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Who on biobees is treatment-free?
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Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Bee health: the treatment (or not) of bee pests and diseases
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happyculteur
Foraging Bee


Joined: 12 Sep 2009
Posts: 117
Location: France, provence, (mountain climate)

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

zaunreiter wrote:

This is why swarming does not reduce mite population and thus damage to the brood. But increases population and damage.


Bernhard, if we concentrate on the swarm that leaves,rather than on the part of the colony that rests, there is a much diminished mite load. By swarming, the bees are keeping one step ahead. Could it not be useful to capture the swarm and destroy the brood and comb that remains in the original hive?
Regards.
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quioui
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Apr 2011
Posts: 114
Location: Istanbul, Turkey

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my third season in beekeeping. I have only one colony in a Warré hive that has never been treated.

I started the colony from a natural swarm and in the first year they suffered from varroa, especially in the autumn. I saw many bees with deformed wings thrown out of the hive but I didn't do anything about it.

The bees overwintered successfully. At the beginning of the season the colony was quite weak as they have lost many bees to varroa in the previous autumn but they built up fast in the spring. That year I didn't see a single bee with deformed wings and no dead varroa mites on the bottom board! We had drought that year so I didn't get any honey.

This year the colony is alive and they started bringing in plenty of pollen. So far I haven't opened the hive but they seem to be much stronger than last year. I gambled with a single colony by not treating and so far it looks like a success. By the way I do not feed my bees anything, they are completely self-sustaining.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

happyculteur wrote:
... the swarm that leaves,...much diminished mite load. By swarming, the bees are keeping one step ahead.


That certainly isn't the case. Remember that the original host Apis cerana swarms a lot several times a year leaving the brood, combs and all behind.

The varroa mite is best adapted to swarming.

My own control treatments showed that there are a lot of mites in a swarm. See:



This swarm carried 465 mites. After settling there were another 2,000 mites developing in that swarm colony. Sufficient to kill that colony before winter.

I thought the same before as you do now. I was wrong as I found out.

There is a lot to learn and maybe you have to try and see yourself to believe me. But there is no doubt: swarming and all other brood reduction leads to an explosion of the mite population. Note that swarm preparations start more than one month before swarming, so mites do have enough time to reproduce and then jump onto the swarm.

That mechanism actually is used to trap mites. All brood is removed except one trap brood comb. Mites run for the remaining brood and can be removed when the brood is capped.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst I can't quote facts and figures like Bernhard, I can speak from my experience, which is that my local dark bees are coping untreated in my location and climate. I believe our recent new member Samphorgatherer, who has 100 hives in Wales untreated also uses local dark bees. I personally have not seen any colony loss that could be attributed to varroa in recent years and my bees like to swarm. Therefore my experience suggests that native bees which like to swarm and live in a healthy environment are coping with varroa.
As we know, beekeeping is very dependent on local conditions and where one person has success with certain circumstances, someone in a different part of the world may find the same circumstances result in colony demise. That is why you need to figure out what works in your area. I'm not into the why's and wherefore's of how it works, but my bees seem to have found a good balance at the moment.

I do agree with Bernhard that only treating colonies that need to be treated is the best place to start and my gut feeling, like Andy and Grzegorz, is that local bees, ideally swarms, should be your first choice.

I find it almost as difficult to believe that people are still suffering significant colony losses to varroa as Anthony finds it to believe that peoples bees survive treatment free. Clearly things are very different in his part of the world to mine. We therefore ALL need to remember that our experience does not mean it is reproducible elsewhere and try not to stamp our ideas on others.

Regards

Barbara
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, let me take a new shot at this! I have been contemplating and meditating on this!

Dee Lusby reported great losses when starting treatment free on small cells. She did shook swarm from the conventional cell size, shaking them into hives with 4.9mm cells.

Michael Bush sais that there is no need to go "Cold Turkey" and that he uses Oxalic Acid Vaporisier (Dennis Murrell's design) during the transition time. Like this he had much less losses than Dee.

The bees I will get this year are treated with Oxalic Acid every year religiously. I wonder if it is of benefit to treat half the regular dose of Oxalic Acid for the first year and then stop. Even drug addicts take the dose down slowly when quiting the addiction.

I honestly dislike to death the use of foreign substances in hives! The problem is also that we humans easily develop habits to things, in this case treating! I dont want to get on that treadmill!

I could aslo buy the bees as a shook swarm without any comb. In this case I will make sure to feed them well so they have fuel to build wax.

For this I will need lots of bees shaken I guess!
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AnthonyD
Silver Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 707
Location: County Kerry Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:

Initial Varroa loss is expected because bees never experienced it before in newly Varroa invaded areas. Many bees die. Those which live develope resistant genes. Feral bees in some parts of the world exhibit resistance. This might be the combination of small natural cell (pre/post cupping time) and adapted genes.



You're totally and utterly confusing the issue.

Che Guebuddha wrote:

because bees never experienced it before


Experienced what? Varroa or the viruses it carries?

Che Guebuddha wrote:

Many bees die


From Varroa or the viruses it carries?

Che Guebuddha wrote:

Those which live develope resistant genes.


You don't have any idea how big a leap that is! Its a a massive assumption.

You're confusing varroa and the viruses the mite carries.

Initital die-off is largely due to the viruses.

Therefore its nothing to do with genes.

Its a matter of their immune system coping with the viruses.


Che, this problem is a lot more complex than you seem to realize. If you go completely treatment free you will soon realize that.
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AnthonyD
Silver Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 707
Location: County Kerry Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:

I find it almost as difficult to believe that people are still suffering significant colony losses to varroa as Anthony finds it to believe that peoples bees survive treatment free.


You're putting words in my mouth. I never said I don't believe it or find it hard to believe, just that we are a long way from being at the stage where we can say that any particular colony of bees is living in balance with varroa.

I've been having long conversations with Samphorgatherer about this and I think he is right in his approach. He thinks, like me that when we start to see ferals thriving with varroa then we make a move. (As he has)

But the fact is, people are losing colonies due to varroa, its true, initial losses when varroa first appeared can be largely attributed to viruses carried by the mite, but if you have ever seen a colony collapse due to varroa overload then you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the problem.

I think, in you're case Barbara you just haven't seen the effects of it, you're simply unaware of the reality of it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, you're view of varroa is coloured largely by you're very lucky experience with it.

So its very much a case of rose-tinted glasses. Had you lost colony after colony to it, you would be singing a very different tune.

Barbara wrote:

Clearly things are very different in his part of the world to mine.


Not really no. The BBKA and FIBKA have very close links and many UK beekeepers come to Gormanstown year after year, I personally know several UK beeks, some of whom I met at Gormanstown. Nobody is in any doubt about the reality of losses due to varroa.

edit to add: It must be said that the density of colonies in the UK is much higher than in the ROI/ NI

Barbara wrote:

We therefore ALL need to remember that our experience does not mean it is reproducible elsewhere and try not to stamp our ideas on others.


I was about to say the same thing to you.

Except in your case, you're experience seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. tbh though, I'd say you're lucky streak will probably end at some point. If it is a matter of bee genetics, well that changes from year to year, if its a matter of mite genetics, you could lose that in one season too if you lost you're colonies for some other reason. If its for some unknown random reason then it could go as easily as it came.

Remember, just because we would like something to be true, it doesn't mean that it actually is.


Last edited by AnthonyD on Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AnthonyD wrote;
Quote:
I think, in you're case Barbara you just haven't seen the effects of it, you're simply unaware of the reality of it.


You have a very brain washing atitude. You are entirelly falling in my eyes!
You seem to know the reality! What a rude patronising man you are!
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AnthonyD
Silver Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 707
Location: County Kerry Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
I wonder if it is of benefit to treat half the regular dose of Oxalic Acid for the first year and then stop. Even drug addicts take the dose down slowly when quiting the addiction.


The bees aren't consuming the oxalic acid, so that is a very poor analogy.

I don't think halving the recommended treatment would have any effect other than rendering the treatment less useful, or perhaps even useless, which would then beg the question - why put the treatment in, in the first place?
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AnthonyD
Silver Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 707
Location: County Kerry Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:

You have a very brain washing atitude. You are entirelly falling in my eyes!
You seem to know the reality! What a rude patronising man you are!


Do you actually know what brain washing is? Its something completely impossible in the written form.

I do actually know the reality, I've lost one colony due to varroa, one of my best friends has lost 8 over the past 4 years. And I've spoken to numerous people (not just from Ireland) who have lost colonies due to varroa.

So yes, I do.

If everyone who disagrees with you is 'patronizing/rude' then you'll never learn anything.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are the most active member in this thread for someone who never tried treatment-free approach Rolling Eyes
Ah yes, I forgot, you know the reality Rolling Eyes
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andy pearce
Silver Bee


Joined: 30 Aug 2009
Posts: 663
Location: UK, East Sussex, Brighton

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bernhard, I am very interested in your reply, this is something I shall study more, and is actually the reverse of my assumption.
Thanks
A
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AnthonyD
Silver Bee


Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 707
Location: County Kerry Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
You are the most active member in this thread for someone who never tried treatment-free approach


Actually I have tried it, albeit unintentionally! The colony I lost to varroa was never treated for varroa! (I didn't get around to it for one reason or another, and they seemed fine, but I lacked then the understanding of the lifecycle of the mite and the effects varroa has on honeybee populations, much as you do now, before you have lost any colonies to it.)

Needless to say it died. I certainly wouldn't offer that as evidence that a treatment free approach is incorrect, I fully realize its only one colony and does not approach study-level data. But it is a nice little suggestive point of the reality beekeepers with any experience face on the ground season to season.
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samphorgatherer
House Bee


Joined: 15 May 2012
Posts: 10
Location: Gwynedd. N. Wales

PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had higher than normal losses this year but plenty of good healthy ones left to breed from. Talking to other non-treaters last week I`ve been harder hit than most but no harder than treating beeks slightly further afield.
I`m expecting losses to be around 40% against 2.5% last year. A lot of it seems to be down to siting, I have apiaries with no losses and all looking good, yet other sites, particularly damp or exposed sites have high losses.
Should easily recoup numbers over the next few months and I shall also set bait hives.
Most losses seem to be due to weaker than normal colonies clustering tightly on patches of brood and being too cold to move stores in from comb margins. No sign of DWV or more than trace levels of mites.
As most losses are on sites which were similarly affected two years ago
I`ll not be re-stocking a few apiaries. I`m also keen to gradually do away with queen excluders and adopt Tim Roe`s (Rose Hive)system, albeit with commercial shallow boxes.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

samphorgatherer thank you for sharing. I have some questions;

Are your frames foundationless?
Do you use small cell and if not what size do you use?
How is the forage in your area?
Did you treat in the past and with what?

Thank you
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1492
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am hoping to be treatment free this year. My understanding is that varroa levels are likely to be low in UK initially due to the prolonged cold spell reducing the amount of brood for them to lay eggs in. A couple of years ago that was our local bee inspector's explanation for generally low levels. However I will monitor and if it does look like levels are getting high I will at least use icing sugar and possibly the new strips which I think use formic acid?
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave how will you know if Varroa levels are an issue? I dont trust the varroa board. Fallen mites might be due to a very good grooming behavior. Yet most see this as an issue and treat.

I will only watch for deformed wings and general bee vigour for signs of Varroa issues.

This year Im having a new problem;
Local Strawberry grower who is not organic bough a few hectars 300 meters from me. Another conventional potato grower is crop rotating this year with Canola/Rape 2km away. This might impact the bee immunity exposing them to Varroa issues (Bernhard).

Since my new colonies come from a conventional beek treating religiously with Oxal acid every fall I just might do the same this year (but that might change).

Im thinking to treat (oxalic seems to work well here) until i get a few more colonies. Once I've got at least 6 Im considering the Soft Bond, treating only the weakest colonies. To avoid weakness I will do splits from strong survivors and might focus on Equalising stores and brood (Dean Stiglitz) during the season (nothing radical though).

Also, my bees come from conventional wax foundation so until they have gone down to small cell in my hTBHs i might treat (Michael Bush).
It will take time to move the chop n crop foundation comb which I will start with this year.

Its a process
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1492
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't going to judge just by mite fall but also by whether colonies seem healthy in other ways such as deformed wing virus etc.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dusko that sounds like a really good plan.
Good luck with it!
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
...avoid weakness I will do splits from strong survivors and might focus on Equalising stores and brood (Dean Stiglitz)


i suggest not to weaken the strong colonies by splitting, dividing brood and stores. Instead strengthen the strong ones, split the weak colonies dividing their brood and stores onto the strong colonies.

At least that is my plan. Based on what I've seen in beekeeping so far.

Equalizing helps timing your work in a larger beekeeping business, because all colonies can be treated and manipulated the same time and the same way. As a hobbyist there is no real other advantage?

Bernhard
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara!

Interesting what you say Bernhard. How do i determine that a colony is gone bellow the point of no return? Is it by their lack of foraging or else?
So in this case im better off joining weak colony with a strong one. Must one kill the weak Queen? Im not happy to do that.

Last year my mother colony went downhills after the prime swarm deported. After feeding lots of syrup they woke up and now they are still alive with enough stores.

I will drive up north this weekend. Will check both colonies and see if the prime swarm is alive. Cant wait to meet the ladies again Smile
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
Must one kill the weak Queen? Im not happy to do that.


Reckon you would kill the weak one. Not much use combining with a known strong hive and taking a chance that the weak queen gets lucky and kills the queen of the strong hive so you just end up with another weak hive.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You either kill the queen or watch nature do it the slow, painful way. Painful for the colony. I think better you take the pain.

What you can try is to do a shakedown of the colony. Use brood and combs without bees to strengthen the stronger colonies. Carefully check for brood diseases before using the comb. You might introduce diseases into a strong hive.

Resetting the weak colony might help to get rid of non-beneficial microbes. A lot within a hive depends on the right mixture of microbes and stability of the bees' microbiom. You give them another chance or two. Shake down another time. (You have to feed when doing a shakedown of the colony.) This way you produce comb and brood needed by the strong colony. And might get another strong colony if the queen is not a failure but the microbiom. If a reset helps to start again, that is the way to go.

If the queen fails there is nothing that helps except requeening with another queen. Mostly the bees will try do that anyway. By supersedure or swarming.

Bernhard
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the first time a hear the term "microbiom". Do you mind elaborating this please? If you have links about microbiom please post them here.

Thanks
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
This is the first time a hear the term "microbiom". Do you mind elaborating this please? If you have links about microbiom please post them here.

Thanks

English is a difficult language! One letter missing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbiome
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You better know! Razz See: http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5423

They're watching you...
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GeekBeek
New Bee


Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 1
Location: England, Northamptonshire, Kettering

PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:04 pm    Post subject: What's a balance?? Reply with quote

When feral colonies thrive we should react?? I don't know about anyone else's local area but after talking to many local keepers it appears there is a balance between treatment survival and disease survival round the Northampton area. It appears feral bees are surviving just as long as treated bees. My brother Dad and me are starting straight in with 2 apiaries and running the soft bond method. One apiary run the BBKA way and the other completely treatment free (Warre style on National hives). It seems silly to us to follow the BBKA line of treatment on all our bees if they're surviving the same length of time treatment free. The added benefits of having both types of apiary is that you can see which beekeeping methods are more beneficial to the bees health and also contribute toward the bees natural evolution and selection. You can learn from the mistakes as well as the successes but I think you have to let the bees try for themselves. Is anyone else running a similar method to us??
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samphorgatherer
House Bee


Joined: 15 May 2012
Posts: 10
Location: Gwynedd. N. Wales

PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
samphorgatherer thank you for sharing. I have some questions;

Are your frames foundationless?
Do you use small cell and if not what size do you use?
How is the forage in your area?
Did you treat in the past and with what?

Thank you


Most of my frames are foundationless, I`d say 99%. If I pass a nuc on folks sometimes give me back a few frames in exchange which sometimes have foundation in, I generally break corners out to make room for drones. I don`t make a big thing of cell size, it varies from hive to hive and from the centre of combs to the edge from 4.8 to 5.5/5.6, I guess the bees know what they want. Forage is pretty good , lots of small fields and hedges, nature reserves and forestry clear fell.

I treated with thymol and essential oils from 1997 to 2002, Apistan for 2 years then switched back to thymol and OA. Gave up OA in 2007 and gradually phased out thymol, replacing losses from feral swarms and bees bred from some survivors dating back to 2002 and 2004 beloning to a couple of friends. These I have never treated and their offspring now make up a large part of my stock. I`m quite happy to lose anything that can`t survive and breed off the good stuff. Some years losses are negligible, others quite high but never more than 50% which is easily recoverable.
I use solid floors having had repeated problems with losses on OMFs.
I have a lot of apiaries with small hive numbers, just a kilometre apart ideally so I can keep the smoker ticking over plugged with a twist of dry grass between stops.
Few people treat round here these days so really the whole area is pretty well flooded with wild bees again. I think the balance tips in their favour pretty quickly once you get a lot of suviving ferals and few treated bees.
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PrimorskiMite
New Bee


Joined: 29 Mar 2013
Posts: 1
Location: Germany, Hessen

PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@samphorgatherer

Looks very interesting, what you have posted. I ask myself sometimes how many hives (queens) have to be in a genepool to realize varroa tolerance in coutries with a high bee density ( UK, germany, etc. ... )
So... how many hives do you have? Smile
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stevecook172001
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 443
Location: Loftus, Cleveland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't intend to treat. The most I have done is given my caught secondary swarm some sugar syrup to get them going. I've had them over three weeks now and have not fed them for a week and a half. They are housed in a Warre hive. They seem to be doing okay. I intend to let them naturally swarm (if they make it) and catch said swarms to increase my hives.
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