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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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I overwintered the first time this year because I used OAV (oxalic acid vapor). I failed in the past. I think I can use OAV to get TF (treatment free).

Last year, I put 3 packages in dead outs. I did 1 spring treatment The queens superseded around June 20. Hives looked queenless, so I swapped brood and queen cells weekly for 2 weeks. I did 3 rounds of OAV in summer/fall (5 treatments from day 0 to 20) and 1 winter solstice round (2 treatments from day 0 to 1). I open fed 33 lbs/hive in September and added 8 lb sugar bricks. I equalized and had 3 hives (4 mediums, mostly empty on top). I checked hives in late winter. They looked equal and about the same as in summer. I added 4 lb sugar bricks. All hives foraged pollen (starting in Feb/Mar). 1 died in Mar. I added it to the other 2. I made makeshift queens ASAP, and got 1. The old hives superseded the same time as last year. I made 2 more queens from a supersedure. I did a round of OAV and skipped mating nucs. A week later (7/24), I got 2 TF queens from Hall Apiaries. I installed 1 with a push in cage. The other flew immediately. I didn't know to install indoors. I grafted from my 1 Hall queen on 8/1. I didn't make a good cell starter or feed syrup right. They had plenty of food and bees. I got 3 cells.

My hives:
  1. 10 frame foundationless mediums
  2. hive sizes in mediums: Hall queen: 0.7, bad queens: 0.7, 3, 3, 4, 4
  3. SBB (screened bottom boards)
  4. top entrances

When I mate the good queens, I will use excluders to stop my bad drones. They might have no drones to mate with. Should I buy more queens this/next year? How should I deal with the genetic bottleneck? I plan to not treat my Hall queen hive until I evaluate it next year. I will make/buy good 5 frame cell starter equipment.
 

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I would be a bit concerned about your reliance on OA exclusively. The more you use it subsequent times, the more resistant mites will get. Are you monitoring/checking their mite loads? If so, what do they look like?

Your queens may be getting suped due to overexposure to treatments. She is the only bee in the hive that is around for every single one. Folks who generally treat a lot, like commercial growers, usually have to requeen every year in late summer to make up for that.

Also, your queens will most likely not mate with drones produced in your apiary. Queens tend to travel much further away than drones are willing to go. This is a mechanism they developed that prevents her from mating with her brothers.
 

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I believe I have seen a few references that suggest if there are drone congregation areas very close to your yard that the queens will be bred before they travel very far. I have seen nothing reporting the queen takes evasive action till she gets far from home. I wonder if this popular meme is factually supported.

My location just about checks off all the boxes for what reportedly constitutes common drone congregation areas. On the edge of a miles long glacial morraine; At a 4 way road intersection; At the edge of a tree line; A clearing in surrounding tree cover; No other known kept or feral bees for 3 miles or more.

I am inclined to believe that I am my own source for breeding drones. I have brought in new queens occasionally anyways but I dont really have a handle on how to spot inbreeding. I usually have near perfect mating success and color and character stays constant. ~8 colonies.
 

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I would be a bit concerned about your reliance on OA exclusively. The more you use it subsequent times, the more resistant mites will get. Are you monitoring/checking their mite loads? If so, what do they look like?

Your queens may be getting suped due to overexposure to treatments. She is the only bee in the hive that is around for every single one. Folks who generally treat a lot, like commercial growers, usually have to requeen every year in late summer to make up for that.

Also, your queens will most likely not mate with drones produced in your apiary. Queens tend to travel much further away than drones are willing to go. This is a mechanism they developed that prevents her from mating with her brothers.
It would be like becoming fire resistant. OA burns their face off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
1 of my queens is from a strong hive supersedure. It performed poorly (skinny, drones in 5% of capped worker brood). I thought the hive was queenless. I put a nuc in the bottom, found the old queen in the top, and put it in a nuc. Could that still be a good queen? My 3 Hall queen cells hatch 8/11-8/15. I'm going to check for queenlessness when filling a queen castle for those. If all queens are alive, I'm killing 1 or 2 queens and installing my 2 nucs. I plan to check the queen castles for drone layers before installing. Mite drops were about even (<15 on all during the OAV). Last year the same OAV dropped >50x more mites.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
8/9: The cell finisher was queenless. I destroyed its queen cells, robbed it to make 2 mating nucs, and installed my Hall queen's nuc at the bottom.

8/12: I equalized, condensed, and put on excluders for the mating. Bees were mean. They're quick to rob open hives. Open fed sugar is ignored.
Hives sizes: 3, 3, 2, 2, 2 mediums and 2 mating nucs (2 fr.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
8/9 IMG_0539 - Copy.JPG IMG_0543 - Copy.jpg IMG_0544 - Copy.JPG
I shook bees after installing the QCs. QCs might have been damaged by the falling bees.

8/17: I did the Randy Oliver pollen check (for jelly + larvae) on one of the 2 "at risk" hives. They passed. I will check foragers weekly. If I don't see pollen, when should the next Oliver test be to decide whether to buy sub? I forgot to check my important queen hive for eggs. If the nuc install failed, QCs could hatch on 8/19. I will check tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Larvae looked dry. There's a big drought, but I think there's decent rain every week. There were 3 days of heavy rain ending yesterday. Ultra Bee pollen sub arrived yesterday. I mixed ~200 ml of sub + sugar (1 part each by vol.) and added water with a small amount of pollen to get the viscosity of petroleum jelly. I added that to the 5 hives. I set up an open feeder with a small amount of sub and sugar water. I scented the outside with 1 drop lemongrass and rubbed 1 leaf each of oregano and mint.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I fed my important hive a frame feeder of 2:1 last week.

I opened hives to shrink entrances and pour some sugar water. The syrup I poured on them might get them interested in open feeding tomorrow. I calculated I need to feed 174.4 lbs of sugar. I mixed that as 25:13 sugar water. I recently froze a nectar frame to see if it helps to start open feeding. I did OAV on 4/5 hives.
 

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There's a dearth thread for Massachusetts (and not other places) this year. Is there more dearth or complaining here?
I am the one that started that tread because I have not seen one done in any states in recent years.
This year in MA is bad, worse then other years I had seen (with out bees, but known due to farming).
Also even with in MA there were harder hit areas. My area seemed to have missed some Great rains that had Biblical parting around me :(

Also, when you feed outside openly be careful as you are also feeding other bees/wasps/ant etc.
I did it and though it wasn't too bad but then, due to drought, was feeding every one !
Someone near me has Green syrup frames :ROFLMAO:

BTW, how did
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Here's how the bees changed after the cold snap and snow. There's more entrance activity. Flying bees are young and don't have pollen.

A few weeks ago, I equalized, then open fed another 100 lbs. I lost a queen when equalizing. Last night I did OAV on 3 hives (and not the 1 hive with the TF queen). I decided to do 2 single OAVs (with brood) in the fall instead of another 20 day round of 5. I will then do one OAV as soon as I think they're broodless, and a strong round around winter solstice.

I'm down to 4 hives (2 with 4 boxes, 2 with 3 boxes). Today, I added 1/4 box to each hive, and sugar bricks in the space I just created. I have almost no comb that's not on hives. I have around 40-50 lbs of sugar bricks that I plan to add on warm days after winter solstice. I'm not succeeding. My hives are about the same strength as last year, but I have 1 more. Once I find the right cover and feeder system, I will do better. I need to learn when and how to do maintenance feeding.
 
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