I have had several batches of them.
Overall I have purchased maybe 20 queens 6 or so at a clip.
First year they are great, calm, good crop, resistant.
However when they replace the queen or swarm, they will obviously open mate.
Every yard where I have had these (5) they cross out differently. So it is a crap shoot to predict.
the second (F1) is mostly ok, by the 3rd (F2) generation they are at the die or get somewhat hot point.
I have a yard of F3s to replace this spring, almost to hot to have in a rural setting, homes on both sides.
If they survive which the hot ones seem to do well, I'll move the Queens to a production yard, and requeen the parent hives this spring.
I have way better survival with the Russians over the others I have tried.
I did try the Saz with a 6 of 6 die out first winter.
The Russians I generally have at least 50% left, cannot say the same for others I have tried.
I did get 3 swarms this year, any that survive, I will try to set up in a different yard. Still looking for that majic swarm that is resistant.
Way to many newbies, in this area buying bees every year as they never can get them over winter. So the drones are somewhat unpredictable and not local.
IF I had a place that did not have any bees it would likely work better but so far that place does not exist, that I have access to.
If I had the time IMO the thing to do is get several keepers to agree on a race and start expanding that area into a county or 2 producing everyone's queens in the center.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #927 · (Edited)
Would it not be a logistical nightmare? Labor cost at north american standards???
OK.
I considered these before spending the 2-3 hours of my own time doing the translation work.
I already understood the ideas for myself so why bother?
Well, I still wanted to share the material because it is a worthwhile approach IMO.

Here re-pasting:

Benefits of the particular procedure described above is it coincides with regular anti-swarming bee yard works done routinely anyway. Migrating colonies to the out-yards is done for increasing honey harvest as a routine. Splitting and raising new queens – these are all routine bee yard works. The only additional work is monitoring and possible destruction of the “trap-frames”.

This is the original premise of the method authors - IF you do similar routines already (migrating to follow the flows, use multiple locations, do anti-swarming splitting, do brood moves to even-out colonies), why not consider the mite management while doing it ?

They simply integrated the "trap-frame" into their existing management routines - which amounts to nominal additional overhead.

Now the North American context.
Again - why copy the process "as written"?
This is not the USA Constitution.
In fact, the US Supreme Court justices themselves can not agree how exactly to follow the Constitution - "as written" OR "per the probable intent".
LOL

Even if you don't practice the management of the authors (and for sure don't have similar local conditions), there are few key points worth considering for your own situation.

For example, instead of moving Group I to the summer flow out-yards, one can just as well move the Group III away to an alternate location after the brood moves (or as a part of the brood moves). The key point here is - physical separation of the mites from the bees (via the brood moves). Less important is what is moved where - as for me, moving the weak hives and the brood is much simpler and this is what I envision for my own use.
So the flexibility and creativity is left up to you.

And if your situation does not fit, then it does not fit - that simple.
 

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Sorry Greg; Was not meaning to belittle your efforts to translate and transcribe that management system. I dont doubt its efficacy but I see it as so organizationally intensive with time sensitive coordination of events etc., that it would not be simple to implement. Being treatment free is not the simple way by any means. Even when achieved, high mite resistance takes a lot of ongoing effort to maintain or it fades away. Isolation conditions are becoming more and more scarce.
 

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Discussion Starter · #929 ·
IMO it is important to note, that the state owned and the private owned Apiaries were likely done different, as to management.
Right.
As commented above along the same exact line.

The state-owned apiaries (while being monitored and "properly managed" - officially anyway) acted as infestation amplifiers due to scale, concentration, and the migrations (once infected). Once the mite was on the official list, the carpet-treatments became the part of large-scale routine (with various success).

The "Greg Like" private operators, while playing the part in transmissions of the mites (pretty obvious!), also were the critical part in the Primorsky bee's natural resistance development - because no one required the small yard operators to treat the bees systemically (not that it was even enforceable - NOT).

These random, unregulated, small and widly distributed bush yards where the current Primorsky bees trait originate from - IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #930 · (Edited)
Sorry Greg; Was not meaning to belittle your efforts to translate and transcribe that management system. I dont doubt its efficacy but I see it as so organizationally intensive with time sensitive coordination of events etc., that it would not be simple to implement. Being treatment free is not the simple way by any means. Even when achieved, high mite resistance takes a lot of ongoing effort to maintain or it fades away. Isolation conditions are becoming more and more scarce.
Not a problem.
The work required is there! I don't even argue.

But, like I said, it is very much case by case.
For some it will be a major shift in thinking and management (probably not feasible).

But for myself, I already do multiple yards and move my bees around anyway.
Unfortunately, any meaningful isolation is not possible here.
But at least I don't have issues related to high concentration of the colonies - this is significant. Simple cross-drifting with my colonies is not a high scale issue. Potential robbing of some nearby yards most definitely is an issue - nothing I can do there.

The main idea left to implement - deliberately test the very first frame capped after the brood-less splitting/swarming event (and possibly just destroy it - based on the inspection results).
Very much likely the frame will be infested heavily enough that destroying it will not be a real loss (the brood would be compromised anyway). For sure, this applies to the very first drone brood too, when it is capped.
I personally never paid attention to this little detail - the deliberate "trap-frame" - something to do in the season 2021.
 

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Discussion Starter · #931 ·
I heard the state owned,, imported a lot of bees to replace the lost ones, thinking it was a bad local gene issue and likely exacerbated the issue.
1950s-1960s, the Caucasians were in vogue in the USSR and were thought to be the cure for all.
For example, highly defensive local AMMs was a major PITA to manage on a large scale - the Caucasians were to fix that.
Riiiiight. :)

They imported them everywhere without much consideration, including the Far East too (spoiled lots of native populations along the way, of course).
The state-owned apiaries did this to themselves, and to everyone around them too.

That was some disaster, but it is what it is.
One example where non-qualified state buerocrates can do a lot of damage (per the proposals from the non-qualified "scientists").
 

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Not a problem.
The work required is there! I don't even argue.

But, like I said, it is very much case by case.
For some it will be a major shift in thinking and management (probably not feasible).

But for myself, I already do multiple yards and move my bees around anyway.
Unfortunately, any meaningful isolation is not possible here.
But at least I don't have issues related to high concentration of the colonies - this is significant. Simple cross-drifting with my colonies is not a high scale issue. Potential robbing of some nearby yards most definitely is an issue - nothing I can do there.

The main idea left to implement - deliberately test the very first frame capped after the brood-less splitting/swarming event (and possibly just destroy it - based on the inspection results).
Very much likely the frame will be infested heavily enough that destroying it will not be a real loss (the brood would be compromised anyway). For sure, this applies to the very first drone brood too, when it is capped.
I personally never paid attention to this little detail - the deliberate "trap-frame" - something to do in the season 2021.
you could freeze it and then in a week or 2 put it into a hive to clean out.
or in your case perhaps a brood press.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #933 · (Edited)
brood press.
Brood press!

:)
Even bears know what is more valuable nutritionally (left the honey, ate the brood).


Published online 2020 Dec 3. ...........
Drone Brood Homogenate as Natural Remedy for Treating Health Care Problem: A Scientific and Practical Approach
 

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Discussion Starter · #934 ·
1950s-1960s, the Caucasians were in vogue in the USSR and were thought to be the cure for all.
Here is one of many articles of the era - Beekeeping mag, issue 6/1957, pp. 15-18
The title says:
Improvement of the local bees by the way of crossing them with the Gray Caucasians.
M.T. Golovnya
Ukrainian station of the beekeeping scientific research.

Three pages of scientific proof with graphs and tables how the hybrids are the winners in honey, wax, pollination production, wintering success, as well as the hands down easy management (over the local Ukrainian bees).
The data are probably fudged to agree with the current Party line of the time, but what do I know?
Anyways, the Caucasion hybrids were the super-bee of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #935 ·
Been reading about late season mite importations.

I suppose my #2 and #3 could bring in loads of mites AFTER I measured them.
Must have robbed someone.
 

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I suppose my #2 and #3 could bring in loads of mites AFTER I measured them.
Good reminder, GregV. As Randy indicates:

'Take home message: spot checking is likely to miss the bombs.'

What I've always struggled with concerning the 'mite bomb' theory (particularly in a TF context) is whether robbing and drifting truly represents the fundamental root cause of late-season mite spikes in most cases. Rereading this article, makes me curious if Mr. Oliver is struggling with this too:

'Since the late-season spike is so erratic, I can only guess that a proportion of the hives in each yard are robbing collapsing hives away from my yards. Since there are only a few hobby beekeepers within flight range, I’m strongly suspecting that the mite influx is coming from escaped swarms.'

'Update: it now looks as though that if some of my colonies indeed started out with 20 mites or fewer, that the fall spike could have come about from simple reproduction along with minor drift. I will discuss the need to tweak the protocol of my suggested breeding program to account for this.'

Practically speaking, I wonder if it would be a relatively easy matter to proactively equip all promising colonies with robbing screens to help mitigate (and possibly attenuate out) the prospect of large-scale drift?
 

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Discussion Starter · #937 ·
I wonder if it would be a relatively easy matter to proactively equip all promising colonies with robbing screens to help mitigate (and possibly attenuate out) the prospect of large-scale drift?
Hey, Russ,
Unfortunately, everyone in the vicinity must implement effective anti-robbing measures.
Otherwise, this is not going to work.

With all the hassles I go through to prevent my own bees from being robbed and cross-hive immigrating - I can do absolutely nothing to stop by bees from robbing the neighboring apiaries.

My small round entrances which I aggressively tape over/plug with paper really do work.
It makes sense to do this proactively with any small colonies and with ALL colonies at the season end.

I also found several non-scientific references of round entrances specifically to be efficient anti-robbing mitigation (found NO scientific testing done of these talks - to be sure).

Unfortunately, every season (fall 2020 included) - our local beeks start screaming the same - "I got robbed!"
Those default entrances of the commercial Lang hives are the real issue - they just scream "rob me!"
 

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Practically speaking, I wonder if it would be a relatively easy matter to proactively equip all promising colonies with robbing screens to help mitigate (and possibly attenuate out) the prospect of large-scale drift?
Seeleys work suggests its robing not drifting that is the main cause, arguably a screen for all would help.. it s kinda of like masks, if everyone does it everyone is better

What I've always struggled with concerning the 'mite bomb' theory (particularly in a TF context) is whether robbing and drifting truly represents the fundamental root cause of late-season mite spikes in most cases
While seeley didn't run a control (bad science) or take steps to not have mite reproduction skew the numbers (more bad science) other studies used constant treatment to rid the colonies of mites and kill incoming mites so they could be counted
28 honey bee colonies kept in two apiaries that had high (HBD) and low (LBD) densities of neighboring colonies. At each apiary, half (seven) of the colonies were continuously treated with acaricides to kill all Varroa mites and thereby determine the invasion rates. The other group of colonies was only treated before the beginning of the experiment and then left untreated to record Varroa population growth until a final treatment in November. The numbers of bees and brood cells of all colonies were estimated according to the Liebefeld evaluation method. The invasion rates varied among individual colonies but revealed highly significant differences between the study sites. The average invasion rate per colony over the entire 3.5-mo period ranged from 266 to 1,171 mites at the HBD site compared with only 72 to 248 mites at the LBD apiary. In the untreated colonies, the Varroa population reached an average final infestation in November of 2,082 mites per colony (HBD) and 340 mites per colony (LBD).
of note this wasn't a mite bomb test, just a test of colony density. one assumes there were some bombs, but overall it shows why isolation can be a key component of TF
 

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Good reminder, GregV. As Randy indicates:

'Take home message: spot checking is likely to miss the bombs.'

What I've always struggled with concerning the 'mite bomb' theory (particularly in a TF context) is whether robbing and drifting truly represents the fundamental root cause of late-season mite spikes in most cases. Rereading this article, makes me curious if Mr. Oliver is struggling with this too:

'Since the late-season spike is so erratic, I can only guess that a proportion of the hives in each yard are robbing collapsing hives away from my yards. Since there are only a few hobby beekeepers within flight range, I’m strongly suspecting that the mite influx is coming from escaped swarms.'

'Update: it now looks as though that if some of my colonies indeed started out with 20 mites or fewer, that the fall spike could have come about from simple reproduction along with minor drift. I will discuss the need to tweak the protocol of my suggested breeding program to account for this.'

Practically speaking, I wonder if it would be a relatively easy matter to proactively equip all promising colonies with robbing screens to help mitigate (and possibly attenuate out) the prospect of large-scale drift?
short answer NO.

Russ the screens are not the fix.
When your bees are robbing a collapsing hive, it may not be screened as the owner does not know it is collapsing, often when empty , they ask here "why did the bees leave"?
Or if it is a feral hive ,in a roof , wall or tree it will not be screened.

Even if not collapsing, open fall feeding or setting out wet supers to "clean" offers a ton of bee to bee contact in fall. Bigger bang for your efforts, to eliminate open feeding of any sort (15% gain here)

IMO your installed robber screen protects other hives from your mite bomb collapsing hive , ,,somewhat, a few percent.
As well if you use the same brand or design on the robber screens it will not prevent drift. if all doors are the same who is confused on how to get in?
As well IMO as a hive is "collapsing" some bees leave to join strong hives. (panic drift)

out of 100 points of protection I would give robber screens a 3-5 for over all help/effect. stopping open feeding would be at least 3 times more effective IMO.
Just in case there is doubt, I do not use them , likely never would, would not make them a Varroa defense component, and I kinda do not like them..

Sorry if I am unclear.

:)

GG
 

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Thanks, gents. Just to be clear, I was talking about drift and not robbing. I do understand the concept of 'robber lures' and recognize this is an issue.

My comments relative to robbing screens were in response to Randy's comment that, '... the fall spike could have come about from simple reproduction along with minor drift.' To say nothing about robbing...

I will look forward to reading the research that MSL has posted. Looks like good stuff.

Russ
 
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