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Author Topic: Varroa Resistance Question  (Read 3534 times)

Offline ziffabeek

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Varroa Resistance Question
« on: December 22, 2010, 06:36:04 PM »
I was wondering, can a hive develop resistance to varroa over time?

I have one hive (for now, trying to get another).  I treated for varroa last spring using apiguard (in reaction to evident mites) and it was pretty successful for the summer.  I did a board count in September and only saw about 10-15 mites.  I was ecstatic.  Then I was lazy and didn't do a repeat count.  Then it got cold.  Then I started seeing ratty wings and stunted abdomens in front of the hive :(.  I just did another board count (I guess it's been in for about a week) and I can tell exactly where my cluster is by the PLETHORA of mites on one corner of the board. :(  Bummer. I say there is at least 20-25 mites per little box.

So, it's been cold and I'm hoping there's been a brood break.  It is supposed to be in the 50s for the next 2 days, so I was going to attempt a powder sugar treatment and hope that helps.  I'm guessing I"m probably going to have to treat again in spring if I want to keep this hive alive.

But my question is, I really want to go natural, but I'm thinking that if my hive isn't resistant, it's never going to be and I will always have to treat for mites.  Do you think they can grow resistance?  Would you need to buy a resistant queen?  I'm pondering this because I was hoping to do a split in the spring (they looked sooo healthy in September and October I was really confident I could and their numbers still look good as far as I can tell) but I don't know the point of splitting a non-resistant hive if I am aiming to eventually be treatment free on natural cell.

Any (and all) thoughts?

Thanks and love,
ziffa

Offline AllenF

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2010, 08:34:08 PM »
The hive will develop resistance, but it will take many generations to do that.   You have to breed it in them.   Letting the ones without resistance die out.  Letting the survivors reproduce and hopefully creating more resistant bees to varroa.      You waited a little late to treat.   How are the numbers of the bees in the hive?   If numbers are low, they will not be able to make it through the winter.   

Offline ziffabeek

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2010, 08:47:37 PM »
The numbers are good and there are still a lot of healthy, normal looking bees.  I think they'll make it.  I'm just wondering if you think they'll grow resistance without introducing a new queen.  I guess the only way to find out is to let them be and risk the loss. :(  I guess I have a few months to make the decision, if nature doesn't make it for me.

love,
ziffa

Offline AllenF

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 08:55:01 PM »
It is going to turn cold again this weekend (snow?).   They will freeze out in February or March more than any other month here.   Just keep an eye on their food but if the numbers are low, they will freeze even sitting on capped honey (or they just can not get to the capped honey).

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2010, 09:20:05 PM »
I didn't find it had anything to do with the bees...

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Offline rdy-b

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2010, 10:16:19 PM »
  you have to keep one thing in mind when you talk about resistance-yes
some bees will TOLERATE a mite load better than others for many reasons
but heres the thing-the viruses are changing and mutating -just like the flu
so even if they overcome the initial strain of viruses -it has changed and is
putting viruses pressure on immune systems of the bees-many reasons why and how this happens
but if you lesson mite pressure or get rid of it -you will lesson virus pressure  --RDY-B

Offline annette

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 10:31:05 PM »
I still have my original hive from 2006 and they got sick on me the second year I had them. They were throwing out sick bees like crazy and the bees were crawling all over the ground. I thought I would lose this hive, but they ended up coming back even stronger. I never treat my hives and I stopped counting mites. I am not saying this is for everyone, but somehow it is working for me at the moment.

I believe the bees have to live with the pathogens and develop strength with them. Then those hives that make it can be used to make splits.

I have been very lucky so far. My biggest problem is pesticide poisoning.

Offline rdy-b

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 10:43:44 PM »
  what about powdered sugar and requeening-isnt this a treatment for the colony- :) RDY-B

Offline hankdog1

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2010, 01:09:12 AM »
Here is a thought bees that i have that develop to live with the mites and other pathogens are ones that have raised their own queen and mated with feral drones in the area.  No treatments and they seem to do better vs. high dollar queens.  So my ansewer to you is get out and get some feral swarms let the bees decide when they need a new queen and let them raise her.  Seems kinda stupid but mother nature knows a lot more about this sorta thing then us beekeepers.
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Offline rdy-b

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2010, 02:31:53 AM »
Here is a thought bees that i have that develop to live with the mites and other pathogens are ones that have raised their own queen and mated with feral drones in the area.  No treatments and they seem to do better vs. high dollar queens.  So my ansewer to you is get out and get some feral swarms let the bees decide when they need a new queen and let them raise her.  Seems kinda stupid but mother nature knows a lot more about this sorta thing then us beekeepers.
 sounds great from a recreational point of view but i would not bet the farm on it-  :lol: not to mention supply a network of operations so complex that it supports one third of the nations food suply-unless you like rice- ;)  but yes i under stand what you are saying- its just that there is a bigger picture-RDY-B

Offline T Beek

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2010, 07:21:32 AM »
If you want them "mite resistant" you must "stop treating for mites" in order to allow bees to develope such resistance.

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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2010, 08:18:52 AM »
If you want them "mite resistant" you must "stop treating for mites" in order to allow bees to develope such resistance.

thomas

There is much to swallow from all the comments.

What does "stop treatments" mean? What about "Doing nothing"? Not treating with chemicals...what is that? Is it as one person suggested "letting the weak just die"?

I do not treat when someone is talking about mite chemical treatments. But that only goes as far as "not treating" when it comes to applying chemicals. But do I "treat"? Yes. I manage and influence the health of my bees in many ways. And they all would be considered a "treatment".

I influence where they sit (sun versus shade)
I influence what equipment they use (Screened bottom board)
I influence how often they get a new queen (Feral colonies requeen almost EVERY year)
I influence genetics by keeping more bees in some areas that what they would in nature.
I expand, contract, and change the brood chamber to benefit me, effecting the brood cycle and mite production.
I keep bees in weak r-value hives that may need additional management to optimize survival chances.
I effect the bees in how they draw comb.
I keep bees in areas they may not otherwise survive, thrive, select, or prosper.

I do not like when people suggest "No treatments" is little more doing nothing and letting the weak die. I never plan on letting any hives die. I manage my hives and part of my IPM is actively culling out the weak myself, by requeening, combining, etc. Yes, it is easy to manage mite IPM. And much harder to manage viral and other IPM areas.

While I allow mother nature to cull out the weakest in winter, it does mean doing nothing. It means that there are bee issues that I could not control even if I wanted. I think we can select for traits beneficial for regional acclimation, and a hands off approach for these traits is one best taken.

But allowing bees to just die out due to mite issues is for what purpose? I would rather promote the raising of better queens, requeening those hives failing to handle mites, and taking an active role in what continues, what is eliminated, etc.

It's not about just standing back and allowing hives to die.

Do I put chemicals in my hives that do nothing but help perpetuate weak genetics? No. But do I "treat" my bees and take an active approach in IPM to achieve certain goals and allow the bees to survive? You bet.

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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2010, 08:34:56 AM »
 what about powdered sugar and requeening-isnt this a treatment for the colony- :) RDY-B

Powdered sugar...sure. Your action is for a desired result. One that the bees or mites would not of been impacted from without the beekeeper's action.

requeening...I guess one could argue on pure semantics that you as the beekeeper is requeening to achieve a desired result, to which mite reduction is being effected.

But I see it more as a management task. One that we try as beekeepers try to control to optimize our results with honey production, etc. We super at certain times of the year, and this alone may effect to some degree the natural requeening of the colonies.

If left to their own, feral colonies and even managed hives, will swarm almost each and every year. It is natures way to 1) Perpetuate their species. 2) Requeen existing hives with first year queens, giving them the best chances for survival. (The old queen has little chance (10-20%) of perpetuating further as new colonies survive on a very low rate through the first winter.)

So of course we super, expand the brood chamber and effect this natural requeening of the hive. So I see requeening later in the season accomplishes two things. 1) Corrects the missing first year queen that would of normally been in the colony anyways. Allowing the colony the best chance to survive the next season. 2) Allows you as the beekeeper to select from within the "bell curve" of genetic probability, and concentrate on selecting those traits that we desire. Is that "treating", I guess that could be considered treating if you really see it that way. We are doing what nature would do anyways. Just slightly different. Nature selects from creating the full bell curve of output, then selects on survival. We select from within the bell curve based on criteria....hopefully the right ones.
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Offline ziffabeek

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2010, 10:52:08 AM »
Hmm.  Great thoughts to ponder.

I guess for me, I don't see powder-sugar as treatment, I mainly mean trying to stay away from chemicals.  Of course, I would rather not have to do anything, but powder sugar seems less invasive.  I understand what you mean about it being a treatment, though vs. all natural.  I guess I never thought of it like that before.

I live in the city, and feral swarms are not very common.  We get some swarms in the summer, but they are mostly from other backyard beeks.  I would love to find a feral swarm, but I don't think I can count on that to grow or improve my "yard" (heh.)

I guess i'm leaning towards a middle of the road.  I'll probably sugar them and hope to knock the numbers down.  Then re-assess in February March.  I'm pretty sure they made themselves a new queen this year, though I missed it at the time. My bees have changed almost entirely from fat yellow to small black bees, so I'm guessing there's a russian hive somewhere around me.  Of course these could have come with my original queen, but she would be going on 3 years now so. . . I might have to think about re-queening this summer if I can afford and find a good queen (Maybe a Bush Farms small cell queen ;D??)

Michael, I read your page and maybe it's because I haven't finished my first cup of coffee, but .. . ow.  I like to think I'm kind of smart, but that page kind of boggled me.  But that's ok, I'll re-read it later and hope more comes through :D.  It seems that you are saying that small cell will eliminate or reduce the issue of varroa but that people dismiss it in their striving for varroa resistance.  I have started trying to introduce foundationless frames into my hive, but it seems the bees still build pretty big cells in it.  Sometimes even bigger than the foundation cells. Do you have a link about transitioning your hive to natural cell?  Is there something I should be doing to help them build smaller cells? Or again,  is it just a natural selection and they either will or won't?

Thanks everybody for the wonderful posts.  I certainly have a lot to think about!

I do have one last question (of course)  do you think if I sugar them in 53 degree weather it is too disruptive or stressful for them right now?  It is supposed to be 50s today and tomorrow, but then get really cold again.  I can't decide if I should grab this window or let them bee.

Thanks again!

love,
ziffa


Offline annette

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2010, 12:32:18 PM »
Be careful about that. I did powder sugar dust them once when it was 50 and they were very lethargic and when the sugar covered them, they just rolled around in it and could not fly to get the sugar off of them. It was horrible to watch and I ended up losing this good hive.

I know that some species of honey bees can fly ok in 50, but not mine.

Offline BjornBee

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2010, 01:40:57 PM »
Be careful about that. I did powder sugar dust them once when it was 50 and they were very lethargic and when the sugar covered them, they just rolled around in it and could not fly to get the sugar off of them. It was horrible to watch and I ended up losing this good hive.

I know that some species of honey bees can fly ok in 50, but not mine.

annette,
Are you sure that white powder was really sugar...  :roll:

Maybe you got the bags mixed.  :shock:
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Offline wd

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2010, 01:45:16 PM »
others sell small cell foundation too
https://www.dadant.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=23_38&sort=2a&page=3

I don't think ahb care what size the cell is

Offline ziffabeek

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2010, 04:14:26 PM »
Thanks Annette, that was what I was worried about.  Think I'll leave em tucked in.  Thanks for the link wd.  And thanks again all, for the comments!

Merry Christmas everybody!
love,
ziffa

Offline nella

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2010, 04:54:09 PM »
annette,
Are you sure that white powder was really sugar...  :roll:

Maybe you got the bags mixed.  :shock:
[/quote]

Beejorn, bee careful, you of all people knows what happens when a drone messes around with a queen! :shock:

Offline annette

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Re: Varroa Resistance Question
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2010, 11:24:37 PM »
Be careful about that. I did powder sugar dust them once when it was 50 and they were very lethargic and when the sugar covered them, they just rolled around in it and could not fly to get the sugar off of them. It was horrible to watch and I ended up losing this good hive.

I know that some species of honey bees can fly ok in 50, but not mine.

annette,
Are you sure that white powder was really sugar...  :roll:

Maybe you got the bags mixed.  :shock:
:shock: :shock: