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If your going to break and treat or break and trap, you only need 12 days of caging, Notice the 66% mite knock down from the single traping alone
here is Randy Oliver's brake down of the numbers https://youtu.be/IX3Tz5_uaMc?t=2605
 

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Except at the time you start caging you still have all stages of developing brood left in the hive that will be breeding ground for mites, and only 21 days later will you have all brood emerged.
 

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yes, not sure I under stand your point.
 

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I just watched the talk by Ralph Buchler and am similarly interested in the queen cage or the trapping comb approach. It sounds like timing is important- starting a few weeks before the honey harvest. Did you end up ordering the queen cage?
 

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Discussion Starter #27
I just watched the talk by Ralph Buchler and am similarly interested in the queen cage or the trapping comb approach. It sounds like timing is important- starting a few weeks before the honey harvest. Did you end up ordering the queen cage?
No,I never did.
Shipping from Italy was expensive and I tried to drum up interest from local groups to order more units but no interest.
10 pieces at €34.00 plus €30.00 shipping to CT put the price at about $6.50 ea.
Up to 35pc for that shipping rate.No US distributor.
 

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It was interesting how the speaker made it sound such an effective method and he even said that major commercial beekeepers in Italy who run even as many as 1000 hives are using this method. And then the responses in this thread made it sound as if it really hasn’t worked for others. Perplexing. Well I wondered about with the cage is whether the bees would end up gumming it up with wax or propolis. Maybe it wouldn’t be as easy to reopen as it appears in the textbook demonstration. Particularly if you’re leaving it there all the time, which is what Ralph said many beekeepers do.
 

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It was interesting how the speaker made it sound such an effective method and he even said that major commercial beekeepers in Italy who run even as many as 1000 hives are using this method. And then the responses in this thread made it sound as if it really hasn’t worked for others. Perplexing. Well I wondered about with the cage is whether the bees would end up gumming it up with wax or propolis. Maybe it wouldn’t be as easy to reopen as it appears in the textbook demonstration. Particularly if you’re leaving it there all the time, which is what Ralph said many beekeepers do.
So I've seen the Buchler videos and became interested like a few people on this thread. We also never have a natural brood break here in coastal California, so I wanted to try out what would happen if I could have them go broodless during out dry late summer/fall. Sorry I'm reviving an old thread, but no one has answered the OP about the Var-Control cages used in the US.

After initially contacting the company in Italy to inquire about shipping some cages, it was going to be expensive because I only wanted 20 cages. Then I found support from my local beekeeper's club and we finally made an order for about 80-something cages and the cost per cage with shipping was about $4.

I've used the cages a few times now and they've become really useful, not just for brood breaks, but confining the queen in general. The bees do not propolize the cage. You can keep it in the hive just like Ralph said all year long. I've used it in langstroth hives and in top bar hives.

The way I use it is to confine the queen for 21-24 days so all the brood hatches out, even the drone brood if there's a lot of it. I found that the varroa count triples from the day you confine the queen to the day you release her because there's twice as much varroa under the cappings than phoretic at any one time. SO you don't want to do this if your counts are high already. It's not a miracle, just a non chemical way to treat, especially if you then let her lay on a trapping frame and then freeze it as soon as its capped (like the methods that Buchler mentions in his lecture series). Learning this method will come in handy one day when varroa get more resistant to chemicals, or maybe the weather is too hot for Formic Acid and I need to use hopguard instead but need the nice broodless condition for a contact miticide to work better. Once she is released, I treat with Formic acid or hopguard, or oxalic, whatever I think is appropriate. And no, my colonies have not died!

Another way I use them is to re-queen. Say I have a nasty aggressive queen and I want to be able to put a frame of eggs or some grafted queen cups from another gentle hive in. But if I kill the queen and then put them in, the bees might use a larvae from what the aggressive queen just laid before I killed her. And there's no guarantee they will make an emergency cell on the frame I just put in. Not wanting to go in again to an aggressive hive to look for rogue queen cells a week later, I can put the nasty queen in the brood break cage for a week and then remove her and put in the eggs. Then I don't have to come back for a month and know 100% they will requeen with the genetics of my choice. Same amount of visits to the hive, but much quicker and with more efficiency. I know I could also replace her with a caged mated queen, but this is cheaper given the price of queens these days! Also great for those who can't graft cells or just don't want to. Using the cage you can re-queen by inserting a frame of eggs! And you can probably do this with a regular queen cage plugged with a cork, but then the bees can't interact with her like with the brood break cage, so they might already start making some supercedure cells which you'd have to go looking for. The cool thing about the italian cage is that the bees can move in and out freely and continue to spread the pheromone as if she was not confined, so in my opinion it seems like better option since I have a bunch anyways.

Has anyone else used them? If so, have you got any tips and tricks?
 

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Thank you for sharing your experience. I wish I could have tried them, but didn't find a way to order some. I could not even access the Italian website anymore... I you have an option to get some more, I'd be really interested...
 

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Cages for temporary confinement are easily made from regular excluders.

This guy practices queen confinement both in summer and in winter and knows the stuff.
Here is a full video dedicated to the confinement cages - in short (he says) it does not really matter which kind; they all work.
(just look at his gear or turn on the caption auto-translate):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLr0jkiRhM8
 

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If your mite infestation is highly influenced by mites from surrounding colonies then the brood break would not be very effective. I did drone pulling all summer and found only one or two mites till August. Started OA and had fairly low drops but they continued to rise. They finally went back to near zero now that foraging is pretty much shut down here.

I dont think I raised most of the mites I have killed. I dont think many people who are surrounded by ferals and kept bees will be very successful with queen caging as an effective mite control measure. Finding ALL the queens and caging them in individual hives would be quite an undertaking.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
NicoleV,
Thanks for your post. I'm glad that you achieved what I had hoped to do.
With the beginning of the "season" this past year,I had kind off put this to the back of my mind.Maybe I'll give it another shot this winter.
 

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You don't need to find the queen for a brood break.

Will this work for culling and mites?
  1. Have lots of small hives.
  2. Optional: Confine the queen with excluders and waiting.
  3. If its easy, cage the queen, and skip step 3.
  4. Choose 1:
    a. Shake frames the queen could be on through an excluder. Have 1 entrance (on top) with the excluder keeping the queen out.
    b. Have 1 bottom entrance with an excluder. Blow the queen on the ground. Close the hive and add a ramp. Once bees go back in, the queen is under the excluder.
  5. Kill the queen after the broodless period.
  6. Ideally, you're breeding for hygiene, and they don't need a treatment. Otherwise, its a good time to treat.
  7. Combine the hive with other hives. Your queenright hives have too much brood because they're small. They need food from the culled hives.
A similar process could be used to make mating nucs.
 

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Cages for temporary confinement are easily made from regular excluders.

This guy practices queen confinement both in summer and in winter and knows the stuff.
Here is a full video dedicated to the confinement cages - in short (he says) it does not really matter which kind; they all work.
(just look at his gear or turn on the caption auto-translate):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLr0jkiRhM8
Thanks for sharing the video. Even with the auto translate, I couldn't understand exactly what all the different shapes of confinement cage were for. He had a huge variety! Can anyone enlighten me?:scratch:
 

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I agree Frank. I don't think my hives raised all the mites either. They are definitely getting them from robbing out dead hives that are crashing in the area. It is really hard to keep mite levels down where I live because there are so many other beekeepers around, plus add in never having a natural brood break because winter is so mild! We have a long dearth (Jul-Nov) when the bees start robbing like crazy. This coincides with the time that bee colonies are crashing from mites. Mite counts in surviving hives, even the ones that are treated, go up like crazy. Then starting in late Nov-Mar, we have the eucalyptus flow. It's a decent flow, especially if we don't get too much rain so the bees can actually go get the nectar. Robbing generally stops at this point.

This year, I'm going to try doing a brood break in November, right before the eucalyptus and treat to kill all the mites. Hopefully no more hitch hiking mites will come in so the brood break is more effective. Plus all the varroa infested colonies are usually dead and robbed out by Thanksgiving. It's too late to help out any "winter bees," but I'm thinking it might help the spring build up and keeping the drone brood from being infested right off the bat.
 
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