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Hope your season close-out efforts are going well. You all had a good Fall flow down there?
Would not call it good. AFAIK this area of Georgia never has a strong fall flow. Got rain recently so there is at least some flow and the bees seem happy. Was in two hives this weekend and noted lots of stores, both green syrup and honey.
 

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Thanks, AR1. The current three year experiment is without any treatments of any kind, either mechanical or chemical. I am not dogmatic about this, just decided to start with simple first and see what develops.
That's what I thought, just wanted to verify.
4 of my hives now have shop towels with oxalic. That's a first for me but I have tried Apivar a few times. Currently 4 hives with towels and 4 without.

Next week I will do some deep diving to see what there is to see.
 

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As usual, good stuff!

2. There does not appear to be a linear correlation between time and number of mite drops
one of the reasons it has fallen by the wayside as a method, daily count can swing up or down by a factor of 2
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http://scientificbeekeeping.com/tag/alcohol-wash/
Amazingly, #1910 still shows no outward signs of mite stress and these evaluations underscore for me the complex interaction between tolerance and resistance.
Arguably #1910 exhibits both the highest percentage of mite damage and the most significant damage on the mites themselves but they continue to have high mite drops two evaluations in a row.
perhaps
2nd issue with NMF is you have to compare apples to apples... same pop size, same amount of brood, etc. it doesn't give you a % witch makes hive to hive comparison
3rd issue is it measures mites on the floor, not mites on the bees. #1910 as an example. They are biters, the grooming may be knocking off a high number of undamaged mites giving you more on the sticky board and less on the bees compared to the other hives, so there mite load could be lower as the mites may be ending up on the board

Your doing a lot of work to record you data. I would offer the suggestion to collect better data, a shake or wash.. wash prefered, but I get why some don't like it.
it would be particularly interesting to know the wash numbers of #1910 as that would tell you weather or not they indeed have tolerance (living with a high mite load) or resistance (keeping the mite load down). That knowledge will help you with breeding choices
 

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Discussion Starter #1,584
Got rain recently so there is at least some flow and the bees seem happy. Was in two hives this weekend and noted lots of stores, both green syrup and honey.
Glad to hear it, William. Best of success to you in getting your hives set-up for Winter.
 

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Currently 4 hives with towels and 4 without.
Understood. Hopefully you are able to derive a reliable method in the future to determine which colonies need a little help and which don't so you can see how your lines do in the absence of treatment. Best of luck to you in getting things closed-out.
 

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Your doing a lot of work to record you data. I would offer the suggestion to collect better data, a shake or wash.. wash prefered, but I get why some don't like it.
it would be particularly interesting to know the wash numbers of #1910 as that would tell you weather or not they indeed have tolerance (living with a high mite load) or resistance (keeping the mite load down). That knowledge will help you with breeding choices
MSL:

Thank you for your detailed and helpful feedback. I sincerely appreciate it. I enjoyed the Randy Oliver article, and I was particularly interested to note how his 24-hour mite drop results compared to the alcohol wash- makes intuitive sense to me.

I think you are absolutely right that a wash would be a much better tool for evaluation. I suppose I always figured it would be a more time-intensive method than the mite drop counts, but I am certain that I spend more than the 4 minutes per hive collecting data that Randy suggests he can do a mite wash in.

There is no doubt that the NMF (Natural Mite Fall Method- I had to look that one up) suffers from the huge limitation of not telling you anything about the hive population and thus does not directly tell you anything about the infestation rate.

That said, I do hold out hope that over time it may represent an analog that serves as a first-pass evaluation tool that likely should be augmented with a corresponding wash on promising colonies- because as you rightly point out I am only left to hope and speculate about #1910 with no other baseline information to compare against.

Thanks again for the input- I appreciate it.

Rus
 

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In this way I see so many parallels between guitar playing and beekeeping. After almost 30 years at it, there are still many days that I am tempted to throw my flattop against the wall in disgust- and then I will learn a new skill or overcome a long-held hurdle and it makes all the investment worth it.

I expect it won't be any time at all, and you will be playing every bit as well as Roy Clark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxDQQDF6j0Y
I have almost 40 in guitar and I've yet to run into anyone who doesn't want to burn their stuff occasionally. From the start I've been amazed that something you practice and absolutely cannot get will often be possible a week later, when the only thing you've done is sleep.

Here's a preview clip we do before the streaming service at church a while back. https://www.instagram.com/p/BqN0kG7Fwfh/ (shameless plug)

I had a friend who was ripped like an Olympian. He said his childhood friends would ask what the best exercise routine was for this or that. He always answered something you really enjoy doing 3 times a week, doesn't matter what. That will yield results. If you don't like it, you won't do it. With guitar, 5 minutes a few set days a week will do more good than 8 hours straight once a month. Grandpa (who taught choirs to read shape notes decades ago) said, "Your talent is your want to." Roy Clark is a loftier goal than I ever set, but you can be good, and 60 years will not stop you. Record yourself and record again in 4-5 months. You and everyone else will be amazed with your progress! :D

As for bees, I enjoy them, but still kill them frequently. I hope you are right Litsinger, and some discipline starts translating.
 

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Joe
I have recorded myself on the computer and all I can say is halting and choppy.

Just a suggestion. You might consider putting you location where people can see it, not that I am good enough at geography that it always helps me. With bee discussions and weather, it is pretty helpful to know the where. I looked at your short video and your fingers seem fast and true to me.
Cheers
gww
 

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Thanks GWW, I was just throwing in my 2 cents on keeping the location in the new site format on here a few days ago. Didn't realize I had left it out. I'm an hour North of Chattanooga TN, 2nd range of what we call mountains. Elevation 1800-1900', so temps are about 5 degrees cooler than the city or surrounding valleys all year.

Keep at the guitar. If you don't give up, it will. :)
 

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Grandpa (who taught choirs to read shape notes decades ago) said, "Your talent is your want to."
Joe:

Great post- your grandpa sounds like he was quite a wise soul, and I find shape note music very beguiling. One of my favorites:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5Pa3jFTQLM

As for bees, I enjoy them, but still kill them frequently. I hope you are right Litsinger, and some discipline starts translating.
This is where I see such a parallel between beekeeping and playing a musical instrument- while I am progressively becoming better at the guitar each passing year (albeit agonizingly slowly), I am making some progress... and I still play bad notes and still kill bees in the process.

Also- I do both primarily for my enjoyment and the satisfaction I gain from participating in the fellowship of those who share in the craft.

So when it is all said and done, the final measure of success for me is, 'am I having fun, and is what I am doing contributing in a meaningful way to those around me?'

Glad you chimed-in. Please feel welcome to comment anytime.

Russ
 

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Russ
, and is what I am doing contributing in a meaningful way to those around me?'
I so agree and this is why I quit playing when people get around me. It has to be some sorta meaningful contribution to not put them through my practices.
Cheers
gww
 

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I so agree and this is why I quit playing when people get around me.
GWW:

At various points in my life (and even now) I have alternately been both the best and the worst musician playing in a group of folks. In these settings I have observed two things:

1. I can normally learn something from everyone, no matter their skill level. We all have inherent skills and approaches to playing and even the novice can often teach something to an expert.

2. If you know your place, you can easily fit in and contribute. It may only be playing a few rhythm chords or singing some harmony in the choruses but the result is still better than you not jumping in.

Finally, I bet your grandkids think you are a musical genius- and if nothing else, your time sharing with them the joy of music will be something that sticks with them the rest of their lives.

Best of success to you in your continued musical development.

Russ
 

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Late this week I completed the last in-hive inspection of all colonies for the season- and the overarching result of the evaluations is that I can now confidently declare that I am no beekeeper.

In summary, all the overwintered colonies have sufficient but not excess stores. The new swarm starts are largely short on stores and I will have to do some soul-searching to decide whether to provide any supplemental feeding as the only nectar source left around here is the frost aster.

The lowlights

1. While away on vacation last week we experienced two nights with lows near 40 degrees F. This was enough to finish-off colonies 2014 and 2016, which were found empty and picked-clean when I returned home.

2. I elected not to feed any colonies this year and I may come to thoroughly regret this decision early in the new year. All the swarm starts drew out at least one full 8-frame Illinois box and some drew out near two boxes- but none have more than one box of surplus nectar currently at their disposal.

3. I harvested zero surplus nectar off any of the overwintered colonies. This is the second year in which I have observed significant nectar in the colonies following the Spring flow only to find them exhausted at the end of the season (fool me once…). I am considering two changes for next year:

a. Close-off all upper entrances early in the season once foraging begins in earnest.
b. Pull surplus nectar at the end of June like everyone else around me does.

4. I inadvertently dumped the queen from 1910 on the ground while consolidating the colony and did not know it until 24 hours later when I found her on the ground surrounded by a retinue. I picked her up and put her back in the colony- we’ll see…

5. Several colonies had ant colonies established in the top insulation. A reminder that I need to remove the insulation in the Spring and not reinstall it until cool weather commences.

The highlights

1. While the seven overwintered Langstroth colonies afforded me no surplus nectar, they did produce approximately 60 drawn foundationless frames- which I found clean and largely empty. I have removed these for use in the Spring.

2. I installed a Broodminder ‘Citizen Science Kit’ on Colony 2011. My intention is to use one ten-frame Langstroth colony as a ‘benchmark’ in succeeding years to give me some real-time representative indications of hive dynamics and flows.

3. Otherwise the bee populations look good in all the colonies and there were no obvious signs of disease or wax moth / SHB predation (save 2014 and 2016 of course).

Curiosities

1. While I did not pull out every frame in every box, I did not find any brood (open or sealed). I do not have enough experience to interpret whether this is typical for this time of year but I would have expected to have found at least some capped brood at this point.

2. I have observed quite a few drones still on the wing and dutifully returning to several hives, even those which are currently light on stores.

3. The only overwintered colony that had any surplus nectar was 1911 (subsequently shared with 2005)- and this is the only colony that had their late season broodnest in the bottom of the stack. All other Langstroth colonies have the loose cluster in the top two boxes nearest the upper entrance and all stores and bee bread are located in these two boxes. Any other boxes with drawn comb below were empty without fail.

Winter Goals

This has been a year of challenging many of my preconceptions and assumptions about how to successfully manage honeybees in a treatment-free regime in my location. More than anything it has reinforced how little I really know about the dynamics of a typical colony and the mechanisms that confer success year-over-year.

Further I have again been disappointedly reminded how the management decisions we make (or lack thereof) throughout the year impact both the immediate results (i.e. surplus gathering) and the prospects going forward (i.e. viable overwintered colonies).

Not only do I need to make better and timelier management decisions, I no doubt need to spend more time in the colonies which is likely an impossibility with my other ‘non-bee’ responsibilities.

Thus, before this week’s review I was working under the assumption of gathering significant surplus this Fall, shooting for 70% survival this Winter and preparing to have the capacity to be at approximately 40 colonies at the close of next year.

Now I am thinking I need to go back to ‘Beekeeping 101’ and learn how to successfully manage what I have before I even consider adding any more on top.

Likely the only decision left for me this year is whether to feed the colonies that are currently light- I am presently inclined to let them fend for themselves and see what’s left come Spring.

2014.jpg 2016.jpg 2005 Ants.jpg 2011 Ants.jpg 2011 Scale Table.jpg
 

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Russ, at least you set out with goals, that is admirable.

I have nothing to add on getting hives through the winter. I just moved a couple of 3-4 frame nucs into Lyson 6-frames today. Hoping I can feed and the extra R-value might get them to either finish drawing some frames (by enabling higher in-hive temps for another week or two) or at least pack the 5 frames I left them.

I too was gone for a week and came back to some surprises. One Italian queen has been moved around as an egg laying machine/brood donor and she apparently went on strike for almost 3 weeks. There were about 50-60 eggs, no larvae and 20-30 capped brood. So far she seems to know what she's doing so maybe it's a natural brood break instinct or reaction to cool nights.

Seeing your footer made me go back to Eccl 11 and read. Invest in a lot of things, keep planting regardless of how it looks (wind, clouds) and you may receive a return. Enjoy yourself, but be conscious of how you live. I think you are doing that.

That's for the continuing saga. Hopefully we will learn how to keep bees.
 

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Russ
Now I am thinking I need to go back to ‘Beekeeping 101’ and learn how to successfully manage what I have before I even consider adding any more on top.

Likely the only decision left for me this year is whether to feed the colonies that are currently light- I am presently inclined to let them fend for themselves and see what’s left come Spring.
Books help but I still lose a lot in the translation.

Feeding, your decision as long as you know the risk and are willing to accept it. Everything is a learning experience in mind with mostly the goal of getting better from any tuition I have payed. I am too much of a hermit to ever become a teacher if I ever do get smart but at least I might enjoy some learning before I go. You actually communicate great and your future is bright no matter what you end up doing and learning from it. Wrong or not, I sorta push to the point of cruelty with my bees so I can really have an ideal of what is bottom so I might know what to work up from some day if I ever decide to. Others have already did that and wrote about it and so there are options to not repeat mistakes as often but either way is not wrong in my mind. As an experiment, you might feed one or two of your worst ones just to compare to the others. Just a suggestion.
Cheers
gww
 

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Seeing your footer made me go back to Eccl 11 and read. Invest in a lot of things, keep planting regardless of how it looks (wind, clouds) and you may receive a return. Enjoy yourself, but be conscious of how you live. I think you are doing that.
Joe:

Thank you for your feedback- I sincerely appreciate it. I am curious to hear about your experiences with the Lyson hive bodies. I am intrigued by them, but have hesitated trying one due to how the ants and other critters around here seem to inevitably tunnel my top insulation until it becomes swiss cheese. Otherwise, I am convinced that the additional R-value certainly does no harm and may in-fact better mimic the inside of a tree cavity. I do hope you will keep us posted how they work out for you.

Overwintering is still quite a mystery to me as well, particularly considering what the internal mechanics are that guide an individual colony to rear winter bees of a particular population in the absence of disease relative to their available stores.

One thing I do know, I have had colonies survive on well less than half an 8-frame Illinois super of stores while the colony next door burned through a box-and-a-half.

I've always appreciated the book of Ecclesiastes for two reasons:

1. It reminds me of how fleeting our natural lives here on earth really are.

2. It frames our work in proper perspective in light of how short our span of life is.

I look forward to learning how to be more proficient in beekeeping right alongside you!

Thanks again for your contributions- have a great day.

Russ
 

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As an experiment, you might feed one or two of your worst ones just to compare to the others. Just a suggestion.
GWW:

As always, I appreciate your perspective- you often help me frame things in the proper context.

After considering the situation I am in (and in the spirit of experimentation), I decided to feed only those founder colonies that I was convinced have no chance of survival without my intervention. In my specific situation, I elected to assist the following colonies: 2002, 2005 (nuc), 2010, 2011, 2016 and 2017.

My logic (flawed as it might be) was as follows:

1. Under no circumstances will I supplementally-feed an overwintered colony, particularly when I have not collected any rent from them.

2. Excluding beekeeper error, no Warre 'resource hive' gets any assistance.

With these ground-rules in place, I was left with eleven (11) new Langstroth colony starts from this year, and I elected to feed six (6) of them.

Without fail I discovered that the colonies I had noted as 'Light' during my inspections had some drawn comb in the upper entrance rim but it was either mostly or totally empty.

By contrast, the colonies I had noted as 'Marginal' during my inspections had a significant amount of open and closed nectar in the comb in the upper entrance rim. A good example of this is colony 2013 (photo attached).

Additionally, with the exception of 2002, all the hives that received supplemental feeding are later swarms. I struggled with whether to feed 2002 given that their early swarm date (April 16th) suggests this colony might not have what it takes- but the swarm queen overwintered in colony 1908- so who knows?

Also, I decided to experiment with feeding a 'sugar mush' generally along the lines of the recipe Mr. Bill Gibson with the Perry County Indiana Beekeeper's Association shared in the latest Purdue 'Winter Cluster' presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl9T1gVgwAs&list=PLgavttJPLt2ThxTgeG0Z0du32KQRHto2-&index=4

I mixed 50# of sugar with 10 cups of warm water in a 5-gallon bucket and distributed 3-4 scoops of the 'mush' to each colony atop a piece of tissue paper that is provided between sheets of wax foundation. An example of this is included from the photo of colony 2005 (attached).

I'll continue to monitor these colonies every week or so, and see how they progress in packing this slurry away.

Thanks again for all your help and input- I always appreciate it.

Russ

2013.jpg 2005.jpg
 

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I'll continue to monitor these colonies every week or so, and see how they progress in packing this slurry away.
In hindsight it was way too early to put a non-liquid feed on the light colonies as it set them to diligently hauling it out and also set off some robbing pressure that resulted in me having to close-off the upper entrance to the one nuc (#2005) in my yard. So for now, I will hold-off on any additional feeding until we experience reliably colder weather.

At this point, all 25 colonies have set-up shop at the top of the stack, which is nice from the standpoint of being able to tell at a glance that they are still alive but not so nice for Spring manipulations.

The award for largest cluster goes to #1903 and arguably the runt award goes to #2012.

The early cool and wet weather this Fall has set the clover to growing and it looks like we are still a month away from a killing frost if the extended forecast holds. White Snakeroot and Frost Asters persist but the Goldenrod is played-out.

Even more importantly, the Woolly Bear around here predicts a mild winter, so this settles the Farmer's Almanac's prediction of Winter weather for the Ohio Valley being, '... much warmer than what’s typical, despite some cold periods in early and mid-December, from late December into early January, and in late January.'

Upper Entrance.jpg Clover.jpg Woolly Bear.jpg
 

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In hindsight it was way too early to put a non-liquid feed on the light colonies .....
Just so it happened, I scored 100 pounds of fondant for free (well, for the cost of an hour of apple tree pruning consultation).
Fondant maybe usable as we speak.
I have no experience with fondant yet.
 

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In hindsight it was way too early to put a non-liquid feed on the light colonies
That was my sense of it, but your source seemed solid enuff I decided not to challenge it as I don't do a lot of it

for me anyway, liquid feed for as late in the year as you can, I want feed in the combs we it belongs.

MT camp /sugar blocks/fondant put on later as an insurance policy on lighter hives
 
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