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Thanks, GG. I anticipated this question.

I suppose I continue to operate under the working assumption that maybe some of these colonies are going to express some varroa tolerance- and it does seem there has been some of this popping-up. For example I have not seen any external evidence of DWV in my colonies the last two years.

But the more I read (and observe in my own conditions) the less convinced I am that tolerance is anything you can reliably hang your hat on.

Because in fairness, this prototype colony is not outwardly in trouble in September- there are little to no outward symptoms and the mite drops are always lower in September than they are in June.

But what I am picking-up on (at least with a limited dataset) is that the damage is already done by the September mite drop assessment.
its done when the last bee dies.
What if you had a VSH queen in a NUC ready to go?

GG
 

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... its done when the last bee dies.
What if you had a VSH queen in a NUC ready to go?
Not a bad idea either- I have been trying to have one resource colony around for every two production colonies with the idea that they replace winter dead-outs.

But you might be on to something- go ahead and take the loss in September and at least get some benefit out of the old bees still left in the production colony- with the caveat that winter brood rearing in the nuc probably needs to be wrapped-up or you're running into the problem of a dirty start at the worst possible time.
 

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Not a bad idea either- I have been trying to have one resource colony around for every two production colonies with the idea that they replace winter dead-outs.

But you might be on to something- go ahead and take the loss in September and at least get some benefit out of the old bees still left in the production colony- with the caveat that winter brood rearing in the nuc probably needs to be wrapped-up or you're running into the problem of a dirty start at the worst possible time.
Just offering that there may be other paths to where you want to go
Once the hive is determined to have a dud colony in it, that hive and line is now "fodder" for the Apairy
the suggestion is think,, "Is there any Way you could shift these frames of bees today to better my Apairy?"
Lets say I had a 20 Frame Production hive found to be a dud, Barley started the first super and lots of mites, basically a dead hive walking. your path may vary but I might.
Take the loss, note the loss in the notes as mited out. OA the hive either Drip or vape, If you are strict TF shake the bees in soap water at night , freeze the frames add them a couple at a time to lighter hives. Make as close to mite less as you can. Study your smallest hives,, find 2 smallish NUCs that are light in stores, late swarm, late split or cutout. Maybe only 5 full frames. Newspaper combine it 2 trips 1/2 each time. to get from a 5F to 2 8F adding 11 frames to each. 11th frame is what ever I have, foundation to empty. Set up 2 *8X8 or 2 7X7 (with dummy frame)if the dud hive was weak . Arrange with stores to the top as a normal hive would. Now one was at dead hive walking, and 2 5 frame NUC with queens I want to test. changed to 2 better wintering hives. done with out comb storage issues.
here in Mich, the 5 framer are a bit light and I only get 50-50 to winter, with a lot of care and feeding.
the dead was gone any way, BUT 2 8x8 or 7x7 will have a way better chance at the "stress" commonly known as winter with more bees more stores and more comb height. SO the moment you decide this Queen &^%$#*, what ever your reason , Hot, swarmy, poor queen pattern over run with mite,
Look to redeploy the assets. Cleanse, do not contaminate other hives, the issue,, if you can , add to the ones needing it, move forward. relative of fall combine , which is 2 little become 1 big, with better chance. , Also called equalizing, lots of writing on it. Kinda like horse racing, if a horse breaks a leg warming up, you take those bets and put them on the next best horse. Every thing in your apiary is a chess piece, Don't leave the rook in the corner till your queen is in check. :)

GG
 

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But you might be on to something- go ahead and take the loss in September and at least get some benefit out of the old bees still left in the production colony
I think the question to ask is where is the value? In your environment there is little value in a hive of bees past the flow in June. No summer or fall flows, so that hive is just sitting there consuming resources, producing mites. So the value is not in that massive hive full of bees/mites. It is concentrated in the queen who produced that massive hive in time for the spring flow.

A couple of possibilities:
1 Do as I suggested above and separate the queen into a nuc, leaving the big hive full of bees to wither away. No direct loss since there isn't a flow anyway.
2 Split the heck out of that big hive into nucs and requeen the bunch of them. Anything that survives the winter is a plus, and if they die you have not lost anything since they were expected to die anyway. Might be a good time to buy a few queens, or to force your favorite queen to make a bunch of queen cells.
 

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The problem is, it appears that the trees are thinking the same thing- if I wasn't afraid of bitter cold over the next month, I'd be tempted to do my winter pruning already. The buds are definitely swelling.

I might be more excited than you are to hear how your non-treated colonies fare. Do keep us posted if you don't mind.
I haven't noticed the budding much but other bees in the valleys nearby were bring in fresh pollen the first week of Jan. Like those guys I was uneasy after the temps turned cold and it appeared winter had set in for real. No idea where this will settle out. As for my bees I put on some pollen sub, and even some sugar (though only 2-3 were mildly necessary). I found what I expected, metered responses.

I'm a smidge excited. Here are a few videos of my experiment of queen-only intervention. Feral split frames were from early swarm at my brother's. Apologies in advance for the long post, after I started running down the feral lineage I realized I had shots of most of the process.

April 19, 2019 - hived swarm for my brother from trees behind his house, looked Italian but very defensive (every encounter)

http://instagr.am/p/Bw3A-tBl_SC/
April 25, 2021 - picked up swarm from my brother's hive, moved out of nuc into double deep in 6-8 weeks (also had them babysit some frames of stores, so not all growth was strictly theirs)

http://instagr.am/p/COG94qDF4nO/
July 11, 2021 - pulled split from this feral double deep (with mites) added Russian queen (raised here)

http://instagr.am/p/CRNE2Botl9n/
Dec 3, 2021 - intro of second queen (with 1 frame of bees) from small nuc beside this nuc

http://instagr.am/p/CXCpnsDtwnW/
Jan 12, 2022 - colony as it stands, probably 1/2 frame combined larvae, maybe 200 capped worker cells

http://instagr.am/p/CYrGYzZKpnc/
 

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Nice post, Joe. We still have some of the chestnut stump growth around here too, but they don't ever amount to much- which always surprises me to consider how this inoculum persists with so little host around. Must be analogous to AFB it that regard.
The chestnut blight lives in other species such as oaks, just does not kill anything else (that I am aware of) except American chestnut and the closely related chinquapin. Some estimate that stump sprouts could continue for hundreds of years. And clear cuts can allow sprouts to get large enough to bear nuts before the blight eventually gets them. Wife and I had a fun day about 15 years ago helping gather pollen from trees near the top of Brasstown Bald mountain in north Georgia.
 

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The chestnut blight lives in other species such as oaks, just does not kill anything else (that I am aware of) except American chestnut and the closely related chinquapin. Some estimate that stump sprouts could continue for hundreds of years. And clear cuts can allow sprouts to get large enough to bear nuts before the blight eventually gets them. Wife and I had a fun day about 15 years ago helping gather pollen from trees near the top of Brasstown Bald mountain in north Georgia.
Didn’t know how that worked. Thanks 😊

That sounds like a great day.
 

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chestnut blight is a great example of what happens when something hops hosts and ecosystems .
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,149 ·
Every thing in your apiary is a chess piece, Don't leave the rook in the corner till your queen is in check. :)
I think the question to ask is where is the value?
Guys:

Great discussion. I really appreciate the advice and thought-provoking observations. The other thing I took away from your feedback is that the value of the intervention is very much seasonally-dependent. To borrow GG's analogy, the rook is of much more value to me as a weapon of offense (or threat thereof) early in the game rather than a defensive piece late in the game given it's inherent weakness (i.e. moving orthogonally). So appropriate deployment of resources at the right point in the game (or season in this case) is maybe at least as important as the move itself.

So back to the specific analogy of the broody colony that performs admirably early in the season but is identified as ill-equipped to keep the mite population in-check: it seems plain that the best course of action is to pull the queen immediately once the problem is identified.

Then, depending on one's goals and approach (i.e. honey production, apiary growth, chemical / mechanical interventions, etc.) and thoughts on whether these genetics need to hang around would largely dictate what happens next.

Anything I am missing here? Thanks again for the input.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,150 ·
Here are a few videos of my experiment of queen-only intervention.
Great post, Joe. I enjoyed watching the videos. Does most of your Russian stock tend toward the orange side in regards to coloring? Just curious based on the color of the queen and workers.

I see you are making fullest use of your poly nucs- based on what you are seeing, do you expect that they will be your 'go to' approach in the future?
 

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And clear cuts can allow sprouts to get large enough to bear nuts before the blight eventually gets them.
William:

Thank you for the primer on the blight. Like Joe I was not aware that other trees were hosts. Good information to know. Interesting also to read that when other blight hosts are cleared-out, the trees can make more headway before dying-back. Thanks again.

How is everything faring in your apiary?

chestnut blight is a great example of what happens when something hops hosts and ecosystems.
True enough, MSL. I am often reminded (even in my own woodlot) that every decision I make has some impact. Whether selectively cutting to favor certain tree species, eradicating invasives or even driving my tractor in to haul out firewood, I am leaving my mark upon the environment. It is a good reminder to me to try to minimize my destructive impact and to hopefully make mindful decisions which in some small way help nature restore balance in areas where we have unfortunately contributed to upsetting it.

Haven't heard much about your recent efforts- how are your community bee breeding efforts coming along?
 

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I reached out to over 3k beekeepers in the CSBA, invited them to take part in a simple state wide selection program, they just needed to take monthly mite washes. Guess how many followed threw....
Not a ONE of them!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,153 ·
I reached out to over 3k beekeepers in the CSBA, invited them to take part in a simple state wide selection program, they just needed to take monthly mite washes. Guess how many followed threw....
Not a ONE of them!!
Whew... I missed this comment. That type of feedback doesn't project optimism that community selection programs are going to take off, does it?

Does this change how you are going to approach your selection efforts?
 

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doesn't project optimism that community selection programs are going to take off
This is akin to "community gardens", etc.
I bailed a couple of years ago - hardly anyone wants to do the "community work" but most everyone wants the "free benefits".
Nothing new though.
Should know better.
 

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Yep... I knew better going in, but I was going to take my shot

Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help mom do the dishes." —P.J. O'Rourke

Does this change how you are going to approach your selection efforts
yep... done

I will just go back to doing my own thing
 

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Yep... I knew better going in, but I was going to take my shot





yep... done

I will just go back to doing my own thing
One of humans major problems: We strongly discount the value of future events in relation to the present. Hardwired in? Instincts valuable eons ago detrimental now and going forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,157 ·
Yep... I knew better going in, but I was going to take my shot
As Teddy Roosevelt astutely observed in his 1899 'Strenuous Life' speech:

'Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.'

I applaud you taking the risk and investing the effort, even knowing it carried a high risk of failure. In my humble opinion, your own efforts will be better for it.

He finishes the speech by admonishing us to:

'... therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods.'

And it seems to me this is the message you've been consistently proclaiming. Best of success to you in your breeding effforts- I will look forward to reading about them here on Beesource.
 

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Great post, Joe. I enjoyed watching the videos. Does most of your Russian stock tend toward the orange side in regards to coloring? Just curious based on the color of the queen and workers.

I see you are making fullest use of your poly nucs- based on what you are seeing, do you expect that they will be your 'go to' approach in the future?
Appreciate all the time and effort you pour into keeping this thread lively. :D

And yes, if I'm not breeding for color about half are orange with brown/black tips to the abdomen. Around 10-15% are almost jet black. The rest are tiger striped or veering toward one of the other two types. Just for giggles I grafted from black queens 2-3x. The first experiment was exactly like the others. The next 2 grafts made 40-50% black. Didn't keep up with enough details. Could have just been a coincidence, as we are talking about 25ish coming out of each graft. There is nothing of the yellow color of Italians, not one bit. It's a recognizably different orange. Workers are all over the map. Drones lean toward darker hues.

I'm not sure I'll ever buy another wooden box. I may get a few unassembled for making a few sectional mating nucs. Part of the attraction towards poly is just heat. While checking on my double-decker colonies a few days ago, the ones on top outperformed the bottom as far as jumping into brooding a bit quicker. No surprise there, and even the bottom is pretty toasty compared to wood. If I was pulling lots of honey I would go with wood in the summer just because they are more forgiving swarm-wise (and their other good traits). But managing these 6 over 6 frames buys you a bit of time too, to make decisions on splits and such. I have a few extra deep boxes for spring/summer wiggle room, but I'm digging the polys currently.
 
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