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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A modicum of information points to local Varroa free or Varroa minimized locations. The local absence or local hypo-virulence of the parasite may be a significant confounding factor in the reported success of TF prescriptions. I agree that hypo-virulence is part of the "virtuous cycle" that establishes when bees obtain a foothold against Varroa --- lower rates of horizontal transmission changes the infection dynamic to support the rapid selection of hypo-virulence in the population -- Dr. Seeley will likely publish the authoritative presentation of this dymanic.

Scotland maps Varroa free areas with precise granularity. There is an invasion front, and establishment on Isle of Lewes from commercially infected packages establishes there is no natural limit in the West. The researchers have found isolated populations often do not invariably lead to infection, as the rapid local extinction removes the infection. Local extinction is easier when the conditions are already marginal -- this is the hypothesis of Varroa free zones in Newfoundland and Thunder Bay, Ontario.


The original invasion in southern England was mapped with precision also. It demonstrates that some regions were tardy and resistant even in the initial invasion phase.


The US national mapping is limited in granularity. North Dakota is most careful.


A multi-year compendium map provides some detail for Kansas


The maps suggest that the famous 100th parallel division of the high plains may encourage local extinction or local hypo-virulence in this area. It appears ND-SD-NE-KS have a checkerboard pattern of
Varroa density. Does the lack of diversity driven by intensive agriculture, or harsh winters account for this pattern?

The maps illustrate the nostrum -- all bee-keeping is local, and may support the idea that the reported success with TF by Nebraska keepers is an accident of geography and not the result a particular, transferable cultural practice.
 

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>The maps illustrate the nostrum -- all bee-keeping is local, and may support the idea that the reported success with TF by Nebraska keepers is an accident of geography and not the result a particular, transferable cultural practice.

And once again you ignore the dramatic difference when changing cultural practices in the same location. If your theory is correct then it should not matter what the cultural practices are, the success should remain fairly constant. But that has not been the case at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
**Everyone** I have personal, verifiable experience with saw no improvement with small cell culture.

I think you could easily test your hypothesis. I wonder why you refuse. I know you say you have no need because you have solved your problems, but the legions of beekeepers trying to implement the solution have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, I think you owe some verification to them.
 

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> I wonder why you refuse.

The list of things I need to do and don't have time to do is almost endless. You apparently think I have a lot of spare time. I find your "legions of beekeepers" who have spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" very suspicious considering I get hundreds of emails every week from people thanking me for what I've shared and who are succeeding very well on natural cell or small cell and no treatments and only a rare email where someone even reports losing a hive or two and usually those are not regressed yet. You would think at least a few of those "legions" would report on their massive failures.
 

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JWC, why would Michael Bush owe you, or anyone else, a verification? You are free to take his advice or not, use it or not, and modify it to fit your needs as you see fit.
 

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JWC, why would Michael Bush owe you, or anyone else, a verification? You are free to take his advice or not, use it or not, and modify it to fit your needs as you see fit.
I always find it interesting how many people on the internet are hell-bent on proving others wrong on topics that have no personal impact on them. This is only my first year doing this, and nothing I read or see has made me anticipate anything other than total losses from all of my colonies this winter. Maybe that's a good attitude to build from... I don't know.

I've found Mr. Bush's website to be invaluable on a whole bunch of beekeeping topics while many conversations here end up focusing not on bees, but on the beekeeper. I don't expect double blind million dollar studies from a guy who has a free website about bees.

Who knows if he is right/wrong/lying/etc? All I know is that I suspect he's more right than he is wrong and he's probably not lying. At the very least, he seems more truthful than people who have ten hives telling him there's no way he can be doing what he's doing. His approaches seem to make great sense to me, and he is (on a larger scale) the type of operation I'd like to have at some point in the future... so why wouldn't I take his advice? The advice I got from the people we purchased packages from this year - "Make sure you treat them." Gee thanks!

I don't expect my package bees to survive treatment free for very long. The only reason I bought packages to begin with was to "get my feet wet" and try to get lucky finding some swarms/local genetics nearby. And only then because everyone I talked to said "there are no bees around here anymore", "I haven't seen a swarm in 20 years", etc etc. I haven't kept perfect track, but I've successfully caught five swarms. Turned down at least that many cutouts, turned down at least three swarm calls that were too far away, and arrived too late to two others. And if you listen to anyone else the sky is falling, varroa is killing every striped insect out there, and there's not hope. I just don't buy that notion. It's very easy not to see what you aren't looking for...

If it works for me, great... if it doesn't, I'll go from there... and all I'm out is the money I paid for the bees (5 of my 8 hives were free swarms) and the money I paid for my free choosing on following the basic principles of what Mr. Bush has shared (which was a whopping $0). But the idea of dumping/vaporizing all sorts of chemicals into a hive simply doesn't appeal to me. If I loose a bunch of bees that don't fit that bill... for me, where I'm at, and what I want out of this venture... who cares?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Why do I expect to Mr. Bush to treat his own convictions skeptically?

Because in my world, intellectual honesty demands it. The fact that I have witnessed catastrophic failures (leading to personal tragedies) from folks attempting to emulate the prescription only reinforces my insistence that it is mal-practice to recommend a method without subjecting it to a critical assessment.

I don't expect double blind million dollar studies from a guy who has a free website about bees.
This is a false objection. A repeated measures study (use similar apiaries with a single change in culture (small/natural vs standard foundation) would yield a confident result in one year at n=30, or over 5 years with n<5. One could randomize the location yearly. It is, in the immortal peculiar Briticism of Mike Bispham, "bog simple".
 

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Why do I expect to Mr. Bush to treat his own convictions skeptically?

Because in my world, intellectual honesty demands it. The fact that I have witnessed catastrophic failures (leading to personal tragedies) from folks attempting to emulate the prescription only reinforces my insistence that it is mal-practice to recommend a method without subjecting it to a critical assessment.
Describe the catastrophic failure, please.
 

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Describe the catastrophic failure, please.
Why do I expect to Mr. Bush to treat his own convictions skeptically?

Because in my world, intellectual honesty demands it. The fact that I have witnessed catastrophic failures (leading to personal tragedies) from folks attempting to emulate the prescription only reinforces my insistence that it is mal-practice to recommend a method without subjecting it to a critical assessment.



This is a false objection. A repeated measures study (use similar apiaries with a single change in culture (small/natural vs standard foundation) would yield a confident result in one year at n=30, or over 5 years with n<5. One could randomize the location yearly. It is, in the immortal peculiar Briticism of Mike Bispham, "bog simple".
JWC, How, and why are you the appointed guardian of these people with catastrophic failures? Why do we never see these catastrophic reports posted here on Bee Source?
 

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I find it very strange that all these "catastrophic failures" while using my methods are reported to JWC and not to me and not on public forums... Also, though, I find it interesting since beekeepers all over the world have been reporting "catastrophic failures" while using the mainstream "recommended" methods, that JWC targets my methods as the cause.... Where is the empirical data to show there are any more or less failures?
 

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The yellow counties in NY probably are that way because those counties are where Apiary Inspectors worked checking migratory hives. The absence of any color on the other counties can not reliably be taken to mean the absence of varroa mites, but the absence of anyone looking more likely.

I am willing to bet that there are no counties, or even Townships, in NY State where bees are kept where varroa mites can't be found. W/in the Adirondack Park, w/in the Blue Line as we say in NY, almost no bees are kept, so no varroa. But, even w/in the Blue Line, where there are bees there will be varroa mites.

Speaking as one who experienced the spread of varroa mites, from when there were none in some parts of the Sate until there were no places where they could not be found. Seems like that took about 5 years.
 

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The yellow counties in NY probably are that way because those counties are where Apiary Inspectors worked checking migratory hives. The absence of any color on the other counties can not reliably be taken to mean the absence of varroa mites, but the absence of anyone looking more likely.

I am willing to bet that there are no counties, or even Townships, in NY State where bees are kept where varroa mites can't be found. W/in the Adirondack Park, w/in the Blue Line as we say in NY, almost no bees are kept, so no varroa. But, even w/in the Blue Line, where there are bees there will be varroa mites.

Speaking as one who experienced the spread of varroa mites, from when there were none in some parts of the Sate until there were no places where they could not be found. Seems like that took about 5 years.
It seems so unlikely that any of these maps are reliably accurate. It seems the most honest would be the that's painted purple as "determined by concensus". The rest of the shades are probably different shades of denial.
 

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You apparently think I have a lot of spare time.
Kind of funny coming from a fellow with 45K posts here....and I bet if I checked some of the other beekeeping boards I'd find similar numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
JWChesnut
1. How many hives do you have?
2. Are they healthy and happy?
3. Do you treat your hives?
CtyAcres,
I have been keeping bees continuously since 1973, save for two years starting in 1990 when the hives died off in the initial wave of Varroa.
I apprenticed at beekeeping with Appalachian hillbillies, and under the tutelage of university professors who themselves were von Frisch's direct students.

My beekeeping model involves a core breeding population and the sale of started hives to hobbyists and commercially. I find the dollar return on complete hives to be far better than nucs, and allows a fall bulk sale to the almond commercials. My geographic situation likely makes this model uniquely suited and difficult to transfer. Honey is largely a by-product, in our summer drought, we are never going to compete with well-watered honey production. Hive value is in the "count" and when a hive expands to support a split it is divided.

I keep about 64 overwintered mother hives, and the summer expansion is variable depending on the vagaries of our periodic droughts. Total expansion will be about 40 hives (10 pallets) this year (not counting 8 frame medium sales already made to hobbyists). The hives are scattered at outyards, no more than 4 pallets or 16 hives at any one location. Nucs will temporarily double or triple this number.

My treatment regime has varied enormously. I have maintained a formal treatment-free test apiary since my return from Costa Rica in 2002 (where I was engaged in Bees). In the 90's some hive went untreated but in a mixed within an out-yard format. I have 2-3 years experience with Apistan in the mid-2000's, never used the off-label Taktic that supplanted it here commercially. I have used the fumigants (Formic, Thymol) and OA dribble and vapor. This past year I used OAV August-October, OA dribble in November-December, and MAQs on a symtomatic subset in May.

The TF test apiary is stocked (over the years) with Glenn's VSH queens, and local feral swarms and promising splits from the other yards. For the past few years it has been 100% captured swarms collected from promising isolated wilderness traps.

Are they happy, well yes. Healthy: the hives which are mite-reduced are free of DWV and Crawlers. I lost one young hive to starvation this week. Ill-health expresses in the fall in my hives (general, irreversible decline), EFB, and other maladies (chalkbrood shows up infrequently). Hives may struggle on to the next year, but fail to thrive.

My TF prescription would likely begin: Keep the hives under 18 months of age, constantly requeen and rebuild. The old idea of the 3-5 year old hive is un-obtainable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The yellow counties in NY probably are that way because those counties are where Apiary Inspectors worked checking migratory hives. The absence of any color on the other counties can not reliably be taken to mean the absence of varroa mites, but the absence of anyone looking more likely.
Absolutely, white means "no survey". The green color (I used arrows to draw attention) are the negative survey findings -- someone looked at some number of hives and failed to locate mites. How extensive the survey for the negative result is i= hidden in the base data for the map. The green concentrations (ND, SD, KS) are the interesting ones. Note that TN and WVA has both a "purple" consensus statewide result, and a "green" result for some few counties. Its possible that like Gypsy Moth, there have been waves of Varroa concentration over time.

The HI results are reliable, Varroa spread from one side of the Big Island to the Kona side after establishing in Oahu. Kauai and Maui remain Varroa free in my understanding.
 

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The initial post makes for an interesting hypothesis even if rather vaguely supported by largely incomplete data. M. Bush's TF success on the other hand is fact. Either that or he is an extremely competent crook in which case he would make a much better living on Wall Street (or any other financial centre) than farming.

What I fail to understand is why Nehawka, Nebraska and other successful TF apiaries aren't overrun by scientists trying to prove the reasons for their success. I don't see why M.Bush should be the one to have to provide scientific validation for the techniques he uses.

From my point of view, I will try to emulate M. Bush's TF success but should I fail I wouldn't dream of asking him for an explanation. At most, I might humbly beg him to analyse my work to look for any mistakes I might have made.
 

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Its possible that like Gypsy Moth, there have been waves of Varroa concentration over time.
I am not familiar w/ Gypsy Moth infestation as much as I am Varroa mite. Please tell me what you mean by "waves of Varroa concentration over time"? How would you describe waves of concentration?
 
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