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Yes, I suppose, I should go back to my own "black box" positions since long ago - SMR it is.

SMR is the real deal - the sledge hammer (however imprecise, inefficient, not elegant - but still gets the nail hammered in).
VSH is ... just a minute detail under a microscope - all the while the big picture is NOT even understood yet. Why even bother?

This reminds of the different prospective of low-level trench commanders and high-level army generals.
The low-level commanders will often question the "stupid" orders - because ALL they are aware is the microscopic details in front of them and don't know any better.

Properly, just various bees with reported SMR indications need to be compared and done with (disregarding the reported minutia, be it VSH, leg-biting, whatever).
 

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the stated purpose for including the Olivarez stock in the evaluation was to see whether proven VSH stock was successfully able to control mite population growth relative to other stocks with purported resistance but unknown mechanism(s).
I think Dr. Seeley was attempting to discern how mite population growth (MPG) and survival compared between colonies with high expressions of SMR (i.e. local feral stock and Webster stock) and colonies with high expressions of VSH (i.e. Olivarez stock) .
Ya... feels like he bought standard CA commercial bees, sure they may have a bit of selection for resistance, but most commercial stocks do here is the write up
" We choose our breeder queens based on the hive's performance in honey production, gentleness, brood-rearing viability, and overall ability to overwinter healthy and heavy. In addition, OHB has worked with the "Tech Transfer Team," developed by world-renowned entomologist Marla Spivak, since before its official launch in an effort to identify and maintain desirable traits in our current stock. We've infused the "Minnesota Hygienic" and the "VSH" traits into our Italian stock, in an effort to enhance disease and mite resistance or tolerance. "
big fat pollination hives... mite candy

Nowhere have I seen OHB as a "proven" VSH stock suitable for TF or ANY information of the % of VSH expressed in their production queens..... mean while in seeleys home state Sam comfort is quite successful using VP Queens VSH carnys (and other lines) as the foundation for his stock.... we know TF with VSH works in seeleys area... so his choice of OHB can only be construed as intended to fail, they did just what one would expect a commercial Italian line to do in upstate NY..
Granted OHB has been his standard source for commercial italian queen used for a base line in his work....as to why they went form standard commercial queens to VSH queens in his writing is a bit.......telling

The stated goal was "I decided to attempt treatment-free beekeeping of colonies managed for honey production. To do so, I stopped giving miticide treatments to the colonies that I keep in one of my apiaries and I started keeping detailed records on the fates of these colonies. Now, three years later, I am making an initial report on my progress toward having colonies that grow large, make honey, and survive "
and he goes in to great details on the survival...but honey production, the linch pin in TF, is never mentioned...

and what happened to "darwin " beekeeping in small hives and splitting what lives.. the whole reason behind it was when put in double deeps the AF ferals died of mites so there surival had to come form some thing elce ...
ie Seeley (2007)
The Arnot Forest bees are not inhibiting V. destructor population growth
There are no signs that colonies of Arnot Forest bees, relative to those of New World Carniolan bees, are better at limiting the pop-ulation growth of V. destructor mites.
now maybe the shift form mite drop to sugar shake could very well be changing the results..

Its interesting that he has gone from the AF bees need small hives to survive to them doing just fine in the pictured triple deep broods...

I don't think he designed the experiment with the scientific rigor of a full-blown research project
yep... he is just selling to his base, mostly lazy bush type beekeepers. outside of the peer reviewed study papers, His writings go out of the way to make things sound simple and easy... no sweat beekeeping.

SMR is the real deal - the sledge hammer (however imprecise, inefficient, not elegant - but still gets the nail hammered in).
VSH is ... just a minute detail under a microscope - all the while the big picture is NOT even understood yet. Why even bother?

Properly, just various bees with reported SMR indications need to be compared and done with
.

SMR is scientist for we don't know what is happening.
why bother?
VSH is quantifiable, we know how it works, we know why it works, we know its inheartibul, we know how to test for it, we know it survives outcrossing better then most traits do to be additive.
We also see that many VSH breeders end up being TF and having to farm mites as they are breeding Kefuss back holes.

The main thing is it allows you to select at a higher resolution then a mite wash... doesn't matter for back yard programs, but for real breeding it likly means the traits survive one more out cross
 

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SMR is scientist for we don't know what is happening.
why bother?
Well, in the end a typical answer still is - we don't know why OR how OR if some indication is even true outside of some anecdotal observations OR the indication is long-term repeatable and persistent OR the indication is transferable geographically.

As long as this "something" is happening and I get to benefit, I am happy.
 

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yep... he is just selling to his base, mostly lazy bush type beekeepers. outside of the peer reviewed study papers, His writings go out of the way to make things sound simple and easy... no sweat beekeeping.
MSL:

Hey, I resemble this remark. :D

As usual, you bring up some good points. That said, I humbly disagree with your assessment of Dr. Seeley's intentions. While I think we are free to poke holes in his experimental design or conclusions (indeed this is one of the hallmarks of scientific inquiry), I think it is presumptuous to suggest that he is purposefully 'rabble rousing' in the absence of substantive evidence to corroborate the claim.

True, he has written a few books- but the article in question was written as a chronicle of his own 3-year experiment in TF beekeeping with a bottom-line conclusion that:

"In summary, what I have seen so far in my apiary in Ellis Hollow — where I have ceased treating the colonies with miticides, and where each summer I have rebuilt my colony numbers using swarms caught in bait hives — is that 24-31% of the colonies have died over winter. I have also seen that the colonies that have died over winter are the ones with high mite counts in September. This 24-31% level of winter colony mortality is much higher than what I experienced in the 1970s and 1980s (two decades without Varroa), and it is certainly not ideal. Nevertheless, I will persist with this experiment. I am motivated to do so because I enjoy not dosing the Ellis Hollow colonies with miticides, and because I enjoy catching swarms that, as we shall see next, often produce colonies that are able to control the Varroa mites. So I remain optimistic that eventually most of the colonies in my Ellis Hollow apiary will possess a satisfactory ability to control Varroa."

This sounds an awful lot where a lot of us are and ultimately would like to be- and it's hard to imagine what mercenary advantage he might have in observing:

"We cannot draw sweeping conclusions from this study, for it involved only 20 colonies and it unfolded over just one year. Nevertheless, I think it is useful to summarize its key findings, for they are least suggestive of where a beekeeper who wishes to pursue treatment-free beekeeping should get his or her queens."

i.e. Either catch local feral swarms and raise your own queens or buy from a proven local breeder... sounds like good advice to me.

Again, no disrespect meant- just doing my part to stoke the embers of spirited debate! :cool:
 

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Squarepeg suggested that I chronicle my efforts in treatment-free beekeeping- and after considering it, I thought it might be helpful in the future.
I am following. I want two Layen hives for this reason.
 

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I think it is presumptuous to suggest that he is purposefully 'rabble rousing' in the absence of substantive evidence to corroborate the claim.
not what I am saying, we all fall prey to our comforntain bias...
but running a "TF honey" program and not talking honey is a bit off.
Imagine If he had focused purely on honey yields and said nothing about survival or mite counts... Same red flag
Hey, I resemble this remark.
As did I at one point !! I think greg too.. as I said we all fall prey to our comforntain bias, and many of us have to adapt when thing don't work out as advertised.

The main issue here is this is an entertainment piece, not a peer review paper.. dealing with seeley the writer not seeley the researcher... nothing wrong, you scale you work to your target market

just pointing out that despite his 2019 apimondia keynote on darwining beekeeping he has done a 180 on the need for small colony size as the reason for the AF bees to survive witch is odd as most of the experiments using AF bees in full sized hives led to their death. but in this TF experiment has also abandoned most of the darwinian principles he has laid down.. But that seems to have been a lot of talk on his part and not something he fully tryiled

Well maybe the magazine wanted just wanted something new


we know form Peck that the AF bees do indeed have resistance traits including an average 35% of the mites on a sticky board have been bitten https://www.apimondia.com/en/compon...XzKUYq2w4usQutEpqC7wNGg68lwBSOo2jGtPPPL6-Tiyw,
but only one of the 8 hives in that study lived when placed in full sized equipment

you can see the rest of Peck's stuff here https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstr...llgrad_0058F_11100.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y it had been on lock down till apimondia
One interesting thing in it is in 1975 the AF bees had an average cell size of 5.19mm, 2016 it was 5.22mm, fairly firmly putting to bed the 4.9=natural argument of some gurus


Again, no disrespect meant- just doing my part to stoke the embers of spirited debate!
Witch is why we get along so well!!!
 

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I want two Layen hives for this reason.
Beth, so you know - the Layens hives will not mean you automaticaly can keep your bees treatment-free in them.
Layens <> treatment-free.
 

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msl
I am pretty sure seeley mentioned that he got 1000 lbs of honey off of the hives.
Cheers
gww
 

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Beth, so you know - the Layens hives will not mean you automaticaly can keep your bees treatment-free in them.
Layens <> treatment-free.
Oh, I know. I don't plan to do Layens hives for a good while any way - but if I do eventually get a couple, I would like to see if I can work them as naturally as possible. (And that may not be possible as I'm in the South and varroa is pretty aggressive down here from what I understand.) I just like the hive. 😁 But I may learn something between now and then that completely changes my mind. I like the Cathedral Hives, too. . .but I honestly don't think I'll ever get one.

For right now, I'll be just tickled pink if I can keep the nucs I buy in the Spring alive for a solid year. :)
 

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I am pretty sure seeley mentioned that he got 1000 lbs of honey off of the hives.
"In most years, the colonies in this apiary will produce — despite the removals of bees and brood for various projects — about 1000 pounds of honey"
but he is talking site history at that point and then next paragraph goes into the sites treatments... just pointing out no pounds per overwintered hive data, historically or TF.

SO.. data... 2018
If you think that the 11 overwintered TF hives + 6 caught swarms made 1,000 pounds of honey, massively in excess of the the areas averages.. well don't know what to say...I did just get back from AZ and have some oceanfront property I can sell you cheap
NY usda averages
2016 was 64 a hive
2017 was 52
2018 was 64

I just don't see feral stock run treatment free massively outperforming treated stocks selected for honey production.. does not compute, much less one being used as brood factories
thats 90 pounds a hive... TF

swingin back around...
This sounds an awful lot where a lot of us are and ultimately would like to be
for sure!!! I would like to put out a few swarm traps, and just not have to care any more. Sounds ideal!

The problem is importing bees to cover your losses isn't sustainable.. and swarms are a finite resource
What happens when 3-4 beekeepers in seeleys area try to follow suit... much less 10-15
not enuff to go around....
the scary prospect of a natural resource being depleted and then lost by over harvest.

Swarms here are a fight.. to the point the state swarm hotline is a mess... admins of it changing boundaries to benefit them and their club and or skiming right off the top dispatching them selfs and there friends to collect instead of passing it on to the dispatcher for the club in the area the swarm was found..
ya swam gerrymandering who would have thought.....
 

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Greg
I understand you pointing out him talking about site history and not individual hive. Though that is how I look at my site, by the whole site.

I don't know more than seeley mentioned for himself.
I would say using state average can be miss leading though. Mo averages is 50 lbs per hive but I know member danial D got over two hundred pounds off of a mostly untreated hive with several others making over 100 while my area is giving about ten pounds per hive. Same state but different collection. The very best and the very worst are put together to make a state average based on those who give some kind of report to the state.

If I were not so lazy, I believe I could prove this out by putting a few hives on my dads 12 miles away but much different forage. I won't prove it and could even be wrong but for some reason think there would be a big difference just looking at the differences in the two areas.

I am not saying you are wrong on how you read seeley though it would beg to question why he would mention the thousand lbs historical at all and then not mention a change. Maybe some one should ask if that is what it takes to get anything from what he has reported.

Myself, I found the import of what he said leaving all else out, 30 percent loss yearly over three years. Regardless of study metrics and scientific method used, no treatment and 70 percent life is the interesting part.

Method would not change a simple fact of life as opposed to death from hives managed for honey and not managed for bees. Life is the one fact that is not antidotal, there is either life or death to chose from. From there you could breed from you best producers and make improvement from live bees. Long as the life part is there there is hope.
Cheers
gww
Ps The looking at honey production for whole site. I had my oldest hive give 50 lbs and some of my hives give none for an average of ten lbs for per hive. This is pretty consistent over several years though the one giving the most is not always the same hives every year.
 

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‘Italian VSH’ queens from Olivarez
Hey Russ
Just to be sure (as the printed article doesn't say who) Seeley states they were from Olivarez in the presentation you watched?
 

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The main issue here is this is an entertainment piece, not a peer review paper.. dealing with seeley the writer not seeley the researcher... nothing wrong, you scale you work to your target market
MSL:

First off, I’ll apologize for my delay in reply- I’ve been away from the computer of late.

Secondly, I will endeavor to succinctly respond to your three posts all at once- let’s see how this goes.

For my part, I’d rather prefer to think of Dr. Seeley’s paper as an accurate accounting of his efforts in his own home yard- more of a ‘citizen science’ project not unlike what we are all doing in our own beekeeping efforts. I notice he is now a Professor Emeritus, so maybe he feels more free to write as Tom Seeley the beekeeper rather than Dr. Thomas Seeley the Research Entomologist.

just pointing out that despite his 2019 apimondia keynote on darwining beekeeping he has done a 180 on the need for small colony size as the reason for the AF bees to survive witch is odd as most of the experiments using AF bees in full sized hives led to their death. but in this TF experiment has also abandoned most of the darwinian principles he has laid down.. But that seems to have been a lot of talk on his part and not something he fully tryiled
While I will readily admit that I am neither an expert nor a practitioner of ‘Darwinian Beekeeping’ per se, in a follow-up reply to me, Dr. Seeley appears to still advocate for a two-prong TF approach, specifically:

“Regarding the mechs of Varroa resistance found in wild/feral colonies, I find it helpful to think of them as being of two sorts: good genes (for uncapping and recapping Varroa infested cells, good mite biting behavior, etc) and good lifestyle (small broodnests, frequent swarming, etc.).”

you can see the rest of Peck's stuff
Thank you for posting Dr. Peck’s research and Apimondia presentation. I was unaware of this information, and I appreciated the opportunity to review it. It seems the main take-aways from his dissertation work is:

Arnot Forest bees survive with Varroa by expressing multiple resistance phenotypes at intermediate-high levels.

Bee breeding efforts should be cautious about seeking a single “silver bullet” resistance trait.

The problem is importing bees to cover your losses isn't sustainable.. and swarms are a finite resource
What happens when 3-4 beekeepers in seeleys area try to follow suit... much less 10-15
not enuff to go around....
the scary prospect of a natural resource being depleted and then lost by over harvest.
To be certain, I have honestly never considered what the implications would be if a significant number of beekeepers suddenly adopted Dr. Seeley’s recommendations whole-cloth. It is an interesting thought experiment, and I can see how this would be very disruptive, at least in the short run.

While I don’t presume to know the right answer, I know Dr. Seeley has stated unequivocally and in numerous mediums that he expects there are feral stocks with some level of selection for resistance in all 50 states. Not sure he is able to back that up with hard data as much as anecdotes and interactions with other researchers across the nation.

Hey Russ
Just to be sure (as the printed article doesn't say who) Seeley states they were from Olivarez in the presentation you watched?
That’s correct- this is why I posted a screen-grab from the presentation.

 

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I am following. I want two Layen hives for this reason.
Beth:

Welcome to the humble chronicle of my TF trial-and-error here on Beesource.

For what it is worth, I applaud your efforts to pursue a treatment-free approach in your specific situation.

If I could offer but three bits of advice to you as you begin this journey it would be this:

1. Read and watch everything you can get your hands on about TF beekeeping. The varroa problem is multi-faceted and there are many talented people all over the world who are experimenting with potential solutions to the problem. Knowing that you are getting your bees in the Spring and that you are a research-type like me, you've hopefully got both the time and the inclination to dig-in.

2. Have a plan as to how you intend to approach your TF experiment, knowing you are free to free to modify it as you go. While there are many different 'flavors' of TF beekeeping, one thing seems plain- you can't expect to put random bees in a box of your choice and expect success. Ask me how I know... 😉

3. Failure should be expected, and it is a part of beekeeping (TF or Conventional). While you might be one of the fortunate few who never experiences a set-back in your apiary, you'll probably be like the rest of us and will end-up with a few or several disappointing outcomes. Some might be self-inflicted, but just like any living thing, colonies sometimes fail due to no fault of your own. So don't let failure discourage you, but let it inform you as to what changes you might want to make going forward.

I am glad you stopped-in here. Please feel welcome to provide your thoughts anytime.

Russ
 

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“swam gerrymandering who would have thought.....” no surprise there!
I have been quiet about my trapping proceedings (locally!) - no need to brag. :)
Now this is a funny thought- undercover swarm trapping. So rather than a robber bee one might be accused of being a 'bee robber'.

 

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Method would not change a simple fact of life as opposed to death from hives managed for honey and not managed for bees. Life is the one fact that is not antidotal, there is either life or death to chose from. From there you could breed from you best producers and make improvement from live bees. Long as the life part is there there is hope.
GWW:

This is a good point, and I do appreciate you reminding me of this cold reality. Ultimately, we need bees that survive before we can even begin to select for certain traits (such as honey production).

Seems obvious as I type it, but I for one can be guilty of missing the forest for the trees sometimes.

I sincerely hope all is well with you, your family and your bees- haven't seen a post on your thread in awhile...

Russ
 

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Russ
I sincerely hope all is well with you, your family and your bees- haven't seen a post on your thread in awhile...
Still kind of on an internet hiatus due to still spending all my time trying to learn guitar. Which is harder than a guy might think.

Keep up the good work, I learn quite a bit from your thread.
Cheers
gww
 

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thanks for the info russ.. I was wanting to be sure I am not putting words in peoples mouth..

the stated purpose for including the Olivarez stock in the evaluation was to see whether proven VSH stock was successfully able to control mite population growth relative to other stocks with purported resistance but unknown mechanism(s). He might have avoided the local adaptation concern by sourcing a Northern VSH line.
Thus, I think Dr. Seeley was attempting to discern how mite population growth (MPG) and survival compared between colonies with high expressions of SMR (i.e. local feral stock and Webster stock) and colonies with high expressions of VSH (i.e. Olivarez stock) .
That really does sound what seeley is trying to infer, but its not said out right in the articul..
but my gut said
Ya... feels like he bought standard CA commercial bees, sure they may have a bit of selection for resistance, but most commercial stocks do
So I reached out to a VSH breeders group to see if anyone new what the average VSH expression was on OHB italians
the conscience was that while there is some VSH pedigree, the expression is slight to not existence (compared to non select baseline) and they were quickly culled from their programs

We see the OHBs are neither a "proven" nore do they have a "high expression " of the VSH trait and performed as one would expect, right in line with MPG of most commercial stocks and they died..
It feels like Seeley loaded the deck so the results favored "natural selection" and down play human breeding.... all of a sudden he has started calling them "VSH Italian" when earlier trials he called the same bees Italians.
He took 83% loses with this stock in How Honey Bee Colonies Survive in the Wild: Testing the Importance of Small Nests and Frequent Swarming

We have talked about this recent study Evaluation of Suppressed Mite Reproduction (SMR) Reveals Potential for Varroa Resistance in European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.) an I think its important to note that the out crossed VSH (local mother/ USDA VSH semen, witch would approximate a F-1 VSH production queen) had less mite reproduction then the bonded/survivor Gotland and Avignon bees, or about the same depending on which data set.

The Gotland and Avignon bees have some real draw backs... Low honey production, Hot tempermit, swarmy etc ... that have stopped them from becoming source material
form the linked study
As discussed above, however, so far attempts to bring such honey bees bred from “natural selection” into beekeeping on a wider scale have failed.
Seeley doesn't report ANY negatives on the AF bees, ever... and I find that odd. That's the behavior of salesmen, not scientist

Maby in year 2 we get some data on how they compare with Kirks bees that (presumably) have been selected with honey production as one of the metricks.

All that said... the survival numbers and mite to hive death thresholds apear to be good data.... not much new there but coming from a palatable to TF keepers source and context will hope fully get more aspiring TF keeper to do shakes, take records, and head off mite bombs
 
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