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... my (still-alive) VSH queen ...
GregV:

Sorry to read about your troubles- I was wondering as I read your previous post if your bought-in queen was the survivor.

Does this data point offer any inkling as to whether a closed-population model program might work in your location?

Seems more than coincidence that the only colony that survived is the survivor-stock queen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,142 ·
GregV:

Sorry to read about your troubles- I was wondering as I read your previous post if your bought-in queen was the survivor.

Does this data point offer any inkling as to whether a closed-population model program might work in your location?

Seems more than coincidence that the only colony that survived is the survivor-stock queen.
Indeed, this purchased VSH queen is the survivor.
They survived, never thrived, and if not for my support they would have perished without a doubt as well - simply not being able to build up enough stores for the winter on their own.

They also heavily consumed the dry sugar placed on top of the frames under heavy insulation - the only way this smallish cluster could survive. They ate almost entire fondant pancake and started on the other.
If not for these, they'd most likely freeze away from honey frames (see pics). They basically just clustered above the frames and under insulation - in that warm pocket they were able to survive OK.

This brood frame picture I have been re-posting is telling a good story what kind of a beating they took.
The closed-population model based on 100% VSH queens will still take a heavy beating at my location and will be unproductive without some additional way to drop the mite levels.
This is even if I mate my queens at the VSH queen seller's site - (which I mean to do as a test) - mating at my own almond-drone infested location is poor.
 

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The closed-population model based on 100% VSH queens will still take a heavy beating at my location and will be unproductive without some additional way to drop the mite levels.
GregV:

I can appreciate the situation you are in and concede that it might always be a tough slog to make progress toward TF in your specific environment. That said, I am struck that the Wilderness Apiaries queen made it through where all others failed despite the local adaptation challenge of coming out of a maritime climate in addition to the presumed reduction in brood and foraging force as a result of the splits you took off, accepting that the colony needed help to make it through. In the spirit of constructive feedback as a outside observer, I wonder:

Are there any resistant mated queen stocks from a similar biotope as yours that you might be able to bring in that might help mitigate the local adaptation issue? Maybe through the Northern Bee Network?

Do you think the mite picture might have been different for the survivor queen colony had all the colonies in the immediate vicinity been of similar VSH bona fides?

Just thinking out loud here in wondering what I might consider if I were in your shoes- not trying to pile on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,144 ·
Are there any resistant mated queen stocks from a similar biotope as yours that you might be able to bring in that might help mitigate the local adaptation issue? Maybe through the Northern Bee Network?
Regarding this - I catch plenty of bees that appear to be locally suitable.

For example, that colony that expired in March was of some lineage that I feel would be totally fine.
The mother colony of this March colony expired sometimes in February - also was a good colony.
So why did I loose these bees? Because I did not treat.

Rewinding back - I should have done a OA treatment on the initial swarm caught in June.
Then I should have OA treated the split off (when brood-less) when I did that in July.
A single effective knock-off would have likely saved this particular line - a shame but I now lost them.

I can only cross my fingers to again catch some promising bees - which I often do.
Pretty much I routinely enough catch some bees that hold out into January/February.
These, I hope, will be the candidates to benefit from a clean (re)start.

And then some other bees - a single OA cleanup will not do them any good - and if they still die then so be it .
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,145 · (Edited)
Do you think the mite picture might have been different for the survivor queen colony had all the colonies in the immediate vicinity been of similar VSH bona fides?
Probably so.
But let us be realistic - somehow, someone needs to go around and replace 50-100-200-(?) queens with the VSH stock in my vicinity in a single transaction.
Then repeat this the next year (to replace the losses and to cancel out the next batch of almond packages).
And the next year.

I will not do it and no one will do it.
And here is not China or Soviet Union to successfully pull of a similar deal - need to have strong autocratic environment for this to pull off. We can not even pull of a successful COVID vaccination in the US - trying to herd too many stray cats.

PS: I know - MSL will come and say: "Just sell those 2-day queen cups across the area".
Well, I don't even know who keeps the bees few houses over from me every single season.
People in the suburbs routinely decide they will "start keeping the bees" and no one reports to me about it.
I am not going to be knocking the doors along the street every spring to ask if they keep bees and then offer my queens.
All I know that this particular season 2021 my back porch traps may not be as busy - not seen a single bee yet sniffing around my empty hives. Typically by now I have bees all over the empty equipment in the backyard. Maybe COVID got the bees this year.
 

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All I know that this particular season 2021 my back porch traps may not be as busy - not seen a single bee yet sniffing around my empty hives. Typically by now I have bees all over the empty equipment in the backyard. Maybe COVID got the bees this year.
I have seen fewer than 10 bees this spring (other than my own hive). One or two in my garage sniffing my stacked frames. Zero checking out my back yard deadouts or the traps.
 

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So why did I loose these bees? Because I did not treat.

Rewinding back - I should have done a OA treatment on the initial swarm caught in June.
Then I should have OA treated the split off (when brood-less) when I did that in July.
A single effective knock-off would have likely saved this particular line - a shame but I now lost them.

And then some other bees - a single OA cleanup will not do them any good - and if they still die then so be it .
A friend of mine who manages almond bees tells me he does OA dribble every week on every hive that comes back from Cali. Every week, all season long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,148 ·
A friend of mine who manages almond bees tells me he does OA dribble every week on every hive that comes back from Cali. Every week, all season long.
Now these are the kinds of bees or the management we don't need.
 

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Regarding this - I catch plenty of bees that appear to be locally suitable.
GregV:

I think I can respect your position. I suppose what I was curious about is what might happen if one in your situation set-up a yard with locally-adapted, survivor-stock queens and all were equipped with robber screens and/or other techniques to minimize drift?

In other words, if one concedes that they live in a genetic wasteland, could a tightly-managed closed-population model work?

Not saying you should do this, just thinking through the possibilities.
 

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In my neck of the woods, there is some momentum to raise local queens. This is an important first step. Also no one around here takes their bees to pollination (blueberries) that I know of. These are both positive steps towards sustainability and local adaptation. Still not part of the message at the provincial level, but local beekeepers are moving on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,151 · (Edited)
GregV:

I think I can respect your position. I suppose what I was curious about is what might happen if one in your situation set-up a yard with locally-adapted, survivor-stock queens and all were equipped with robber screens and/or other techniques to minimize drift?

In other words, if one concedes that they live in a genetic wasteland, could a tightly-managed closed-population model work?

Not saying you should do this, just thinking through the possibilities.
A tightly-managed closed-population in a genetic wasteland.

OK, I suppose I can implement additional drift controls via robber screens.
At least to protect the most valuable stock i. e. daughters of my VSH queen.
Even though I am pretty happy with my reduced/blocked entrance methods as robbing prevention as I don't have this issue (rather common otherwise).
But of course, I don't know IF my entrances block any quiet drifting INTO my hives from across the landscape.

However - I never understood the logic of the anti-robbing devices installed into MY hives preventing MY own bees from robbing the mite bombs that occur across the vicinity. There was this writing posted here recently to that effect.

AFAIK - there is nothing that I can do protect myself from the late summer/early fall mite bombs. Per the local complaints, these incidents are very common in the vicinity, when many beeks don't even recognize they are being robbed. So this is the real and major issue on hand.

However, in long term the only way to maintain some sort of a closed population is to create and maintain some sort of closed-in mating area where we control the VSH drone presence. Without such mating yard(s) most any closed population will fade away without continuous queen imports.

To that effect, I got an agreement with my local VSH provider to bring my virgin material to his bee yard for mating.
Like I demonstrated last year yet (by video links) - the high quality mating yards are a feasible project and can be done (and, in fact, as a commercial project).
With any luck we will try this out this season. The VSH provider himself was unfamiliar with the concept so I had to explain... :)
Though to him the community mating yard could be another source of income.

I am afraid the folks will not appreciate the mating yard idea and extra hassles around it.
To most here, locally mated queens means (magically!) a local queen. The sooner the better too! Understanding that the almond drones are controlling most of the air space is just not getting across.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,152 · (Edited)
In my neck of the woods, there is some momentum to raise local queens. This is an important first step. Also no one around here takes their bees to pollination (blueberries) that I know of. These are both positive steps towards sustainability and local adaptation. Still not part of the message at the provincial level, but local beekeepers are moving on.
We do have local queen.
My lone survivor VSH queen was produced locally.
The main issue is (typical here) - vast majority of local folks have no discipline OR the understanding to hold the line against early imports. There is this "buy, buy, buy" frenzy stirred up by the vendors.
Meanwhile, our locally produced bees for sale will be only up in about a month the earliest.
Regarding the local queens - I would not even consider any local queen until July production.
But who is going to wait that long?

People don't even understand the very simple logic of "you start preparing for the winter as soon as you get your bees in May". You start this by getting the right bees.

Of course, the alternative ideas are around too, directly on BS - such as "the local bees don't matter". Some BS members from Canada are of that opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,153 ·
To clarify this:
I catch plenty of bees that appear to be locally suitable.
Last season out of 11 swarms that I caught, I subjectively felt 3-4 were of Russian and/or Carnica origin.
I later did the morpho-analysis across all my samples to also suggest the Russian and/or Carnica origins were present.

I would consider these bees to be "locally suitable" (partly why I also wanted to learn the morpho-analysis tools - so to better identify such bees).

If preserved (i.e. OA-treated as is necessary at my location) and propagated, these could be a good base for further local selection.
So I have had plenty of such opportunities - unfortunately wasted.
Hopefully, the planned future adjustments will be effective.
 

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However - I never understood the logic of the anti-robbing devices installed into MY hives preventing MY own bees from robbing the mite bombs that occur across the vicinity. There was this writing posted here recently to that effect.
GregV:

Like I said, I'm not suggesting what you should do, just conducting a thought experiment in light of your situation.

My thought was that if someone in your situation:

1. Brought in mated, locally-adapted, survivor-stock queens and;

2. Provided relatively-tight drift control to help mitigate late-season mite migration (i.e. the study here),

They might have a reasonable chance of running a treatment-free or treatment-light operation with the caveat that it might involve regular re-queening.

So while it might not be self-sustaining, it might at least move in the direction of less treatments.

Just making conversation, so again, please don't take this as my suggestion as what you should do.
 

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PS: I know - MSL will come and say:
Actually I would say the problem is not genetics, If genetics (out crossing) was your problem you would see hives with queens that had wintered twice or 3 times failing when they superseded. Your records show year one or year 2 failure to mites on all queens...meaning out crossing is not your problem, as you say
So why did I loose these bees? Because I did not treat.
that has been your problem, and is very likely the areas problem (as it is in most suburban settings ), lack of good mite control leading to high mite pressure making good mite control harder

In your state treating BYBKs (5 year advarge) lose 52%
the eivel commercials with there "almond bees" that are so bad that they are only losing 25% in your state :cautious:
why? They take better care of their bees

Your weather is hard on bees, and your area sounds to have a high mite load...

We can yap all we want about "local" adaption, sure it has an effect. But we see NZ packages do just fine in Can with proper care
Like wise we see Etienne Tardif saying he doesn't have an issue overwintering CA commercial queens in the Yukon (zone 1) even in 5 frame nucs

Step one to Local improved stock is keeping the bees people have alive to lessen the need for imports, And the main step for that is good mite mangmnet
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,157 ·
.........Just making conversation, so again, please don't take this as my suggestion as what you should do.
Sure - no suggestions.
In general, I prefer the least possible dependency on the outside inputs (which then require monetary outputs from me).

And surely, this may work, IMO.
As a pure, academic demonstration of TF possibility it surely should work for some amount of time (not indefinitely).

To your #1 and #2 pre-conditions there should be added #3, however.

3. The initial, nominally mite-sterile environment needs to be provided to the queens from #1.
This is an important precondition.
I killed many queens without providing at least some resemblence of #3.

To my current sole survivor I provided a brood-less shook swarm of young bees.
That helped - combined with the VSH traits.
A single OA dribble of that shook swarm would make even a better start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,158 · (Edited)
In your state treating BYBKs (5 year advarge) lose 52%
the eivel commercials with there "almond bees" that are so bad that they are only losing 25% in your state :cautious:
why? They take better care of their bees
Yes - sure, they do.
As AR1 said:
A friend of mine who manages almond bees tells me he does OA dribble every week on every hive that comes back from Cali. Every week, all season long.
At this rate my honey pressing from the used brood frame will be producing honey with OA crystals in it. What is the value in that exactly for me?

The important difference:
1#) do you focus on bee production?
OR
2#) do you focus on clean bee product production?

Bee sellers clearly are focused on #1 and the formula for that has been well developed - "treat every week, all season long".

To be honest, the real money now days is in pollination and bee sales and that is where the priorities are.
Bee products? Meh.
US does not even have a good bee product market (I ranted enough already).
Trivial bee bread needs to be ordered from Bulgaria and Lithuania (of questionable purity).

I have been ranting all along - it is #2 for me.
Reliable bee supply is a good thing to have (not required but good to have) - which I don't have without predictable and sufficient survivability.
Predicable and sufficient survivability - this is what we are working on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,159 ·
Your records show year one or year 2 failure to mites on all queens...meaning out crossing is not your problem, as you say
Right.
The current over-wintered VSH queen is alive.
All three open-mated daughters - croaked in compatible conditions.
My very last example.
:)

But like I said also - granted the clean starts, the daughters could have also survived (a current working theory). They did show OK mite counts - but was not low enough.
 

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Right.
The current over-wintered VSH queen is alive.
All three open-mated daughters - croaked in compatible conditions.
My very last example.
:)

But like I said also - granted the clean starts, the daughters could have also survived (a current working theory). They did show OK mite counts - but was not low enough.
Something occurred to me today, putting various strands together. Last year you were getting swarms weeks before I expected based on my last 5 years record keeping, and 90 miles south of your location. And, recently discussing almond bees management, I learned that hives back from cali are being split now in Wisconsin. They are far advanced over local bees and are already full of drones and ready to split and mate.

So, I suspect that the early swarms you were getting last year were directly from cali almond bees, bred with cali almond drones, arrived from cali just weeks before. The only local swarms would be those gotten in June or later. Local swarms here in N Illinois seem to begin at the very end of May. Local swarms in Madison would at my guess be at least a week later per the agricultural/climate cycle which predicts a growing season of one week later per 100 miles north in the Midwest.

Just my suspicions, and leads me to think those bees probably could do with a couple rounds of mite control early on, and might explain the poor results you have been getting.
 
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