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Hello

Marcy from Maine here reporting in. I am so excited. Once again all my colonies made it through winter and this was CRAZY winter here in Maine. No winter losses and so I continue with my natural bee keeping approach.

I did lose one hive due to queenlessness (likely not an actual word) and laying workers last fall. I just could not get it queen right. Which leads me to my question. I have been regressing my bees and it is going slowly but working. My mite counts were ok till that hive went queenless causing the hive to lay drone like crazy. The mite count in that hive went way up as mites love larger cells. I will mite check Spring colonies and likely use FGMO if needed but I do know there was drifting and robbing from the hive I lost.

Here is my tactic for this spring

  • Robbing screens on all colonies
  • Check for higher mite counts and FMGO as needed
  • Continue regressing
  • Begin new colony with bees raised on small cell

I would love to hear opinions as to the placement of these already small cell bees. 2 questions

1) Is it a bad idea to keep the new raised on small cell bees in the same yard as the other colonies? (I am installing this package tomorrow or the next day weather permitting) I am concerned about the drift, robbing and mite issue.

2) How far away should I place this hive if proximity is an issue?


I love natural bee keeping. It seems to work just fine and I am learning so much!!!

As usual all opinions appreciated.

Best
Marcy
 

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Hi Marcy, I'm glad to hear your bees fared well this winter. I don't see an issue having small cell bees in the same yard as larger cell bees. Be cautious with FGMO - I hate the idea of putting a Petroleum product into a bee hive - and most of the folks I have communicated with who have tried it say it does next to nothing when it comes to suppressing mites.
 

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Hi Marcy, I'm glad to hear your bees fared well this winter. I don't see an issue having small cell bees in the same yard as larger cell bees. Be cautious with FGMO - I hate the idea of putting a Petroleum product into a bee hive - and most of the folks I have communicated with who have tried it say it does next to nothing when it comes to suppressing mites.
Hi Andrew

Great to hear form you! I always appreciate your input. Is it your feeling that it is best to use OA instead? and if so why?

I hope your bees faired well over the winter Andrew. I am surprised anything stayed alive this winter in New England ;) although the bees are hardy 'lil creatures.

Best
Marcy
 

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We're posting in the Treatment Free forum, Marcy, and talking about treatments here is dicey. OA has worldwide history as an effective miticide but is just now getting legal approval in this country. The EPA has said they will approve OA based products, but I am not aware of what products they may be considering. According to Tony nothing has been approved for OA in Maine - again I'm not certain if any products have sought approval. The EPA is setup to approve specific products, rather than the generic that you might buy at your local hardware store. Most OA recipes that you find on-line are talking about the generic.

My take on OA is that the concentration of OA used as a miticide is far greater than what occurs naturally. Sames goes for the other organic acid treatment that has EPA approval - Formic. I look at it as ants or rhubarb leaves - you get to choose. Some products based on Formic have been through the regulatory process and approved.

I suspect that major reasons for OA's popularity on the Internet are 1) cost (the generic is inexpensive) and 2) some people enjoying feeling they know better than the government. At least where their bees are concerned.

This is where I love being a uMaine Master Gardener Volunteer, as there is policy in place that I can't encourage people to use any pesticides. And make no mistake about it, even though OA is considered "organic" and last I checked allowed in the CNG program, it is being used as a pesticide. If you look at the sample label that EPA put out, it requires the applicator to use a respirator. Hmmmm.
 

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We're posting in the Treatment Free forum, Marcy, and talking about treatments here is dicey. OA has worldwide history as an effective miticide but is just now getting legal approval in this country. The EPA has said they will approve OA based products, but I am not aware of what products they may be considering. According to Tony nothing has been approved for OA in Maine - again I'm not certain if any products have sought approval. The EPA is setup to approve specific products, rather than the generic that you might buy at your local hardware store. Most OA recipes that you find on-line are talking about the generic.

My take on OA is that the concentration of OA used as a miticide is far greater than what occurs naturally. Sames goes for the other organic acid treatment that has EPA approval - Formic. I look at it as ants or rhubarb leaves - you get to choose. Some products based on Formic have been through the regulatory process and approved.

I suspect that major reasons for OA's popularity on the Internet are 1) cost (the generic is inexpensive) and 2) some people enjoying feeling they know better than the government. At least where their bees are concerned.

This is where I love being a uMaine Master Gardener Volunteer, as there is policy in place that I can't encourage people to use any pesticides. And make no mistake about it, even though OA is considered "organic" and last I checked allowed in the CNG program, it is being used as a pesticide. If you look at the sample label that EPA put out, it requires the applicator to use a respirator. Hmmmm.
We're posting in the Treatment Free forum, Marcy, and talking about treatments here is dicey. OA has worldwide history as an effective miticide but is just now getting legal approval in this country. The EPA has said they will approve OA based products, but I am not aware of what products they may be considering. According to Tony nothing has been approved for OA in Maine - again I'm not certain if any products have sought approval. The EPA is setup to approve specific products, rather than the generic that you might buy at your local hardware store. Most OA recipes that you find on-line are talking about the generic.

My take on OA is that the concentration of OA used as a miticide is far greater than what occurs naturally. Sames goes for the other organic acid treatment that has EPA approval - Formic. I look at it as ants or rhubarb leaves - you get to choose. Some products based on Formic have been through the regulatory process and approved.

I suspect that major reasons for OA's popularity on the Internet are 1) cost (the generic is inexpensive) and 2) some people enjoying feeling they know better than the government. At least where their bees are concerned.

This is where I love being a uMaine Master Gardener Volunteer, as there is policy in place that I can't encourage people to use any pesticides. And make no mistake about it, even though OA is considered "organic" and last I checked allowed in the CNG program, it is being used as a pesticide. If you look at the sample label that EPA put out, it requires the applicator to use a respirator. Hmmmm.
Hello Andrew:

As always excellent information. And yes I should have said right off the bat I have not used chemicals in my hives for years and do not advocate doing so. I try hard to be treatment free and will keep doing so. My losses have been minimal so far. But just in case I decide to intervene all this is good information. Thank you by the way for reminding me to use a respirator :) yes ... hmmmmmmmmm. Hopefully my mite counts will still be quite low. We each have to weigh when to step in, how to step in, and when not to.

On a lighter note... with these new small bees that are coming my way, I will be feeding them. Any preferences here as to what to feed and how?? I think because it is still a bit chilly here at night especially I would give plastic bag feeders a try as they are more likely to feed from this as opposed to top feeding with a bucket. I usually would feed a light sugar syrup in a 2 parts water to 1 part sugar solution but I am wondering if I can feed watered down honey to them. Any thoughts? I may have some frames of honey in the freezer from last year but they would not be small cell and the MAIN entertainment of this bee keeping 2015 season is giving these bees raised on small cell a try so I would hate to introduce larger cells into the environment.

Wow the bees do keep us all thinking!

So has anyone fed watered down honey in bags before and have any advice?

Thank you again Andrew.
 

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>I did lose one hive due to queenlessness (likely not an actual word) and laying workers last fall.

Yes. It's an actual word "queenless", "queenlesness", "queenright"...

>1) Is it a bad idea to keep the new raised on small cell bees in the same yard as the other colonies? (I am installing this package tomorrow or the next day weather permitting) I am concerned about the drift, robbing and mite issue.

Things even out in an apiary. But the other hives will benefit as much as the small cell will suffer. It all works out in the end.

>2) How far away should I place this hive if proximity is an issue?

Why not just regress the rest of the yard?

>On a lighter note... with these new small bees that are coming my way, I will be feeding them. Any preferences here as to what to feed and how??

I would feed 5:3 syrup. Nothing added that would make smell. Honey draws robbers. Any additive to the syrup that adds smell will draw robbers. There are many feeding options. I use what I have. A bottom board will work. You can just prop the front and pour syrup on the bottom just before dark... that's free.

>I usually would feed a light sugar syrup in a 2 parts water to 1 part sugar solution but I am wondering if I can feed watered down honey to them. Any thoughts?

1:2 syrup (sugar : water) spoils quickly. I prefer 5:3 (sugar : water) as it keeps much better. Honey draws robbers.

> I may have some frames of honey in the freezer from last year but they would not be small cell and the MAIN entertainment of this bee keeping 2015 season is giving these bees raised on small cell a try so I would hate to introduce larger cells into the environment.

I would not put large cell comb in unless you put it above an excluder so the queen can't lay in it.

>So has anyone fed watered down honey in bags before and have any advice?

Don't water it down. If you want to feed honey, feed it straight. It will spoil very quickly watered down.
 

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>I did lose one hive due to queenlessness (likely not an actual word) and laying workers last fall.

Yes. It's an actual word "queenless", "queenlesness", "queenright"...

>1) Is it a bad idea to keep the new raised on small cell bees in the same yard as the other colonies? (I am installing this package tomorrow or the next day weather permitting) I am concerned about the drift, robbing and mite issue.

Things even out in an apiary. But the other hives will benefit as much as the small cell will suffer. It all works out in the end.

>2) How far away should I place this hive if proximity is an issue?

Why not just regress the rest of the yard?

>On a lighter note... with these new small bees that are coming my way, I will be feeding them. Any preferences here as to what to feed and how??

I would feed 5:3 syrup. Nothing added that would make smell. Honey draws robbers. Any additive to the syrup that adds smell will draw robbers. There are many feeding options. I use what I have. A bottom board will work. You can just prop the front and pour syrup on the bottom just before dark... that's free.

>I usually would feed a light sugar syrup in a 2 parts water to 1 part sugar solution but I am wondering if I can feed watered down honey to them. Any thoughts?

1:2 syrup (sugar:water) spoils quickly. I prefer 5:3 (sugar:water) as it keeps much better. Honey draws robbers.

> I may have some frames of honey in the freezer from last year but they would not be small cell and the MAIN entertainment of this bee keeping 2015 season is giving these bees raised on small cell a try so I would hate to introduce larger cells into the environment.

I would not put large cell comb in unless you put it above an excluder so the queen can't lay in it.

>So has anyone fed watered down honey in bags before and have any advice?

Don't water it down. If you want to feed honey, feed it straight. It will spoil very quickly watered down.
Michael

Thank you. As always your answers are straight forward. I am wondering a few things. I have never used a bottom board to feed. I do not have a top entrance hole although I am thinking I will now go drill one. I was planning on installing the package and releasing the queen by leaving the queen in the cage with the cork removed on the bottom board. Do you do this wait overnight and then fill that same bottom board with 5:3 sugar to water syrup?

Yes I am regressing the entire bee yard. Michael I am curious how long do you think it takes to regress an average colony under average conditions?

Thanks in advance!
 

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>I have never used a bottom board to feed. I do not have a top entrance hole although I am thinking I will now go drill one.

I wouldn't drill holes in the boxes. Notch the inner cover or prop it on shims...

> I was planning on installing the package and releasing the queen by leaving the queen in the cage with the cork removed on the bottom board.

She may get abandoned and may die from cold if you pull that from the candy end. Luckily it seems to be warming up, but still it's risky. If the cork is from the end that releases her (there may not be two ends if you have Califormia cages) And I would not feed on the bottom if you have a queen there, of course. But if she can leave it will work.

>Do you do this wait overnight and then fill that same bottom board with 5:3 sugar to water syrup?

It doesn't really have to be very full. Just so they get enough everyday to keep going. Soon there will be plenty blooming. Tipping the bottom back works, but you can get fancier if you like:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#bottom

>Yes I am regressing the entire bee yard. Michael I am curious how long do you think it takes to regress an average colony under average conditions?

If I ever see an average colony I will try to measure it... I have seen packages draw 4.7mm on the first try and 4.6mm on the second try. I've seen bees that never want to go below 5.1mm. Most will take two to three turnovers of comb. It's not a matter of time, but a matter of getting small cell comb. If you put large cell bees on small cell comb you'll be done as soon as the new bees emerge. If you put them on foundationless, it will take two to three turnovers of comb. If you put them on PF120s or PF100s they will draw it 4.94mm and you will have them regressed when the first bees emerge.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm#HowToRegress
 

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>>1) Is it a bad idea to keep the new raised on small cell bees in the same yard as the other colonies? (I am installing this package tomorrow or the next day weather permitting) I am concerned about the drift, robbing and mite issue.<<

Things even out in an apiary. But the other hives will benefit as much as the small cell will suffer. It all works out in the end.
How can Michael know this. He says he keeps only small cell bees and claims he has no need to do a side by side comparison test.

Those that have tested "regressed" bees in pairs against normal foundation hives find no differences (whether hives are in close proximity or isolated).

Much of beekeeping today consists of separating the wacky i'net theories from the reality. Unless you test your systems side by side (or in paired groups) you will have no idea if the "theory-de-jour" has basis or is just another in a long-line of marketing gimicks.
 

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>How can Michael know this. He says he keeps only small cell bees and claims he has no need to do a side by side comparison test.

"The percentage of foragers originating from different colonies within the apiary ranged from 32 to 63 percent"--from a paper, published in 1991 by Walter Boylan-Pett and Roger Hoopingarner in Acta Horticulturae 288, 6th Pollination Symposium (see Jan 2010 edition of Bee Culture, 36)
 
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