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Wilson, M. W.r, J. Skinnerr, & L. Chadwells –

MEASURING THE EFFECTS OF FOUNDATION ON HONEY BEE COLONIES: A SARE PRODUCER GRANT PROJECT -

Some beekeepers have proposed that 5.4mm foundation alters the biology of honey bees in a way that increases Varroa mite populations (Beesource.com). As a part of the idea, termed ‘natural cell beekeeping’, it is reported that bees build smaller cells when managed without foundation. To test this idea, beehives were managed with starter strips by turning the wedge of a ‘wedge top’ frame on its side and applying a bead of wax.

In 2007, ten colonies were started from splits of natural cell colonies. Five control colonies used standard wax foundation and five natural cell colonies used wooden starter strips. In 2008, these ten colonies were observed another year, while ten new colonies were made from splits. Five control and natural cell colonies were split from their respective groups. The ten group 2007 hives and ten group 2008 hives were allowed to build up to 3 medium boxes. When applicable, honey supers were provided above a queen excluder with drawn comb and foundation.

Mite populations were recorded as 24hr natural mite fall averaged over 3 days. During colonies’ first year, mite levels did not significantly differ. However, during the second year of group 2007 colonies, mite levels were significantly lower in natural cell hives (60 ± 11, mean ± s.e.) than in control hives (114 ± 22; P = 0.0004). Despite these lower numbers, hives in both groups surpassed economic thresholds and experienced colony death.

The reason for the lower mite levels appears unrelated to worker cell size. Control colonies had a worker cell size of 5.3mm ± .004 (mean ± s.e., n = 493) while natural cell colonies had a worker cell size of 5.4mm ± .008 (n = 381, P ? 0.0001). Cells of natural cell colonies did not decrease in size between 2 years (2007) and 3 years (2008) of management without foundation.

The average strength of group 2007 colonies did not significantly differ when measuring the rate of comb building in spring 2007, the hive weight in summer 2007, and the area of bees, brood, pollen and honey in the brood chambers during spring, summer, and fall 2008. However, there was significantly more surplus honey produced by control colonies (25.4 frames ± 3.9, mean ± s.e.) over natural cell colonies (5.4 frames ± 3.5; P = 0.0052).

This difference may be related to the greater amount of drone comb produced by natural cell colonies (33% ± 3.5%, mean ± s.e.) as opposed to control colonies (1% ± 0.2; P ? 0.0001). Plentiful drone production was evident in the second year of group 2007 natural cell colonies, as opposed to controls.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Small-cell comb foundation does not impede Varroa mite population growth in honey bee colonies by Jennifer A. Berry, William B. Owens, Keith S. Delaplane in Apidologie

Abstract – In three independently replicated field studies, we compared biometrics of Varroa mite and honey bee populations in bee colonies housed on one of two brood cell types: small-cell (4.9 mm cell width, walls inclusive) or conventional-cell (5.3). In one of the studies, ending colony bee population was significantly higher in small-cell colonies (14994 bees) than conventional-cell (5653). However, small-cell colonies were significantly higher for mite population in brood (359.7 vs. 134.5), percentage of mite population in brood (49.4 vs. 26.8), and mites per 100 adult bees (5.1 vs. 3.3). With the three remaining ending Varroa population metrics, mean trends for small-cell were unfavorable. We conclude that small-cell comb technology does not impede Varroa population growth.
 

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hello,has anyone looked into the mites natural enemy.I am sure there is one its a matter of finding out were the mite originated.:popcorn:
 

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We know where they originated. Southeast Asia. Where they are tolerated by their original host, the indigenous honeybees of that area. I forget if they are the Greater Honeybee or the Lesser Honeybee. I'm sure Peter knows. On their original host they act more like a normal parasite, by not killing their host. Eventually our bees may develop to where they tolerate varroa also. To paraphrase Steve Taber, "All we have to do is stop using miticides in our beehives for about 30 years and the mites and the bees will work it out." Of course, in the mean time, beekeepers will go out of business. So, what are we to do?

Didn't mean to highjack your Thread Peter. Sorry.
 

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> All in all, the commercial bee population is generally not genetically diverse and not locally adapted. This is in complete contrast to the African honeybee population which is almost totally unselected, and probably as genetically diverse now as it was a thousand years ago. Bailey (1999) and Allsopp (1999) have argued that selective breeding for "quality" by and for beekeepers has decreased the resistance in honeybee populations to a wide range of pathogens. Highly intensive selection has decreased genetic variability and selected against critical "bee tolerance" factors such as swarming and defensiveness (Bailey 1999).

> A more sensible approach would be to: (a) Manage naturally occurring regional strains of honeybee, rather than importing strains from elsewhere. This is particularly important in Europe and Africa where Apis mellifera is indigenous and less so where it is an exotic species. (b) Practise "primitive" beekeeping as is the case in Africa by allowing natural selection processes to determine which are the most significant characteristics for selection and not the beekeepers or bee scientists, at least to some extent. It is also best to use an un-manipulated wild population, and for this population to be as large as possible.

© University of Pretoria

Analysis of Varroa destructor infestation of southern African honeybee populations. Master's Dissertation. Allsopp, Mike Herbert
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In South Africa they have always had small bees and use special small cell foundation. The bees will not accept US sized foundation. When varroa first arrived, they thrived in the colonies with small cells, reaching levels of 50% or 30,000 mites in a large colony. Hundreds of thousands of colonies died.

> In periods of initial exposure to the mite, the "front" of the spread of varroa, mite populations built up extremely rapidly in the honeybee colonies of South Africa, even dramatically. As many as 50 000 mites were found in commercial colonies, and average mite numbers of more than 10 000 per colony were found. This initial surge in mite population growth was accompanied by all the classic symptoms of varroa mite damage (scattered brood pattern; bees with vestigial wings; large amounts of chalkbrood; "disappearing" colonies), and it appeared that the pattern being followed was similar to that witnessed elsewhere. During this initial stage, colony decline and mortality was not unusual, and *entire apiaries were lost* to what was demonstrably varroa damage, to the extent that many commercial beekeepers quickly turned to varroacide treatments to protect their colonies.
 

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Peter, we've already been discussing this foundationless study here:
http://beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=236710

The real problem with virtually all beekeeping studies is that they assume that management techniques are portable...that anything that works in one context will work in another.

Management of a foundationless colony is very different from managing a colony with foundation.

This of course makes direct 1:1 comparisons difficult, but changing one thing often requires changing another. When I drive a truck, I do so largely in the same way I drive a car. If, however, I pull into the gas station and try to fill up with unleaded (as opposed to diesel) things won't work. This would show that everytime I drive a truck, I trash the engine. I have to do more than change the vehicle, I have to change some of the ways I drive and fuel.

From the thread I referenced above:

one (not the only one) of the issues is the expanding broodnest.

if you use foundation (all worker size) throughout a box, near 100% of those cells will be very close to 5.4 (talking lc foundation here).

in a foundationless system, the cluster gets to a certain size, and starts putting drone and honey cells outside the broodnest. this happens before the hive is "full grown".

when the colony grows beyond this size, and increases the size of the broodnest, you now have some drone and honey storage cells in the broodnest. in nature, the colony would tend to choose a smallish cavity to build a nest in, and would swarm.

as beekeepers, we are trying to redirect this swarming impulse into honey production.

when you are working with a growing foundationless colony, you need to help the bees expand the broodnest by moving some of this drone and honey storage comb out, making room for more broodcomb adjacent to the existing broodnest, not outside the drone and honey comb.

this is not an issue if you are using all worker foundation, as the foundation dictates that throughout the box, almost everything is worker cell sized....as the cluster grows and shrinks it stays on almost 100% worker comb.

this has nothing to do with researchers being smart or not...it has to do with experience with acutally working with foundationless colonies. i have no idea what was done in this study, but the management required for foundationless and foundation when growing a colony is really different.

if the foundationless frames were not maniuplated to help build the broodnest, how would one expect the cell size to reduce over the course of the study? without the ability to build new broodcomb in the middle of the broodnest (or let them swarm or shake them down), how is the size of the cell (with coccoons from emerging bees embedded in it) supposed to change size? by magic?

foundation virtually eliminates the bees' ability to make a variety of cell sizes, which changes the entire dynamics of a growing colony and it's relationship to the comb. when you go back to letting the bees do what they do, you have to pay attention to what they are doing, what your goals are, and how to get there.

deknow
 

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In South Africa they have always had small bees and use special small cell foundation. The bees will not accept US sized foundation. When varroa first arrived, they thrived in the colonies with small cells, reaching levels of 50% or 30,000 mites in a large colony. Hundreds of thousands of colonies died.
...During this initial stage, colony decline and mortality was not unusual, and *entire apiaries were lost* to what was demonstrably varroa damage, to the extent that many commercial beekeepers quickly turned to varroacide treatments to protect their colonies.
Peter, when you posted this same thing on bee-l 2 years ago, Ari Seppala responded with:
I talked with Mike Allsopp in Apimondia at Melbourne. He said that he
recommends not to treat for varroa in Africa. When varroa comes there will
be (and has been) losses, but the bees will recover. He did not state any
numbers, but I understood that also commercial beekeepers are using now lesschemical treatments.
 

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foundation virtually eliminates the bees' ability to make a variety of cell sizes,

deknow
Really? Then why do I have so much drone comb in my hives that were started on comb w/ foundation and especially Plasticell or Pierco type frames? How can there be any drone comb on those frames, from what you have stated here?
 

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Really? Then why do I have so much drone comb in my hives that were started on comb w/ foundation and especially Plasticell or Pierco type frames? How can there be any drone comb on those frames, from what you have stated here?
well, there are a few things at work here.

1. the bees try very hard to build drones when they are restricted from doing so.

2. you haven't specified if the drone comb was made when the frames were first drawn out, or if they were first drawn out as worker size and then enlarged?

3. it's much harder for the bees to rework cells that have embedded cocoons than cells that don't. this is why, given the oppurtunity, a queen will go up into the honey supers (with no cocoons) and lay a big patch of drone brood when the broodnest is largely worker sized broodcomb with cocoons.

4. what is "so much drone comb"? what percentage? is it drone comb, or cells built quickly by the bees on a flow (honey storage cells)?

deknow
 

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Discussion Starter #15

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Peter, anyone reading your post in this thread (#9) will see that you selectively paraphrased _and_ selectively quoted to make it seem like the author supports treating for varroa.

and although you are (here on this forum) saying that you support Mike's conclusions (which are essentially that treatment for varroa should not be used), on bee-l this morning you posted:

This lady doesn't let up, does she?

> Today's beekeepers typically don't permit the colony to produce a queen on its own. Instead, every year or two they crush the reigning queen and introduce a queen they have purchased. The new queen has often been shipped across the country, arriving stressed and weakened. More and more, these new queens have been artificially inseminated (using sperm
from decapitated drones) in an effort to build certain desirable traits. Sometimes frozen sperm is used, which studies have shown can be damaged by freezing and thawing.

> What is little understood, aside from the cruelty of the practice itself, is the biological deficits inherent in the process. Colonies producing their own queens respond to local conditions, build natural resilience and benefit from reduced stress.
there is nothing in your post (above) that indicates that you support any of the claims made by the author...yet, you claim to support tony's conclusions with include:

A more sensible approach would be to: (a) Manage naturally occurring regional strains of honeybee, rather than importing strains from elsewhere. This is particularly important in Europe and Africa where Apis mellifera is indigenous and less so where it is an exotic species. (b) Practise "primitive" beekeeping as is the case in Africa by allowing natural selection processes to determine which are the most significant characteristics for selection and not the beekeepers or bee scientists, at least to some extent.
it is difficult to have this kind of discussion (ditto with the sugar water thread). i can't tell if you are having trouble expressing what you are thinking, or if you are constantly changing your position.

by no means do i think it's important to be "right" all the time, but it is important (when having any kind of discussion) to communicate effectively what you are thinking.

deknow
 

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2. you haven't specified if the drone comb was made when the frames were first drawn out, or if they were first drawn out as worker size and then enlarged?

4. what is "so much drone comb"? what percentage? is it drone comb, or cells built quickly by the bees on a flow (honey storage cells)?

deknow
2. i don't know if the cells were first drawn out as worker and then reworked into drone, I have too many boxes of comb to keep up w/ that.

4. Two or three frames per deep w/ patches of drone comb about the size of a good sized grapefruit. I usually put these on the outside so they will be filled w/ honey, after drones have been layed in them.

Is it drone comb? Yes, large bore cells w/ drone pupae in them. Cells visibly larger in size than worker cells.
 

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CIB

What if they just raise drones in burr comb between the boxes like mine do?
Then when you separate the boxes it destroys the drone comb and makes life very unpleasant for varroa mites:applause:
Any other size foundation also creates the same situation.
They always find a way to raise drones. (that's why we still have bees)

Dave
 
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