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How you treat Varoa in a HTBH?
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
There must be more to varroa related issues than actual Varroa mite count.


My conclusion was, that there must be more than varroa. Which is why I came to pesticides. Others blame viruses and yes, once you see virus damage in bees, they are pretty much done. I reckon the immune system is key when it comes to bee survival.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1551
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree about the pesticides of course. There are hundreds of researches proving that pesticides damage/kill bees. No doubt there.

What I dont understand is the case of my old conventional mentor who treat his bees with both Oxalic and Formic acids every year, culls drones, uses wax foundation (which he changes every year), makes lots of honey like any other conventional beek, prevents swarming and instead of making a split he simply re-queens (or the split get a newly mated queen) yet he had huge loss (80% in 2012 but 10-20% other years) in an area of no pesticide use and with lots of wild forage from spring to autumn. He also has no other beeks in a 10 km radius.

Some 60 km or so away in the same region my friend has bees in Top Bar Hives without treatments and they keep surviving for the last 6 years (0% losses). He lets them swarm every year when the bees see it fit, he feeds them with their own honey, bees build natural comb with various cell size and he doesn't inspect often. He is not isolated from other beeks. He too lives in a area which is pesticide free and has lots of wild forage.

There must be more to Varroa issues then only Varroa count and pesticides and even if there is biodiversity around. There must be also something to do with the conventional beekeeping practice like mono-cell foundation, swarm prevention, drone culling, queen cell culling, lack of brood break, often inspections, ...

Any way so far my bees survived for 2 years without treatments but in a much healthier surrounding then this new one I moved to now.
But then again; 2 years ago one conventional beek from my locality tried to go treatment free (cold turkey) and all his colonies died! I too did the same yet all my colonies survived. The only difference is that I keep bees in top bar hives with natural comb, they get to swarm/artificial swarm in form of splitting which leads to brood break, I dont cull drones.
The beek in questions does all the conventional practices except treating that time.

How do we explain this? I mean I have his experience and my experience to compare in the same locality.
Then I have my old mentors experience and my friends experience in TBHs again in same locality.

Lets also assume that in my case I and my bees are just lucky. But what about my friend with TBHs which survived 6 years treatment free and going strong?

I understand that you base your experience on your locality which is ladden with pesticides and corn. But there are many places in Sweden where there are no pesticides and the environment is biodiverse/wild yet even there conventional beeks (who treat every year with Oxalic/Formic/Thymol) have losses due varroa issues. So it seems that it is not only pesticides who do the damage but something in the manipulation of the Bien is also creating havoc.

I am not claiming anything here Smile Im am just contemplating.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a new study just published
Eliash N, Singh NK, Kamer Y, Pinnelli GR, Plettner E, et al. (2014) Can We Disrupt the Sensing of Honey Bees by the Bee Parasite Varroa destructor? PLoS ONE 9(9): e106889. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106889


"The ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor, is considered to be one of the most significant threats to apiculture around the world. Chemical cues are known to play a significant role in the host-finding behavior of Varroa. The mites distinguish between bees from different task groups, and prefer nurses over foragers. We examined the possibility of disrupting the Varroa – honey bee interaction by targeting the mite’s olfactory system. In particular, we examined the effect of volatile compounds, ethers of cis 5-(29-hydroxyethyl) cyclopent-2-en-1-ol or of dihydroquinone, resorcinol or catechol. We tested the effect of these compounds on the Varroa chemosensory organ by electrophysiology and on behavior in a choice bioassay. The electrophysiological studies were conducted on the isolated foreleg. In the behavioral bioassay, the mite’s preference between a nurse and a forager bee was evaluated."

Now can this bit of information be useful? Any ideas or thoughts?
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
the case of my old conventional mentor who treat [...]
How do we explain this?


First of all, it is a myth, that "conventional" beekeepers that treat have losses as high as treatmentfree beekeepers. At least this is the case with conventional beekeepers I know of, and that are a many many many. In the hundreds...losses are between 0-5 %, no more.

Treatmentfree beekeepers on the other hand - and I know many many many - do loose bees on a regularily basis, more than 10-20 % each year.

Now, I do see cases like the one of your old mentor, in fact I have seen such a case two days ago. A single hive shows massive varroa infestation despite regular treatments whereas other hives in the same yard do not have much mites. I see this with my treatment free hives, too, sometimes. The hives being side by side. One hive high infestation, the other has virtually no mites. This goes for years, side by side. And with new queens (swarms) each year, the situation is the same.

If you find those hives, remove and destroy all brood, treat and requeen with a better breed of bees. I check for mites through more than hundred hives and yes, you see colonies having less mites than others and I keep bees from certain queens that have low mites over generations. Once you get fresh blood into the apiary a lot of problems are gone.

So in the case of your old mentor it might be genetics. Does he grow his own queens? It also might be over-treatment. A miticide is an insecticide, too. Always. So you can weak your hives with too much treatment and wrong treatment tools at the wrong time.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HowieNZ wrote:

Do you let your colonies naturally swarm?

My intention is to allow a number of my colonies to and the remainder perform an artificial swarm if splitting is indicated.
HowieNZ wrote:

My thinking which may be totally wrong, doesn't that actually load up the colony with a higher Varroa count percentage wise per number of bees left in the colony?

The short answer is no, but not to get between Bernhard and Che but Bernhard is right swarming doesn't necessarily reduce mite load per se. But is that what we want? I think we may have to accept that we will have mites and attempt to develop management techniques and ultimately colonies which can live alongside the mite without detrimental effect on the colony. During the period of broodlessness the amount of varroa is not increasing. Observable mite count may well increase because they are all on bees rather that hidden in pupating cells. The hidden part of the iceberg emerging as it were. This is the time the colony has an opportunity to groom mites from each other both because the mites are "out and about" and because they are not spending their time looking after brood.

HowieNZ wrote:

What strategies do you use in your top bar hive to maintain the higher temperature around the brood?
How are you minimising the loss of Hive scent?


Nothing ground breaking I am afraid. Not opening up without a very specific need to do so. Keeping inspections to a minimum in extent, time, and frequency. Opening up at times of the day which allow them time to regain hive atmosphere before sunset. I believe the ecofloor will be useful for this too as it could act as a heat and scent reservoir for the hive.

HowieNZ wrote:

The difficulty of the genetics from the little I think I know is that unless you can control which drones are mating with your maiden queens, you are always going to get a 50 % chance or less of improving resistance unless your apiary is very isolated?


I am afraid genetics is considerably more multi-factorial than that. Even if you are only dealing with one gene effecting mite resistance (which you aren't) the queen can mate with 10-20 different drones. BUT if you want to simply it as much a possible you can look at it from three angles which all relate to the only thing genetics care about ie survival:
1) Colony tolerance:
If the colony displays on a whole that it has a mechanisms by which it can cope with varroa then drones will not be affected (or affected less) and therefore survive to mate.
2) Individual tolerance:
If a individual drone has mechanisms of resistance to varroa that drone (as well as its brothers) it well survive to mate.
3) Probability the queen will encounter a drone with or without colony or individual resistance.
Since those who practice chemical treatments often also practice control of drone numbers (ie use of worker foundation and/or drone cullying as "integrated pest management"). Those who are treatment-free as usually natural comb so hopefully we are flooding our areas with varroa competent drones.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks AugustC for answering my questions Smile
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was talking to a "traditional" bee keeper today and when I mentioned Top Bar hives and also foundationless Langstoth hives, he said you can't do that the bees will make far to much "Drone Brood Cells" and cause high Varroa loads, is this true, do the bees make more drone Brood Cells in your experience?
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1137
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes they make more drone cells, but not too many. Only as many as they feel they need!

One train of thought is that queens get poorly mated as drone production is suppressed by the use of single (worker) size foundation.
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not that I know anything about genetics! - but how can it make sense for beekeepers who on the one hand hope for bees which can eventually adapt to cope with varroa, to then on the other hand try to limit their breeding material and options by controlling and restricting drone production - ?
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1137
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't make any sense, unless the limitation is to bees already showing the right traits!

BBKA et al tend encourage the use of chemicals and drone culling to control Varroa. They are always looking for a quick fix, not a sustainable option! Confused
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HowieNZ wrote:
I was talking to a "traditional" bee keeper today and when I mentioned Top Bar hives and also foundationless Langstoth hives, he said you can't do that the bees will make far to much "Drone Brood Cells" and cause high Varroa loads, is this true, do the bees make more drone Brood Cells in your experience?

This is an extremely narrow way of thinking of things.
On natural comb they will only ever make as many drones as they feel they need. Having never been a bee I am afraid I lack an informed opinion on how many drones a hive should have so I leave that bit up to them.

As for removing drone comb to reduce mite load. Based of the rate of replication of the mite compared to the bee all you will be doing is selecting for mites that prefer workers.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1549
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
My conclusion was, that there must be more than varroa. Which is why I came to pesticides. Others blame viruses and yes, once you see virus damage in bees, they are pretty much done. I reckon the immune system is key


I agree that the immune system is probably the key. I suspect that the mechanism for this is probably as much the restricted forage due to industrial farming as the pesticides. Of course if there were not vast areas of monocrop then natural processes would limit the pests.

Quote:
First of all, it is a myth, that "conventional" beekeepers that treat have losses as high as treatmentfree beekeepers.


While a small sample size, those of us who are treatment free in Cambridge area have experienced lower losses than the national losses over the past few years. What I don't have is local figures for those who treat.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1551
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cant say if one should treat because I never did it and I dont even know how to for example do a Oxalic dribble without harming myself and the bees Smile So far all my colonies seem to be surviving without any treatments at all and those in my local area who treat eac year do have losses.

Last year most had 20% in my area in Sweden. I had 0%. I can't say why that is but I do know how they manage their colonies and how I manage mine.

Their colonies dont get the brood break at all. They breed queens in breeding cassetes and once the virgin is mated they take the old queen from the production colony, kill her and place in the newly mated queen. Egg laying is not interrupted at all, bees dont get any brood break until winter time. It is naive to say that brood break can't slow down Varroa, No new brood no new Varroa either.

They have mono-cell foundation (some 5,1mm others 5,3mm). They do Drone culling I dont. We both feed sugar for winter because they take all the honey away and my bees simply never make enough for themselves. They change all the comb in July I don't.

So I dont know if my bees are simply lucky or if there is something in this management of mine. This particular locality in Sweden has no issues with mono-crop agriculture and small scale farmers usually keep horses and cows and sheep, lots of private owned forest (without pesticides).

So far I had bees in 3 entirely different environments. This time the worst ever, mono-crop environment. Lets see how many of my colonies make through this winter. I see a few colonies throwing out bees with DWV. I will not treat and see what comes out next year, then I will decide how I will continue in the future. Denmark got Varroa long before Sweden where my bees come from so I expect this Danish Varroa is more virulent thanks to consistent yearly treating.
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