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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have to move two out yards and so am faced with setting up the two new yards from scratch. After reading Tom Seeley's latest work on drift and increasing varroa counts I am wondering what the best stratagy would be to reduce drift in a small space. We have heavy bear pressure and the farmers are giving me about a 30' square area for my bear fence. I expect to keep 10-20 hives and was toying with the idea of putting them in a circle probably with their entrances facing out. I k ow some queen breeders do this with mating nucs for qheen orrantation which got me to wondering if that would also affect worker drift. I use oops paint so they are already multi colored.
I would love to hear what others are doing for drift in a small space.
 

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If I remember correctly Seeley concluded that what was needed was distance between hives. You will not accomplish that in a 30' square.
 

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Why is drift something to worry about if they drift to one of your other hives? Does anyone know why bees drift? Not counting drift that occurs when you split a hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Seeley found that hives seperated in a feild to reduce drift and with no frame movement between hives had much better survival and a percentage had lower varroa counts due to reduced drift. We know that a line of hives encourages drift so I am wondering what one can do to discourage drift in a small space. Right now many of my hives are on stands in rows with their entrances alternating directions. Now that I think of it perhaps a circle with alternating directions would be best. It is open grass so I can't throw in a bush or two to help.
 

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I'm having trouble picturing why drift increases Varroa... they are going to reproduce at the same rate if they drift or if they don't drift... it might be helpful for breeding purposes, to minimize drift, as you can tell whether that particular hive is raising more or less Varroa better if the Varroa aren't coming from the hive next door... but I don't see what difference it makes in the overall number of Varroa...
 

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I'm having trouble picturing why drift increases Varroa... they are going to reproduce at the same rate if they drift or if they don't drift... it might be helpful for breeding purposes, to minimize drift, as you can tell whether that particular hive is raising more or less Varroa better if the Varroa aren't coming from the hive next door... but I don't see what difference it makes in the overall number of Varroa...

This is just off the cuff thinking, but most varoa inside a hive are highly inbred correct? Does bringing in varroa from other hives on a regular basis expand their gene pool causing "hybred vigor" so to speak.
 

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I'm having trouble picturing why drift increases Varroa... they are going to reproduce at the same rate if they drift or if they don't drift...
What I think Seeley was talking about was the spread of the mite - re-infestation if you will. He spoke on this at a past EAS. It is somewhat intuitive - hives close together share pathogens and parasites while hives farther apart are less likely to. He measured distances. In most of my yards the hives are two to a hive stand maybe maybe 6 feet between hive stands. I have one yard where I am trying disbursement. I can't disburse at the distances Seeley was talking about as I have bear fence to worry about but I figured any distance apart would help. (Moving nucs and single deep colonies in the spring is easy - moving full colonies later in the season is a pain! And bee yard maintenance - keeping pathways open to colonies, weeds off of the bear fence, etc., are time consuming.)

To the OP - using this logic the most distance you can get between your colonies may help, but I fear with your apiary size restriction you will not be able to achieve adequate distances apart to see positive impact.
 

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What I think Seeley was talking about was the spread of the mite - re-infestation if you will. He spoke on this at a past EAS. It is somewhat intuitive - hives close together share pathogens and parasites while hives farther apart are less likely to. He measured distances. In most of my yards the hives are two to a hive stand maybe maybe 6 feet between hive stands. I have one yard where I am trying disbursement. I can't disburse at the distances Seeley was talking about as I have bear fence to worry about but I figured any distance apart would help. (Moving nucs and single deep colonies in the spring is easy - moving full colonies later in the season is a pain! And bee yard maintenance - keeping pathways open to colonies, weeds off of the bear fence, etc., are time consuming.)

To the OP - using this logic the most distance you can get between your colonies may help, but I fear with your apiary size restriction you will not be able to achieve adequate distances apart to see positive impact.

After going back and reading the article this makes some sense, but you would think it would effect even at a further distance as well not from drift but from robbing out the weaker hives and bringing more mites over. What I didn't understand was where he talked about the need to further research on swarming and the effects of varoa. Hasn't there been ample research on brood breaks and it's effect on varoa?
 

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According to Seeley drift affects the virulence of varroa. There are two ways for varroa to reach the next generation, horizontally, where they move from host population to host population, and vertically, where they only have a single host population to parasitize. In the first case, horizontal transmission, varroa is free to utterly destroy its population, because it can be easily replaced by a new uninfected one.

This is the situation you have when drift occurs, varroa are free to be as virulent as they wanna be because once they kill a hive they can easily move over to another one.

In the second case, vertical transmission, distance between populations is so great that populations of varroa are essentially isolated. In such cases, it doesn't serve varroa to be virulent, destroying the host destroys the parasite. Seeley's hypothesis, based on what he saw in the Arnot forest, is that isolated populations of varroa dial back their virulence and individual hives are more likely to enter into a sustainable host/parasite relationship.

Very interestingpaper, recommended reading.
 

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So apparently Seeley's point is the survival of bees that are good at handling Varroa and Varroa that live in balance with the bees is enhanced by a lack of drifting and harmed by close proximity. Good points. Now I just need a separate yard for each hive...
 

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So apparently Seeley's point is the survival of bees that are good at handling Varroa and Varroa that live in balance with the bees is enhanced by a lack of drifting and harmed by close proximity. Good points. Now I just need a separate yard for each hive...
Yes. . . from the point of view of a beekeeper its hard to see any practical measures that could be effected to take advantage of his observations. However, I take this as positive evidence that there is pressure on varroa to enter into a sustainable host/parasite relationship. While in Seeley's forest this pressure acts on isolated hives, I don't see any reason in principle why the same thing couldn't start to happen on larger populations such as small beeyards. I think it's unlikely that 1,000 hives would exert the same kind of pressure on varroa populations. . . but perhaps in beeyards of 5-10 hives populations of less virulent varroa can develop over time. . . and then scaled up.
 

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How would varroa know if it should dial back its paracitic behavior because it was occupying a single hive or pursue host distruction because there was multiple hives?
 

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After going back and reading the article this makes some sense, but you would think it would effect even at a further distance as well not from drift but from robbing out the weaker hives and bringing more mites over. What I didn't understand was where he talked about the need to further research on swarming and the effects of varoa. Hasn't there been ample research on brood breaks and it's effect on varoa?
Brood breaks help, but they are not the panacea some on BeeSource might have you think. Varroa mites summer life is a couple of weeks longer than a typical worker bee. Brood breaks keep the mites from reproducing but do nothing to reduce the mite population. I have seen too many first year prime swarms collapse from Varroa late in the summer - I'm guessing that the bees were well paratisized before swarming and brought phoretic mites with them.
 

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Brood breaks help, but they are not the panacea some on BeeSource might have you think. Varroa mites summer life is a couple of weeks longer than a typical worker bee. Brood breaks keep the mites from reproducing but do nothing to reduce the mite population. I have seen too many first year prime swarms collapse from Varroa late in the summer - I'm guessing that the bees were well paratisized before swarming and brought phoretic mites with them.
everybody that I have read or listened to speak about rasing bees without miticide treatments claim that when there is a break in brood you have all these mites looking for a place to crawl into and lay. and when that first batch of brood gets ready to be capped they are all trying and there is not much brood so you end up with many more in a cell than what it can support and they all die along with the brood.
 

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How would varroa know if it should dial back its paracitic behavior because it was occupying a single hive or pursue host distruction because there was multiple hives?
This shouldn't be understood literally; I doubt they 'know' anything. It's shorthand for the myriad pressures acting on them which causes less virulent strains of varroa to develop when their only route of transmission is vertical. I don't really know what those pressures might be though they are certainly complex, they are not meant to be understood as a conscious decision making process.
 

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everybody that I have read or listened to speak about rasing bees without miticide treatments claim that when there is a break in brood you have all these mites looking for a place to crawl into and lay. and when that first batch of brood gets ready to be capped they are all trying and there is not much brood so you end up with many more in a cell than what it can support and they all die along with the brood.
This claim or observation or whatever is what needs additional study.
 

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This claim or observation or whatever is what needs additional study.
I'm inclined to think there has to be something to it, how else would guys like Michael Bush, Sam Comfort, and the MDAsplitter guy ( name slipped my mind ) keep bees without treating for varoa for all those yrs? It makes biological sense that anytime you try to treat anything and you don't kill all of it, those that survive the treatment will be more resistant. We've seen it with some of the old bee meds, we've seen in in farm animals, and we see it in humans. Remember when Penicillin would cure anything that aled ya?
 

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I'm inclined to think there has to be something to it, how else would guys like Michael Bush, Sam Comfort, and the MDAsplitter guy ( name slipped my mind ) keep bees without treating for varoa for all those yrs?
I'm not saying that this mechanism does not work as you describe; instead that it needs to be documented. Anecdotal evidence often equals myth, especially on BeeSource where many novices accept statements without understanding and repeat them as fact.

The missing name is Mel Disselkoen.

I am not trying to be argumentative. Precise yes, and accurate.
 
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