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Author Topic: Feral hives and Varroa Mites  (Read 1757 times)
greenbtree
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« on: August 22, 2010, 04:45:44 PM »

So, I am wondering, how much sign of Varroa Mites do people see in feral hives?  I just did my third cutout and it was a biggie - I would think that from what the owner said and the various color changes in the comb that it would be at least three years old.  Yet in none of the three I have done have I seen any Varroa.  There are always some larva that get ripped out of the cells in the process and I always take the opportunity to check them for mites.  I have yet to find ONE.

JC
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 05:27:39 PM »

I believe that most feral hives have the same amount of varroa mites as hives beekeepers have that are not treated.  On average.   That is why there are not as many feral hives around any more.  Some are building better resistance, but the odds are that they will fail are still great.   
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JP
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 11:10:00 PM »

Sorry Allen but I couldn't disagree with you more, Local survivor stock is most desired by many bee keepers, myself included.

All of my colonies are from cut outs and swarms. I don't have varroa issues and I don't medicate.

I see some varroa now and again on drone larvae not many on workers from feral colonies.


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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2010, 04:30:16 AM »

>Yet in none of the three I have done have I seen any Varroa.

That is my experience.  They have some, but not much.  I think it's the cell size.
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Michael Bush
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greenbtree
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2010, 12:51:02 PM »

I'm up to 8 hives with the one I just did and since I got THREE DEEPS full of brood rubberbanded into frames with this one I am considering continuing to yet them build natural comb throughout their brood boxes - give them empty frames with starter strips.  Set up half my hives this way from now on and see what happens.

Question - if bees have natural or small cell in their brood areas, will they build out and fill large cells in the honey supers?  I would like to avoid crush and strain in I can (After all, I have this nice shiny extractor...)

JC
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2010, 12:31:38 AM »

>Question - if bees have natural or small cell in their brood areas, will they build out and fill large cells in the honey supers?

Yes.

>  I would like to avoid crush and strain in I can (After all, I have this nice shiny extractor...)

You can extract foundationless fine.  I do it all the time.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm#extract
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hankdog1
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 01:16:23 AM »

Been my experience that feral bees or queens that have been bred to feral drones in the local area don't have any issues to amount to anything with varroa.  I don't treat because i look at it this way bees have survived millions of years by adapting to their environment.  Also i wouldn't say there aren't as many feral colonies out there because of varroa or any other pest other then man.  Two factors come into play for the decline in feral colonies one is that there just aren't as many beekeepers as there used to be.  Back 20 years ago seemed like everyone around here had a hive or two in their back yard.  Secondly you have loggers who will cut down anything like a 200 year old hollow tree filled with bees.  So anyways in my rambling to answer your question i don't believe that varroa are a factor in feral colonies or colonies with feral genetics.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 07:18:06 AM »

greenbtree,

Over the past many years, much has been made about feral bees, and the genetics they have. In the past, it was assumed that ferals were some magical long lost strain of the German black bee, some long lived colony in some farmers barn, or some feral colony at the edge of town always seemly described as a remote location.

Feral colonies got wiped out just like managed bees. And if you understand that most colonies of bees are within a certain range of managed colonies, this only seemed reasonable. If you draw on a map a ten mile circle around every managed colony of bees, you would see that in most areas, little places are not influenced by beekeepers hives. And those hives influence the local feral genetics just as much as ferals influence managed hives. The further away you get from civilization, the less feral colonies there are. In deep woods and isolated areas away from farming and other activities, there is little forage for bees to survive after the spring trees. I did three years of feral research and was amazed in how few actual bee hives are located in isolated areas.

With that being said, I think most swarms and cutouts are bees directly from managed hives. (There are only two known areas in the midwest that have any German black bee genetics.) The rest are just castaways from beekeepers hives and these are the bees that have repopulated most feral populations.

But are they any better? I would say yes. If a colony is strong enough to survive winter, and then  swarm in the spring, and factoring in the fact that winter does cull out the weakest, then it only reasons that these are at least bees better than what you get in the standard package. So in the past 20 years, many swarms have been cast off from at least the better half of managed hives, and then culled further in nature, to the point that they are better than what you can buy in most places.

The problem is the flooding of most areas with tens of thousands of packages each spring. And those hives surviving that nature would of killed off if not for the beekeeper treating. These situations keep the bee pool at a constant, and it is hard to see overall improvement. So is that swarm from good local feral genetics or just a first generation daughter from some migratory beekeeper or a crappy package installed last year and fed and babied into swarming the next spring that the bees should of never seen to begin with?

We need more beekeepers and bee associations raising queens and producing local nucs. One of the problems I have in this state, is the past president, the current president, as well as about every migratory beekeeper, are the biggest shippers and sellers of packages. I realize that we need packages due to a shortage of northern queens and nucs utilizing local genetics, but it the lack of support from these other people in doing ANYTHING connected to queen and nuc production that is the big disappointment. And these are the people that control and influence what goes on in the state association and many county clubs.

Individuals and bee associations should have queen rearing programs. And every beekeeper should be at least raising some of their own queens.

I actually think this type conversation has evolved into a more reasonable discussion, beyond those discussion in the past that centered on every beekeeper thinking because they found a colony in a tree, that it must be of superior stock. And if they were black, they must be long lost black German bees. It's kind of like beekeepers calling smallcell "natural cell" a few years back. Today, you can see a shift in the idea that foundationless systems are natural, and smallcell is just another sized cell that bees are forced to unnaturally build. 
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greenbtree
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2010, 01:01:51 PM »

Well heck, if you can extract off foundationless comb, I think I have bought my last sheet of foundation.

My plan is to try to keep hands off - to collect as many swarms and colonies as I can and see what makes it and what doesn't.  I will feed some sugar water to hives that got started late, but that's about it.  I have a note book that I am keeping track of who's who, when I collected them, where, conditions, etc.

I agree that probably every hive I have is off a domestic hive within one or two generations, but I agree that their survival is still of value.  I am always amazed of the attitude of the PTBs (Powers That Be) on feral hives.  The massive one that I just did in a guy's empty house is a case in point.  He called everyone he could think off - the local Ag office, the local University (Ag), animal control - and they all told him to just exterminate it.  Thank goodness he thought of the extra step of checking the internet.  No wonder bees in this country are in trouble.

My teenage son actually does want to raise queens and start and sell nucs - he even has the queen rearing stuff already.  We are hoping to do that next year.  I will not name my bees something impressive sounding and meaningless like superbees, they will be "locally produced" only.  Hopefully, people will see the value in that.

JC
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"Rise again, rise again - though your heart it be broken, or life about to end.  No matter what you've lost, be it a home, a love, a friend, like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again!"
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