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Agree the whole thing seems a bit odd, a Scientist doing a non scientific experiment. Some data presented, but not all data presented.
Seems another shoe will drop, maybe he is being hired by some company and this is the 1/2 step in that direction.

May be outing the Oliverarez queens, several years ago I did try 6 of the Saz Queens with 6 for 6 loss over wintering.

I would expect more to trickle out.

GG
 

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Now this is a funny thought- undercover swarm trapping. So rather than a robber bee one might be accused of being a 'bee robber'.
I may sound a cynic, but whatever it takes to slow (ideally - to stop) the massive migratory beekeeping - works for me.
In fact, Green Peace should get involved maybe with the migratory beekeepers.
They chase the whalers, might as well chase the bee trucks.
LOL

Absent the migratory bees, the California almond growers very well may convert some of their almond deserts back into native pollinator sanctuaries (which they don't give a hoot at the moment evidently - trying to squeeze the max profit from every single patch of land).
 

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Discussion Starter #1,644 (Edited)
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.
I have found that beekeeping is a lot like guitar playing insofar that proficiency is always just out of reach... not to say that we rank amateurs can't have fun enjoying the craft regardless.

Keep up the effort- I imagine you are already seeing a lot of progress relative to where you were just a couple of months ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #1,645
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
Good post, MSL. I think you make some very valid points, especially in making sure that we continue to let facts and data drive our decision-making. As you often talk about, I am certain that Dr. Seeley (like all of us) can be subject to confirmation bias- in this case possibly assigning too much weight to the OHB VSH trait or in failing to assign any negative attributes to the Arnot bees. As I expect we all appreciate, this is why I think subjecting our results (and opinions based on those results) to the harsh light of constructive criticism is helpful and important- not only does it keep us grounded as to the conclusions we should draw, but it allows the community-at-large to 'compare notes' and find out what might be working or worth experimenting with.

I like you do earnestly hope that Dr. Seeley continues to post updates to this project and we get to see how the Webster bees compare to the Arnot bees. As a suggestion (and this is no joke), I expect we might be able to contact Dr. Seeley and ask him to consider publishing any other relevant variables (i.e. honey production) between the stocks to aid the effort of scientific discovery and the beekeeping industry at-large.

I am still not ready to take a cynical approach towards Dr. Seeley's current endeavors, but I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss his results under the microscope of rational critique.

As always, thank you for being willing to challenge any notions or opinions I might put forth- I think it is helpful and helps us all see the big picture.
 

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Discussion Starter #1,646
Agree the whole thing seems a bit odd, a Scientist doing a non scientific experiment. Some data presented, but not all data presented.
Seems another shoe will drop, maybe he is being hired by some company and this is the 1/2 step in that direction.
GG:

Now this is a sobering thought- I do hope for all of our sakes that this does not prove to be the case.

How is your overwintering effort going thus far? Were you satisfied with what you saw before you closed up shop for the Winter?
 

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Discussion Starter #1,647
Makes sense to just keep a low profile - if everyone turns into a swarm trappers, there will be no swarm losers to supply the trappers!
GregV:

Now this is funny... Thankfully in my area it appears there are more swarms than trappers at present- but that could always change.
 

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GG:



How is your overwintering effort going thus far? Were you satisfied with what you saw before you closed up shop for the Winter?
behind as usual, :) have 7 mouse guards and wraps to do this week, at one yard, then, then 9 more wraps next week , at a second. then ready for snow I guess. Added in 2 queens each, from 2 different sources for a winter experiment. Have 10 of my own F1 survivor daughters open mated in 3 different Apiaries, so hoping something survives to play with in the spring. Hauled in 1 of 3 loads of pine to use this winter, on build of 20 supers, and 4-6 prototype, double wall hives and my first "wall " hive to try out for next year. All this bee work is starting to cut into my drinking and gambleing time...:)

Somewhat decent crop 25 or so cases of quarts or pints.
looking forward to next year, could get busy .
If the insulated hive thingy works out I want to convert to it, so 20 or so to make next winter.
overall happy with the bees going into winter. Every deep comb and all but 6 medium comb are deployed, 2 temp lids and one borrowed bottom board so I am fairy maxed for the gear I have.

Your grant deal sounds sweet, if there were one here it would be nice.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #1,649
Added in 2 queens each, from 2 different sources for a winter experiment.
You've definitely piqued my interest- if you don't mind me asking, did you bring in some more Primorsky stock?[/QUOTE]

All this bee work is starting to cut into my drinking and gambleing time...:)
This is funny- so I suppose the bees can be credited for keeping you out of trouble?

overall happy with the bees going into winter. Every deep comb and all but 6 medium comb are deployed, 2 temp lids and one borrowed bottom board so I am fairy maxed for the gear I have.
I am truly glad to hear this- so overall it sounds like you feel better about your TF prospects now than you did this time last year?
 

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I am still not ready to take a cynical approach towards Dr. Seeley's current endeavors, but I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss his results under the microscope of rational critique
I don't think I am being cynical ( Maybe confirmation bias 🤣)
If I was being cynical I would say he couldn't get it published in a peer reviewed journal so he sold it to BC... 🗯


I think Seeley is just writing to the target market... Feral=good, Treatments=bad, Catch swarms=good, California package queens(big ag)=bad ... that kind of thing sells well with them...
Bee Culture is basically a magazine of hobby and backyard beekeepers who have an environmental perspective, they are 55 years old, they read the mother earth news in 1975, the kids are gone, they sold the SUV, and now they want to extend saving the world and in this particular case its honey bees

Those aren't my words, thats Jerry Hayes, Editor Bee Culture Magazine


Honestly I wouldn't have blinked at anything if he had called the bees what I feel they were... standard commercial italian bees...
 

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Discussion Starter #1,651
Those aren't my words, thats Jerry Hayes, Editor Bee Culture Magazine
MSL:

Funny you bring up Jerry Hayes and Bee Culture (I enjoyed the podcast BTW)…

In the October issue, there is an article entitled, ‘Varroa Resistance – Is it Really Possible’?

https://www.beeculture.com/varroa-resistance/

The author (Mr. Terry Combs) briefly relates his experience over the past 24 years of a treatment-free beekeeping- and affirms a long-term association with Mr. Jerry Hayes based on mutual respect despite a sincere difference of opinions about the ‘…feasibility of breeding honey bees for resistance to Varroa.’

After researching Mr. Combs, I found that he published a significant three-part series on treatment-free beekeeping last year in the American Bee Journal that is in my opinion well-worth reading and considering. I will plan on posting each of the articles in subsequent posts with accompanying thoughts.

From the article in question we learn that Mr. Combs is of the opinion that there is now enough data available to make an unequivocal assessment about the viability of breeding for resistance. He quotes O.W. Park (c. 1935) who declared (regarding AFB) that, “…claims regarding resistance have recurred so persistently that they can no longer be ignored. Either there is truth in these claims or there is not. The matter is too vitally important to the beekeeping industry to permit a continuation of the present status of uncertainty.”

Mr. Combs suggests that the data is clear (based on both his own experience and the current research) that resistance breeding is both viable and resilient.

He remarks, ‘2020 marks 24 years of maternal line survivorship without chemicals or foreign replacement queens. I cannot agree with those saying this can’t be done.’

He goes on to say, ‘Yearly colony losses have gone from 83% in 1996 to less than 5% in the past few years, with 3 of the last 5 years having no losses. Bees showing DWV damage have also become a thing of the past in my apiary since spiking about 15 years ago.’

I’ll hold on commenting regarding his process and selection approach for a subsequent article, but it can generally be captured in his sentiment that, ‘To date there is no one universal resistance mechanism used by bees which resist/tolerate/survive with Varroa. Thus the reason that bees bred for only one enhanced trait/behavior/mechanism have not completely solved the Varroa problem. The utilization of different mechanisms in different locations is part of the reason why queens/bees reared in foreign locales do not solve the Varroa problem in a different environment even if showing resistance in their original locale.’
 

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I got a PM from Russ that the article was in ABJ not BC!!!:mad:
My bad !! when I make a mistake, let me know!!!!

form the combs article
s. A recent research paper from Seeley et al. lends support to my thoughts:“if a closed population of honey bee colonies is allowed to live naturally, it will develop a balanced relationship with its agents of disease.”
Sadly that's wishful thinking.. it could happen.. but plenty of species have not developed a balanced relationship and have gone extinct when challenged by a human introduced pest.

I am only aware of 2 cases were this has been fully tested with honey bees (closed population) in both cases resticance was not the out come

The Island of Fernando de Noronha off the coast off Brazil ( 10 square miles) were the managed Italian population survives do to the lack of a virulent DWV strain .The hives die form varroa virus if moved off the island and not treated... so no balance/genetic resistance has been achieved and
And Santa Cruz Island off the coast of CA (96 square miles) were they caught 85 bees, put a single mite on each and released them... in a few short years the islands feral population of bees was gone, no balance was achieved

From the article in question we learn that Mr. Combs is of the opinion that there is now enough data available to make an unequivocal assessment about the viability of breeding for resistance. He quotes O.W. Park (c. 1935) who declared (regarding AFB) that, “…claims regarding resistance have recurred so persistently that they can no longer be ignored. Either there is truth in these claims or there is not. The matter is too vitally important to the beekeeping industry to permit a continuation of the present status of uncertainty.”
Yet were are those AFB resistant bees now? Why didn't they go mainstream, why did it take a breeding program to create an maintain them.. nature had thousands of years, why did it fail ?

This ability to rapidly co-evolve with Varroa I have seen since dispensing with chemicals and allowing my bees to create their own maternal line. Yearly colony losses have gone from 83% in 1996 to less than 5% in the past few years, with 3 of the last 5 years having no losses.[11]
Any idea what 11 is?
When some one starts posting loses less then the pre mite era.. my ears pick up

I do like terry's stuff
hives simply left to their fate and allowed to collapse, sending out varroa bombs, SHB bombs, herds of wax moths and disease-ridden bees into the area? If so, you are very much mistaken.

And to anyone who calls them self a treatment-free beekeeper and engages in this hands-off approach, don’t think I’m going to justify your neglect and the possibility of you spreading your problems to those around you. You could not be further from the truth, for I don’t even consider you a beekeeper.

Any way the selection success for TM resistance does not seem to have been repeated with VM.
 

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I think Seeley is just writing to the target market... Feral=good, Treatments=bad, Catch swarms=good, California package queens(big ag)=bad ... that kind of thing sells well with them...
Bee Culture is basically a magazine of hobby and backyard beekeepers who have an environmental perspective, they are 55 years old, they read the mother earth news in 1975, the kids are gone, they sold the SUV, and now they want to extend saving the world and in this particular case its honey bees
Describes me quite well. Sold the minivan last year, kids are away at college and pretty much independent, bees are fun but no crisis for me if hives die. I'm a bit older and only occasionally read Mother Earth News. It was too expensive. Aimed, if I recall correctly, at wealthy socialists.
 

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only occasionally read Mother Earth News. It was too expensive.
Hehe...
I get my annual Mother Earth News subscription for free.
A local library gives them to me every December when they get rid of the older magazines (which is totally fine for the Mother Earth - this content does not get too old).
It is a win-win arrangement.
All you do is ask.
:)

I have to say, many (most?) materials in the magazine are rotating around not really sustainable ideas (or the real costs and the real efforts and all the particulars are not accounted for).
Also many (most?) contributors in the magazine don't really have the very good idea of the topics they claim to have the expertise in.
Not to mention - I suspect the magazine is really staying afloat due to financing by industry (it is really a product selling booklet targeting a specific crowd).
Hate saying it, but still saying it.

Still like the magazine thou - for some of the ideas to try, some of the experiences told, and nice pictures too.
 

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Discussion Starter #1,655 (Edited)
Sadly that's wishful thinking.. it could happen.. but plenty of species have not developed a balanced relationship and have gone extinct when challenged by a human introduced pest.
...
Any idea what 11 is?
When some one starts posting loses less then the pre mite era.. my ears pick up
MSL:

I don’t dispute any of your feedback- based on both research and anecdotes I’ve read, I think there is a great deal we still not know about the nature of varroa-resistance and I for my part am not ready to suggest it is settled science at this juncture.

While I can’t be certain, I wonder if the reference numbers are included in the print edition of Bee Culture and have been left out of the online version. That said, he does directly address his apiary losses in the American Bee Journal series, so this serves as a good segue.

In the first installment of a three-part series entitled ‘Treatment-Free Beekeeping: A Practical Hands-On Approach’, Mr. Combs largely lays the groundwork to describe the history and lessons-learned that serve as the foundation for his resistance-breeding approach. In this article we learn that:

As of 2018 he has been in beekeeping for over 50 years- he makes this point to underscore that he was significantly engaged in beekeeping in the pre-varroa era.

1996 served as the turning-point for him- he notes, ‘After cleaning out my dead-outs… and being left with no living hives, I ordered two packages, hived three swarms and one cut-out. I decided not to treat for mites and see what happened.’

He suffered 83% losses the first year (i.e. lost 5 of 6 hives). The only survivor was a package of Caucasian bees from Homan Apiaries in Shannon, MS. It is from this single package he has been able to maintain a matriarchal line from to this day.

His losses the first five years (1996 - 2001) averaged 42%.

His losses the last five years (2013 - 2017) averaged 3%.

He notes that most bee literature does not provide a ‘blueprint’ for how to proceed with bee improvement- so he turned to his efforts in breeding delta-tailed guppy for some guidance- while noting that breeding guppies is very different than breeding bees.

While he goes into much further detail in the subsequent articles, his overarching principles for his TF efforts have centered around: ‘setting goals, recordkeeping, evaluation, selection and culling… ’.
 

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Science?
Though there are stuff that may be introduced that could kill the bees, The current facts seem to show that varroa is not the thing. I read the study that showed the unmanaged bees are as dense and have the same or improved life span 10 years after varroa as they were 10 years before varroa. No, I don't know how to find the study with out spending a day or two cause I am no where near as organized as msl.😊

Granted, we may not like to try and manage those bees due to the methods they use to manage varroa on their own. But it seems pretty clear that varroa is not going to exterminate bees as a whole.
Cheers
gww
 

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If we didn't test hives we would have a lot less varroa found?

Granted, we may not like to try and manage those bees due to the methods they use to manage varroa on their own. But it seems pretty clear that varroa is not going to exterminate bees as a whole.
agreed.. beekeepers are in danger, not honeybees as a species... there wild range may shift, but they will still be out there
No, I don't know how to find the study without spending a day or two cause I am no where near as organized as msl
sounds like Seeley EtAl (2017) Life-history traits of wild honey bee colonies living in forests around Ithaca, NY, USA

not organized, its just all in my head

Thanks for the PDF russ.. good stuff..
 

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msl
Good, almost, political satire there on the testing. Yes, I don't test but just love those that do and post their findings. My point was on the extinction but I do find interest in all of it.

You impress me with the memory cause when I read, I get just a gist of what is being talked about if it is written for a 5 year old and then the rest is gone.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter #1,659
... The current facts seem to show that varroa is not the thing.
GWW:

As always, I appreciate your feedback. My point about settled-science is simply that I don't think we can yet assume that varroa resistance would develop universally across a given region assuming we could suddenly make it a closed population- only because we don't collectively know enough to make that assertion definitively.

I agree with you that there have been many examples of relatively closed populations which appear to have developed a stable host-parasite relationship (i.e. Arnot Forest). The question de jour is whether this same relationship would develop everywhere if we allowed Natural Selection to take its course.

For my part, I sincerely hope that the bee populations which are currently allowed to be subjected to Natural Selection are well on their way to a balanced relationship- and I really hope that the bees in my yard represent some progress in this regard ;)...

Thank you again for your input- have a great week.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #1,660
While he goes into much further detail in the subsequent articles, his overarching principles for his TF efforts have centered around: ‘setting goals, recordkeeping, evaluation, selection and culling… ’.
In the second installment of a three-part series entitled ‘Treatment-Free Beekeeping: A Practical Hands-On Approach’, Mr. Combs describes in detail the mechanisms he has utilized to develop a stable TF stock.

He begins with an observation that I expect is intuitive to most of us who are interested in pursuing resistance breeding- 'I soon learned that making increase from those colonies that had the least percentage of infection was the best way to go.'

While I will let anyone who is interested read the details in the article (attached), he offers several general evaluation parameters which are worth mentioning:

‘In my apiary, I select for low varroa mite levels, winter survival, colony maternal longevity, health, and adaptation to local resources and climate. I eliminate any queens from my breeding program when mites rise above 3 to 4/100 bees.’

‘Therefore, my goals now center on fixing what needs to be fixed, before returning to goals like peak honey production and less defensiveness.’

‘For Varroa, there are two times that I consider most critical in Varroa monitoring; the early spring build-up period, and the fall build-up of the bees that will rear the winter bees.’


In part III he addresses his specific evaluation matrix and process- I will post it in a subsequent article.
 

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