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How is everything faring in your apiary?
Not as good as last winter. One confirmed dead out a couple of months ago, three more recently I'm sure are gone. Crazy busy year, 10 hour days at work since spring and did not spend nearly as much time with bees as I did in 2020. Really need to update my thread! But it's so much easier to bang out a few sentences in someone else's ;)
 

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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 fond of the black tipped ones and the dark ish ones.
But your right they are all over on color.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,163 ·
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.
This is interesting to me. If I remember correctly, you have brought in a couple of rounds of RHBBA stock right? Do you see the darker bees making more of an appearance the more generations removed you get from the imported stock?

I'm not sure I'll ever buy another wooden box.
Well that is strong praise indeed- have you experienced ant problems in the summer? I know the poly boxes are made of tougher stuff than styrofoam insulation, but the carpenter ants have a field day with the top insulation around here if I leave it on too long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,165 ·
Interesting summary presentation of the EurBeST study this morning. At the end of the formal presentation, Dr. Büchler summarized their results and recommendations as follows:
Summary published in the February 2022 ABJ (attached). The punchline:
Font Document Screenshot Number
 

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This is interesting to me. If I remember correctly, you have brought in a couple of rounds of RHBBA stock right? Do you see the darker bees making more of an appearance the more generations removed you get from the imported stock?

Well that is strong praise indeed- have you experienced ant problems in the summer? I know the poly boxes are made of tougher stuff than styrofoam insulation, but the carpenter ants have a field day with the top insulation around here if I leave it on too long.
I'm still operating on my first round of RHBA imports with the second round paid for and shipment expected mid-May. I haven't really drawn any conclusions on successive generations being darker. I can say that based on the queens I raised, that you are much more likely to raise a dark queen from a dark queen, like several times more likely. But again, sample sizes would have to be at least a few hundred for me to rule out coincidence.

I did see something interesting over last winter. I had a very dark queen in Nov that got much lighter, and one 5-6 nucs away (~5-6yd/m) which darkened up considerably over the winter months.

I had a few thousand ants this week between a blue board and inner cover on a 10-frame wooden box, but haven't really noticed anything in the polys any worse than wood. Ants are usually hold up under the boxes, but I have many of them on some old 6x6" posts. Putting them on more lightweight angle iron or similar would at least for the ants that are mooching to go underground. When I say ants, I mean tiny, tiny ants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,167 ·
I did see something interesting over last winter. I had a very dark queen in Nov that got much lighter, and one 5-6 nucs away (~5-6yd/m) which darkened up considerably over the winter months.
That is interesting- I've never noticed this with queens per se, but I do note that the bees in my apiary tend to be darker through the winter months- makes me wonder if it is a function of the physiological differences between summer and winter bees?

When I say ants, I mean tiny, tiny ants.
We've got those dudes too- everywhere. Including above the inner covers, similar to the situation you described. But they don't ever seem to cause any trouble, only a nuisance. The carpenter ants however tunnel into the Styrofoam top insulation and make an all-out mess. I've always been a bit hesitant to try the poly equipment, primarily on this score. But the more I read about your experience with them, the more tempted I am to give a few a go.
 

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That is interesting- I've never noticed this with queens per se, but I do note that the bees in my apiary tend to be darker through the winter months- makes me wonder if it is a function of the physiological differences between summer and winter bees?



We've got those dudes too- everywhere. Including above the inner covers, similar to the situation you described. But they don't ever seem to cause any trouble, only a nuisance. The carpenter ants however tunnel into the Styrofoam top insulation and make an all-out mess. I've always been a bit hesitant to try the poly equipment, primarily on this score. But the more I read about your experience with them, the more tempted I am to give a few a go.
These are definitely harder, but not so hard a tunneling, determined ant couldn’t wreck them. Takes about $45 for the initial nuc, $20/ea for additional box, and $17 for a customer feeder which sits in the lid to find out. They come unassembled, but the shipping is still more than I like.

I put more of last year’s sensors in 2 hours ago, ahead of this storm/cold snap. It’s 40F and falling and the polys are a toasty 60F on top of the frames. Have a tiny one that only boosts about 10F, but compared to wood, they’re not even trying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,169 ·
I put more of last year’s sensors in 2 hours ago, ahead of this storm/cold snap. It’s 40F and falling and the polys are a toasty 60F on top of the frames. Have a tiny one that only boosts about 10F, but compared to wood, they’re not even trying.
It seems like this is where the polys really shine. May make a big impact with your Russians, particularly those that seem hardwired for small winter clusters.

Your post reminded me to download the temperature data on the reference colony. It is always interesting to me to see the delta begin to widen as the colony commences brood rearing. Thankfully it looks like this colony hasn't gotten too carried away yet...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,170 ·
So after a long and strange pandemic-inspired odyssey that took over a year, I finally got my honey house equipment and bulk woodenware order yesterday.

My general impression of the Lyson equipment is that it is very well-constructed and well-fitted but not heavily built. For example, the extractor is certainly more sophisticated than, but is no comparison to, the old Dadant extractors- at least in terms of material gauges used.

I'd better get busy assembling woodenware- despite the cold spell we're currently experiencing, there are signs of Spring literally starting to pop-up- the jonaquils are already about 2" high.
 

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I finally got my honey house equipment and bulk woodenware order yesterday.
So..... Russ is gone commercial now? :giggle:

Seriously, though, how long have you been at this particular run with zero chems, Russ?
Heck, it seems there were no particular problems expanding the yard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,172 ·
So..... Russ is gone commercial now? :giggle:
Gone crazy is more like it... o_O

I got back into beekeeping the Spring of 2018 after an almost quarter century absence, and I'm not even close to declaring what I am doing is sustainable. Here are the few things I know:

1. I have been able to increase colony counts every year and this has all been done with swarm stock- a limited amount from outside the apiary and the bulk from within. No splits nor artificial queen rearing. This is not sustainable and is an area I need to get a better handle on.

2. This past year marks the first time I took off any surplus to speak of. While swarming and lack of drawn comb factor in, I think it safe to say the stock I am working with is not going to set any records for surplus production, at least not without the application of some selection pressure in this regard.

3. Mite drop levels recorded during the routine seasonal checkpoints appear to be on the rise. This might reflect seasonal variability, or might reflect a change in paradigm relative to higher hive density.

4. Colonies that are managed for production exhibit higher mite loads than those which are allowed to progress along a more 'natural' reproductive life cycle. There will likely need to be a balance struck between Items 2 - 4 that allows for stasis assuming there are no other relevant factors at work that I am not even yet aware of (disease pressure, viral dynamics, etc.).

So I am working with a 40 colony 'pig in a poke'. But I am grateful to still be experimenting with a non-chemical project at present.
 

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So after a long and strange pandemic-inspired odyssey that took over a year, I finally got my honey house equipment and bulk woodenware order yesterday.

My general impression of the Lyson equipment is that it is very well-constructed and well-fitted but not heavily built. For example, the extractor is certainly more sophisticated than, but is no comparison to, the old Dadant extractors- at least in terms of material gauges used.

I'd better get busy assembling woodenware- despite the cold spell we're currently experiencing, there are signs of Spring literally starting to pop-up- the jonaquils are already about 2" high.
winter work
hopefully the shop is heated.
looks like fun

GG
 

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I got back into beekeeping the Spring of 2018
So, this makes it four (4) seasons.
Spring of 2022 should be the season #5 (am pretty darn sure you will be OK).
Off the chems.
Anyone listening?
Certainly, this so-called "luck" is very much possible.
 

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1. I have been able to increase colony counts every year and this has all been done with swarm stock- a limited amount from outside the apiary and the bulk from within. No splits nor artificial queen rearing. This is not sustainable and is an area I need to get a better handle on.
you may be surprised, If 20 hives gets you 5 swarms, the 40 will have 10 etc. Slow growth is better more digestible.

Have you ever done a full inspection where you find capped queen cells? these can be used for increase.

I would keep on doing what is working.
A different yard for hive density is a definite thing to consider.
It needs only to be 2 to 4 milers away.

GG
 

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So, this makes it four (4) seasons.
Spring of 2022 should be the season #5 (am pretty darn sure you will be OK).
Off the chems.
Anyone listening?
Certainly, this so-called "luck" is very much possible.
lets hope the cadence lasts,, be better to evaluate at the 10 year mark.

GG
 

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4. Colonies that are managed for production exhibit higher mite loads than those which are allowed to progress along a more 'natural' reproductive life cycle. There will likely need to be a balance struck between Items 2 - 4 that allows for stasis assuming there are no other relevant factors at work that I am not even yet aware of (disease pressure, viral dynamics, etc.).
Based on my run, I very much see the same:
  • less desirable agriculturally (but hardy) colonies
  • less hardy (but more desirable agriculturally) colonies

Depending how the season 2022 develops (fingers crossed) we'll see how to keep and manage both.
I can see how I want ALL of them at once as a collection.
I have been a collector all my life anyway - started with coins (which I successfully squandered away, including a rear 1700-something coin, a bunch of 1800-something coins, etc).
Looking back hurts. :(
 

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lets hope the cadence lasts,, be better to evaluate at the 10 year mark.

GG
But five (5) years is nothing to sniff at.
People drop out after 1-2 years and make global proclamations based on that routinely. :)
The proclamations either way, to be sure - something IS or is NOT blah, blah....

Five year continuous run is getting out of that random zone.

To be sure it is not spring yet, but for Russ it is only a month away.
No way the next 1-2 months ~40 colonies are going to crash and burn.
Don't think so.
The time to crash and burn for 2021 is pretty much behind.

As far as the 10 year run - well, nothing prevents someone from bringing a Californian almond operation and setting it up next to Russ and severely impacting the local population.
That would probably mark the end of the story.
Can happen this summer, can happen in 2030, can never happen.
There is nothing you can do about random, life changing events in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2,179 ·
@Gray Goose and @GregB:

Thank you both for the feedback and encouragement over the past several years. I've learned a lot from you both, and I think I owe much of my present success to both Providence and the advice I've gotten from you guys and a lot of good folks here on Beesource. In answer to a few of your comments / questions:

hopefully the shop is heated.
It is not, but I've found it makes you work a little faster :).
Have you ever done a full inspection where you find capped queen cells? these can be used for increase.
I do routinely find queen cells but up to this point I have simply noted them and allowed the colonies to swarm as they see fit. One of the goals this year is to experiment with Doolittle Nucs to try to both take advantage of the bee's reproductive impulse and exert more control over the timing (and stay off the ladder as much as possible).
I can see how I want ALL of them at once as a collection.
This is my biggest quandary- I accept that I am unlikely to ever be able to out select Nature- but there are clearly some genetics that are maladapted. It seems reasonable that once these maladapted characteristics are understood and identified, it is prudent to proactively take steps to get them out of the apiary- but what if they have some mechanism(s) (i.e. tolerance) that the better-adapted stock could benefit from?

There is nothing you can do about random, life changing events in the future.
This is so true. As a wise man once said, "... don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

Or as my signature line declares, 'He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.'
 

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This is my biggest quandary- I accept that I am unlikely to ever be able to out select Nature- but there are clearly some genetics that are maladapted. It seems reasonable that once these maladapted characteristics are understood and identified, it is prudent to proactively take steps to get them out of the apiary- but what if they have some mechanism(s) (i.e. tolerance) that the better-adapted stock could benefit from?
Exactly my thoughts too. LOL
This way I tend to keep around the most use-less (in a common agricultural sense) colonies.
Of course, this directly applies to my current VSH mother queen - a POS, useless queen if thought conventionally.
 
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