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Author Topic: Plans for 2009 to beat the mites.  (Read 3743 times)
Windy Ridge Apiary
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« on: December 07, 2008, 08:44:21 PM »

Following is the items I plan to implement this year. I will be starting with a clean slate. I haven't seen hardly any bees around my place so I should be able to build a pure drone pool. I will not be using any type of miticide. If I have to it will be powdered sugar. The bee supplier sounds like he sells good stock that has low mite numbers and bees that do not swarm. Let me know what you think.
Doug



1. BeeMax hive bodies from Betterbee.com
2. Small cell wax foundation from Dadant
3. Open bottom boards with 1/2" mesh
4. Pure Russian Bees from longcreekapairies.com
5. Feed pollen substitute from the start
6. Colonies seperated on the property
7. Shelter the hives from the noon sun and cold winter wind
8. Hive top feeder from Mann Lake
9. No chemicals will be used, by my research the smells in the colony
are of utmost importance, chemicals will disturb that balance and
contaminate everything in the hive and stress the bees.
10. I plan to build my colonies to 2 full story nests
11. I will also supply a close water source with fresh running water

 grin
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purvisgs
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2008, 02:49:35 AM »

all bees want to swarm
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2008, 03:22:33 AM »

Well you  have a plan, my guess is  you may become dissatisfied with one of more of those goals before the years over.  Do your self a favor and stick with any game plan for at least 3 years before making changes.  It takes that long to learn the strengths and weaknesses of any approach.  Keep the strengths, and when you do change replace on the weaknesses.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2008, 07:38:20 AM »

Doug,

A couple points....

Myself, I think the beemax hives, are about as far from natural and healthy as one can get. Whether it's for moisture obsorbing into the wood, or lost aspects heat transfer from the sun, I think sometimes one should just go with wood hives. I think as we try to improve in one area, we may harm another. But I guess everyone needs to pick their poison so to speak.

#7...Not sure why you would shelter the hives from the afternoon sun. Studies have clearly shown that full sun locations are best, and I could not imagine that heat is an issue in Washington state. Many people picture in their head, the days that are the hottest, and rationalize that the sun is not needed at noon in August. But there are many more days in the spring and fall, where that fulltime sun, all day long, is much more important.

Not sure your plan about "pure drone pool". But I hope if your breeding, that a second yard with a  maintain second genetic stock is considered. (Unless your going to bring in a new breeder queen to the one apiary for breeding purposes in the future)

I agree with the swarming comment from purvisgs. Healthy colonies swarm. You may try to suppress this through certain management techniques. I hope the comment was not based on any idea that someone has, promotes, or has sold you on the idea that any particular bees do not swarm. Of course I guess the same can be said about marketing bees as "pure". No such thing! I am glad to see that you have considered russians. Great stock to start with.

Overall, I think your on the right path, so to speak. Can you expand on your thoughts about the 1/2 screen size? Are you talking about an OBB system? And I'm also curious to the comment about the separated hives. Are you talking across the property by hundreds of feet or more?

 

 
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2008, 08:22:19 AM »

Doug,

Please update your profile so we know your location (and climate).   For what it is worth,  I have a dozen Beemax hives with Honey Super Cell and solid bottom boards.  They are going on their 3rd year with no treatment and have very light mite counts.   The bees are from feral stock.   I've noticed a big difference in wintering with beemax hives.  They consume almost 1/2 the stores of my wooden hives,  and the added insulation keeps the hive ~10°F warmer and they raise much more brood earlier in the spring.

I personally have gone away from screen bottom boards with good results.  Here are some studies you may find interesting.
http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,16851.0.html

I also question the use of powdered sugar.   Here is a study on the effectiveness.   But my bigger concern, which doesn't seem to get addressed, is the added stress on the bees by the process.
http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,18373.0.html

But overall,  it appears you have put a lot of thought into your plan and I commend you on the effort.  I also agree with Brian and recommend you stick with your plan for an extended period. 

Best of Luck.....



rob..
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Windy Ridge Apiary
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2008, 10:46:28 PM »

Thanks for the comments. First my idea behind the BeeMax hive is based on the feral colonies choice for a home. They choose a tree usually with one entrance in the middle of the woods. The tree is only hollow in the middle leaving a large amount of tree for insulation. The woods are a natural windbreak. Where would you rather be in the cold wind of winter, out in the middle of a field or in a group of trees that will give you a windbreak. The same basic thought goes for the sun. The sun as you know can heat up an object way too fast and much too hot. Yes the bees can regulate the temp inside the hive but just like your house at what expense. I think a wind break in the winter can have a great impact on their survival.

The idea behind spacing the hives is to keep the bees from transferring pests, disease, sevin dust that one hive found but the other didn't by a bee that went to the wrong hive. I know the guard bees are suppose to check each bee, but with chemical treatments what do they smell. The distance apart probably can be a minimun of 5 feet. I will probably place mine around 100 ft since I have 20 acres to work with. This brings up another point, my hives "will not be painted white". Have you tried to look at something white in the bright sunshine. I don't know how bees see, but I think a soft green or blue would be better. I'll let you know how they act.

Where am I? You can go to the GREETINGS PAGE and see my intro. I live in Southwest Missouri.

The OBB. I plan to build my own and the reason for the 1/2" screen is so the dead bees will fall on thru. If the dead bee has mites, the mites will transfer to the house cleaning bees upon their removal if they can't fall through.

I know that swarming bees are natural and healthy. From my research on Russian bees, they aren't as bad to swarm as Italians and Carolinas.

I came to all these conclusions after reading back through all my issues of Bee Culture. I think we have went too far in some of our manipulations of equipment and management and have set the bees up somewhat not to be able to cope with these new pests. One main example is cell size. Left to their own the bees will build 4.9mm which the mite does not like which is probably why it like drone cells even more. Most all foundation is 5.1mm to 5.3mm. Who and why was it made so much bigger than nature size?

I'll stop for now!!!
Thanks
Doug
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2008, 05:49:19 AM »


I know that swarming bees are natural and healthy. From my research on Russian bees, they aren't as bad to swarm as Italians and Carolinas.

the USDA has been working on this the past years because the Russians bee's was the most swarming bee's beside AHB's , I know a few queen raisers like Purvis Brothers that dont sell them any more because the would swarm so much, Dann told me that even pulling frames all the time to make nuc's wouldn't stop them from swarming so he got rid of them, I help USDA Russian Queen breeder and they seem to do just fine with his, so they are improving the swarming habit's. swarming is one of many selection they have to pass to remain in the breeding program.  www.russianbreeder.org   the Queen Breeder I work with is Dwight Porter, he is a member here (Redtractor)
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BjornBee
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2008, 08:08:57 AM »

Doug,
I'll take one item at a time.

You mention "natural" cell size in your explanation, and I guess this also is connected to your choice to go with smallcell.

Forcing bees on smallcell, is NOT natural.

Natural drawn comb has a wide range of cell sizes dictated by the bees needs, time of season, use of the cells within the hive, etc. There are maps that even show based on elevation and geographic area, bees will build cells differently based on this criteria.

I'm not against smallcell. But I am against the idea that smallcell is "natural", "more natural than this or that", or any suggestions that this is what bees would make if it were not for the beekeeper forcing them onto bigger cell foundation. Bees will not regress themselves completely down to or below 4.9 no matter how many times they have the chance. People who keep TBH's, and natural comb frames can see this.

You ask about "why" bees were on larger cells to start with. You must go back to a time when winter loss was almost 0% for all beekeepers. A time when t-mites, v-mites, and other problems did not exist. There were seen advantages to having larger bees, from nectar collection to hive synergies in less wax used for comb making, to cluster nest, etc. And if it were not for the many man-introduced problems, we would probably not be having these discussions. There were AFB (a big problem) and other issues, but nothing that created winter loss or hives crashing as we have recently seen. I don't see the cell size as damaging as the introduced problems we have inflicted upon ourselves, which is completely unnatural in all aspects of what nature dictates.

I am glad to see that you are doing a multitude of items and tackling this as an overall IPM program. For too long, I have heard claims that all you need to do was regress down to smallcell, and seemingly every problem known to beekeeping would go away. I have smallcell, natural cell, and regular cell hives. It is a complete IPM program that gets the best results no matter what comb you use.

Ok, maybe two items....  grin

This whole swarming issue is always interesting. As with many things, I think that breeding out one trait may actually work against another trait you may want. Do we breed out swarming, and have less complacent bees, willing to overlook the need to replace a queen? Swarming is a type of supercedure. We know that studies have shown that first year queens coming out of winter swarm half as much as a second year queen. We also know that a first year queen on average, will produce more eggs, and the colony will produce more honey. So perhaps, understanding what nature dictates and has shown us in what is advantageous is something we should build off of.

I think much of swarming is dictated by flows and urges that are not so easily changed. Yeah, I have heard that this swarming thing has been "controlled' so to speak, time and time again. And 100 years of breeding later, I would suggest were not far from where they started. To me much of it is hype, and marketing to an industry.

Nature gave bees many advantages for survival. So what's next? Russian's shut down in a dearth...are we to change that? Russians go through winter with a smaller cluster... are we to change that? Each of these traits are an advantage, and an item to understand how, and why, the Russians do some of the things they do. And overcoming mites, is easier when you understand how fresh queens, brood breaks, and overwintering ability, all come into play.

99% of swarming control to me is dictated by beekeeper influence. I think you will be dissappointed if you rely on some notion that you are getting a non-swarming bee line from some breeder. You would be better off understanding how to suppress, how to control, and how to use these traits to your advantage. Simple skills such as removing the queen half way through the flow will not only allow you to control your bees and build your colonies, but will allow you to harvest more honey. (which are management skills few use, because the average beekeeper does not understand these skills and does nothing for swarm control except putting out traps and then complaining that their bees swarmed.

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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2009, 10:53:57 PM »

I'd go back and reread what BjornBee wrote.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2009, 05:50:53 PM »

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm
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gwalker314
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2009, 12:09:17 AM »

Nice article Michael. As I am getting setup for my 1st hive I have been reading any and everything I can find. Many times I became alittle discourged by all the negative issues beekeepers seem to have, such as mites, small hive beetles, foul brood, and the list goes on. When I read the 4 simple steps it made a lot of sense to me. I believe that is the route I am going to follow. I like the idea of natural beekeeping. I think now if I start off the natural way it will be more rewarding for me and the bees. I don't know if it will make the honey surplus any different, But I wasn't going to quit my day job to sell honey anyway.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.
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Jim 134
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2009, 06:13:04 AM »

Doug...

  The idea behind spacing the hives is to keep the bees from transferring pests, disease, sevin dust that one hive found but the other didn't by a bee that went to the wrong hive. I know the guard bees are suppose to check each bee, but with chemical treatments what do they smell. The distance apart probably can be a minimun of 5 feet. I will probably place mine around 100 ft since I have 20 acres to work with. This brings up another point, my hives "will not be painted white". Have you tried to look at something white in the bright sunshine. I don't know how bees see, but I think a soft green or blue would be better. I'll let you know how they act.


 
   Guard bees do not check drones. Hope you have a good time walking



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« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 05:48:11 PM by Jim 134 » Logged

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