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Discussion Starter #1
It appears to me that the smaller the hive the better the bees are able to control varroa naturally. Has anybody else observed this? Our observation hive (3 frame) doesn't seem to have trouble with varroa - neither do the Nucs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the answers. The answers raise more questions though. Are younger bees more hygienic or simply more vigorously healthy thus not as affected by a varroa mite sucking lymph?

Why does a large hive have proportionally more brood? Is it because they have to use less bees to control the temperature; have more scouts to find the best resources; have a more specialized distribution of labor; or is there some other reason why bigger is advantagous?
 

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>Are younger bees more hygienic or simply more vigorously healthy thus not as affected by a varroa mite sucking lymph?

I think all bees are effected by the mites.

>Why does a large hive have proportionally more brood?

Because they have the nurse bees to care for it and the field bees to feed it.

>Is it because they have to use less bees to control the temperature;

They probably need more to control the temperature with all the heat from all the bees and all the nectar evaporating.

>have more scouts to find the best resources;

Of course they have that.

>have a more specialized distribution of labor;

I don't know that it's more specialized, but there are more hands (feet?) to pitch in on whatever the current need is.

>or is there some other reason why bigger is advantagous?

There is a certain amount of overhead in heating/cooling/patroling a hive and taking care of a brood nest. It's only the surplus left over, that gathers the harvest during the flow.
 

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I think younger hives have'nt had time yet for mite to build up enough population to cause problems. Let's say I hived a package in May of 2004, last year. Did nothing until now. Now I have a mite problem that I could actually ignore for another 2 years before the hive died from mite related complications.

MB is correct. A strong hive has a lot more brood. Because they can. No hive can raise more brood than they can warm and feed. Stronger hives have more nurses. More foragers. More brood.

Hawk
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok - what is the maximum nurse bee versus brood cell ratio in a big hive versus a small hive? Is there a difference? The nurse bees only have to feed the brood that is not yet capped. Somehow, the small hive can curtail the queen to lay only so many eggs that the nurse bees can take care of them. Unless the nurse bees go and eat the eggs that they cannot take care of. The limiting factor does not appear to be the egg laying capacity of the queen.

I just think that it may be that small hives have better hygienic behaviour versus large hives.
 

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>what is the maximum nurse bee versus brood cell ratio in a big hive versus a small hive?

I think it's a matter of bees for that given valume and bees for the number of brood cells. If you have enough bees but too much volume they still can't maintain the environment. If you have the right proportion of volume, bees and brood it works well.

>The nurse bees only have to feed the brood that is not yet capped.

And warm all the brood that IS capped.

>Somehow, the small hive can curtail the queen to lay only so many eggs that the nurse bees can take care of them.

They do this by some combination of filling the cells with nectar to keep the queen from laying, eating the excess eggs and herding the queen around some. I've observed them doing all three at different times or in combination. Since they clean the cell for the queen, I also wonder if they "tag" it with some pheromone to let her know she can lay in it now? If so, they could just not "tag" as many cells.

>Unless the nurse bees go and eat the eggs that they cannot take care of.

They do sometimes.

>The limiting factor does not appear to be the egg laying capacity of the queen.

No, it seldom, but sometimes, is.

>I just think that it may be that small hives have better hygienic behaviour versus large hives.

I don't think so at all. I think the larger hive is more hygenic simply because it has more houskeepeers. The small hive has less varroa simply because it has less brood.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yes, I understand and fully accept that a larger hives has "more" of any kind of workers in absolute numbers but does this hold true in relative numbers?

Given the same environmental condition, is the same percentage of bees foraging, nursing, warming, guarding, cleaning etc. in a small hive versus a large hive?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
...would the cut down process make a large hive more susceptible to varroa/viral damage as compared to a small hive? A booming large hive can sometimes collapse very quickly. It would make sense that the varroa has learned or selectively bred to jump to the survivors and not end up on bees and drones dying in the field.
 

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>...would the cut down process make a large hive more susceptible to varroa/viral damage as compared to a small hive?

Exactly.

>A booming large hive can sometimes collapse very quickly.

Exactly.

>It would make sense that the varroa has learned or selectively bred to jump to the survivors and not end up on bees and drones dying in the field.

They probably do. By my observation, the concentration of Varroa increases as the bee population drops off in the fall.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What is your proposed mechanism for a varroa increase in the fall?
Do the varroa smell age and jump off the older bee that are likely to die before winter?
Are there more varroa developing in the fall brood?
Are the varroa on the drones jumping off before the drones get kicked out of the hive?
Are the bees less hygienic in the fall versus summer?
 

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>What is your proposed mechanism for a varroa increase in the fall?

The population of bees is decreasing rapidly, the number of phoretic mites is increasing as the open brood decreases, but still there seems to be an even bigger jump than that would explain, but then you have robbing out crashing hives bringing back even more.

>Do the varroa smell age and jump off the older bee that are likely to die before winter?

I don't know, but they are pretty mobile.

>Are there more varroa developing in the fall brood?

I don't know, but the population tend to build over the course of the year, so there tends to be more varroa and therefore more offspring of varroa.

>Are the varroa on the drones jumping off before the drones get kicked out of the hive?

The drones are usually dragged out of the hive. Ample opportunity to jump onto a worker. I don't know if it's been studied.

>Are the bees less hygienic in the fall versus summer?

No by my observation. But there are no brood to chew out in the fall. There is in the summer.
 
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