I am entering year 3 of my beekeeping. Small cell has shown me it is quite effective. Michael Bush has been using it for a very long time. if they are going to adapt, it is going to take them a very very long time.
I am entering my 46 beekeeping years and I have studied genetics in Helsinki University.
I have not experience on small cells, but I have on natural cells.
Natural cells do not protect bees from mites. All natural beehives vanishes from Finland and over 90% has vanished from other countries.
Africanized bees generated soon tolerance to mites. In every country bees have adapted to live with mite but not to kill them totally. Mite adapt well in diffrent circumtancies
. It has more and more power in worl's beekeeping.
What time it takes, no one knows. There are different strains or mutation among varroa and only some are able to live in Apis mellifera hives.
AHB have a cell size of 4.62 mm they are smaller bee with none of the hygenic behaviors. AHB are able to deal with Varroa because of their smaller size which is because of smaller cell size.
The problem is nature would rather achieve a balance.
That is common man's fairytale like "Good has made all species" or "nature knows best". Nature is not going nowhere in balance. All the time nature is changing. Some species add their numbers and some are extincting.
When the system goes out of balance is when speices go extinct. I figured University would have told you that.
When small cell is not used with Varroa the hive is destroyed if some other means such as chemicals they will over run the hive.
Many small cell beekeepers have lost their hives and their profession.
To many beekeprs Michale is a guru but scientical world does not mention his systems or reports.
In many rich countries they are working against varroa. Best are Germany, USA and New Zealand - as far as I know. They try to generate systems how to manage without chemicals.
We have one tough bee breeders which have tried to breed mite resistant bee but he losts every year 100-200 nucs for varroa.
I may read from internet that there are succes in varroa tolerant bee breeding, but the system is not competetive with mite& chemical systems. In hoibby level you may do wha ever but if you have 1000 hives and you sell 1$/lbs raw honey, you drop from competition with natural systems.
I have only twenty hives. I drive every week to my summer cottage where bees are. Every can tank of gasoline pays to me 110 US $.
The trip is not worth drive If i go there calculate mites and wonder small cells. Mite is my friend. It killed lazy beekeepers who nursed bees in natural way. Mite killed German Black bee race.After that beekeeping has bees child's activity compared to old good days.
I try to keep my fingers out from natural beekeeping but I must straighten sometimes the information what are delivered as truth.
I have been going through more reports on Varroa than I can shake a stick at lately. So let me make a few things clear about Varroa in the states. The only species of bee that is naturally immune to to Varrroa is Apis cerana , the eastern European honeybee. This species of bee is not currently in the US. Bees called Hygenics are bees that have been manipulated through breeding and the problem is there is no guarentee that those traits would be passed on to the next generation queen. The report below claims they do but that they cannot deal with high levels of infestation.
Also for clarification the species of Varroa in the US is destructor. V. destructor for years was thought to be V. jacobsoni and many of the scientific reports list it as such. Those reports name the wrong species of Varroa. Apis cerana is able to handle both.
So lets look at some of the reports.http://www.entomology.umn.edu/Faculty/spivak/SpivakReuterEconEnt2001.pdf
Varroa destructor Infestation in Untreated Honey Bee Colonies selected for Hygenic Behavior.
Marla Spival and Gary S. Reuter
From the Abstract:
ABSTRACT Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies bred for hygienic behavior were tested in
large field trial to determine if they were able to resist the parasitic mite Varroa destructor better than unselected colonies of "Starline" stock. Colonies bred for hygienic behavior are able to detect uncap, and remove experimentally infested brood from the nest, although the extent to which the behavior actually reduces the overall mite-load in untreated, naturally infested colonies needed further verification. The results indicate that hygienic colonies with queens mated naturally to unselected drones had signifcantly fewer mites on adult bees and within worker brood cells than Starline colonies for up to 1 yr without treatment in a commercial, migratory beekeeping operation
Hygienic colonies actively defended themselves against the mites when mite levels were relatively low. At high mite infestations ( 15% of worker brood and of adult bees), the majority of hygienic colonies required treatment to prevent collapse. Overall, the hygienic colonies had similar adult populations and brood areas, produced as much honey, and had less brood disease than the Starline colonies. Thus, honey bees bred for hygienic behavior performed as well if not better than other commercial lines of bees and maintained lower mite loads for up to one year without treatment.
From the disertation:
Analysis of Varroa Destructor Infestation of Southern African Honey Bee Populationhttp://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08082007-153050/unrestricted/dissertation.pdf
The abstract contains the following:Varroa has not left a trail of destruction in South Africa as had been expected and no large scale collapse of honeybee population occured, despite the majority of beekeepers deciding not to protect their hives with chemical varroacides.
The report focuses on two tpes of bees Apis melifera capensis (The Cape bee) and Apis melifera sculleta (African honey bee). We have AHB here. His report states the hygenics of both sets of bees. Not that the bees brushed off the Varroa but that basically the bees simply removed affliceted brood. The report shows that chemicals were not used and that the bees survived.
Then there was this report which was a study on cell size and Varroa.
The influence of brood comb cell size on the
reproductive behavior of the ectoparasitic
mite Varroa destructor in Africanized
honey bee colonieshttp://www.funpecrp.com.br/GMR/year2003/vol1-2/pdf/gmr0057.pdf
From the abstract:
Africanized honey bees are normally kept in hives with both
naturally built small width brood cells and with brood cells made from
European-sized foundation, yet we know that comb cell size has an effect
on varroa reproductive behavior.
So there has been a study to show that cell size does make a difference.
Finsky, we have a saying here in the states. It says never wrestle with a pig in the mud. Because eventually you will realize the pig likes it and you both end up dirty.
Thanks Finsky for the chance to reply.
I am still trying to get a hold of report from Dr. James Tew that he wrote on the effects of Varroa in North America. This is apperently the keystone report for the fear of Varroa in North America. Everyone cites it including Dr. Malcom Sanford in several articles. Yesterday I asked for a copy of this report. Guess what. He doesn't have one and if I find a copy he would like one.
Dr. Otto Boecking and I have been coresponding. It has been enlightening.