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Author Topic: vsh queens....the miracle cure or snake oil?  (Read 2232 times)
10framer
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« on: February 01, 2013, 10:03:52 AM »

i searched the forum and only found 4 threads on vsh.  i was really surprised i wasn't overwhelmed with information.
it's been a while, what does everyone think?  does everyone accept that the bees do what they are supposed to do or is it more hype than anything?
every hive i have was sold to me with queens with "glenn" breeding behind them.  i can only assume it's true.  all the queens but one look pretty similar in size and color.
the one that stands out looks like what harrell and sons italian breeder queens looked like in the 80's.  it's much larger than the rest and more orang than yellow. 
i'm going to keep a close eye on that hive.  if they seem to hold the mites off i'm going to raise my late season queens from her eggs.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2013, 01:29:09 PM »

I wouldn't call it "snake oil".  I'm sure the breeders think it's very important.  I think they are "straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel".
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Michael Bush
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10framer
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2013, 02:39:21 PM »

I wouldn't call it "snake oil".  I'm sure the breeders think it's very important.  I think they are "straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel".

i've never heard that one before.  i want to believe that selective breeding is part of the answer to the varroa problems.
the feral hives i worked with in the 90's had way more mites than any bees i've been looking at recently so something has changed.
is it hygiene traits only?  not sure. 
could ahb genes in the pool be a possibility?  i could believe that.  the average hive seems a tad more defensive than i remember from my younger days.
or is it just a matter of nature has thinned the weak ones from the herd? 
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10framer
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2013, 09:32:50 AM »

i've decided this topic must be taboo and michael bush is a rebel.
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goatmanbees
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2013, 10:54:59 AM »

I have 4 hives of vsh bees.  They haven't been treated for mites in the two years that I've had them.  I have kept a close eye.  No problems that I've seen. Some mites on the bb but not as bad as my other hives.  Nothing in the drone brood.  None on the bees that I've seen from close up pictures of bees on the frames.

Btw---The vsh bees have the nastiest sting of any of my bees--burns bad!!!

Bill
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BjornBee
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2013, 11:27:48 AM »

10framer,

It is a bit confusing huh? Some mass producing queen operations claim that "A queen is a queen is a queen". Then you have some who promote certain hives as their answer to problems. Others promote a certain cell size. Some sell books, talk on the "academia" lecture circuit, all suggesting they have the answer.

In the end, very few people are actually out there doing selective breeding.

So you ask if VSH queens are a miracle cure. Hmmm. Perhaps a bad choice of words. If you are looking for that miracle cure, whether it be a queen, hive, comb, or any other ideology, those mentioned in my first paragraph are jumping up and down with glee. Beekeepers looking for that magic bullet, that one cure all answer to mites and other problems, are the very same crowd that makes others so popular.

Your questions asked about one specific type queen. So the answer perhaps should explain that all queens are not created equal.

As an example, I harped for years about the poor genetics being brought over in packages flooding the U.S. industry as bees were being imported. I was openly challenged and denigrated in bee meetings as some large operators said that these queen were all the same. Very few could even muster up the energy to say much, since "genetics" did not fit their "ideology" since they have already concluded that their way of beekeeping is best, regardless of any gentic breeding efforts. A real shame.

But read this: http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?paper=EC12350

Now we are told that these bees had near no mite resistance at all. Read the details and see how they compared to Russians. Huge differences. While vsh was not part of the study, it should be clear that there are huge differences in queens, strains, and breeding efforts.

You are asking a question, and getting replies by folks that either are not breeders, or are making their money in other "snake oil" approaches. And by those that have dismissed genetics as being important.

I have folks contact me every year and ask about buying queens since they heard about my operation and have decided not to treat anymore. Somehow they got the impression that if they buy a particular queen, that all their issues will go away. I usually laugh.

Beekeepers seeking the "miracle cure" is why we have so much disinformation in the industry, promoted and propagated by those selling you a pipe dream.

Buy the best queen you can. It does make a difference. Then concentrate on a solid IPM approach. Genetics, equipment options, and management, make up the three prong approach to mite control that is worth achieving.

I think the bee industry is the only one I can think of that denigrates breeding efforts and dismisses genetics as a cure. And I am amazed that some out there talking up their own snake oil, can even be in the same room giving lectures along side some of the breeders trying to make a difference.

Quit looking for a miracle cure. They are many. There are many out there being offered. But you will be disappointed.

« Last Edit: February 02, 2013, 11:51:11 AM by BjornBee » Logged

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10framer
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2013, 12:06:48 PM »

bjorn, what i'm looking for is experience from people that have used them next to other bees. 
i've got two on order and at the present i have six colonies.  my goal is to get to between 12 and 20 through splits by june.
at that point i intend to pick two queens other than the two vsh queens to raise queens to start some nucs with.  then next spring i will compare and contrast all of this and pick 2 queens (could be the same two as this year and this time the vsh queens can be one of the picks) again and use them for all of next year splits which will be moved to a second yard.  the following year the same process applies to both yards (two queens each). 
i have a plan that doesn't involve a miracle.  it involves a lot of work, observation and most likely a great deal of luck in the end.  i'm just trying to see if investing in vsh stock is really worth the trouble. 
i'm committed to a couple so i can make my own observations but if several people say yes and there are few no's i'll buy more than two.  if several people say no and only a few say yes i'll won't really consider them anymore.
i intend to build up fast and am prepared to lose all my investment and start over if that's what it takes to not put chemicals in my hives.  nature usually finds a way and i'm just wondering if i can speed her up a little.
oh, my point is that you may have misunderstood what i was looking for here.  sorry about the rant but maybe it will help some people open up to the topic a little more.   
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10framer
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2013, 12:12:55 PM »

goatman, i took a hit in the lower eyelid earlier this week.  it went in deep and i couldn't scrape it out so i just decided to squeeze and pulled. 
long story short i got the entire venom load.  wasn't bad until about 3 hours later.  then it ached like a black eye and there was a little swelling.
on a side note, what kind of goats do you have (i'm assuming you do).  spanish goats and maybe boer goats are next on my list of livestock. 
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Buzzen
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2013, 02:12:23 PM »

I'm just a newby going into my 3rd year this spring.  It seems to me you have the right attitude going into this.  The only thing I would say is don't put too much stock in what others tell you. Every beekeeper has their way of doing things in their specific area.  Maybe the vsh queens will thrive with your location, flora, and style while failing miserably at your neighbors.  Seems like a crapshoot to me.  I'm just trying to find what works for ME  where I am located and that is going to take time and experimentation. I lost one hive last fall and will probably lose another before winter is over.  So I start this spring with one hive and another nuc/queen from somewhere. Maybe I should try the vsh, who knows.  I wish you good luck and I hope they work well for you!
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10framer
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2013, 02:34:13 PM »

I'm just a newby going into my 3rd year this spring.  It seems to me you have the right attitude going into this.  The only thing I would say is don't put too much stock in what others tell you. Every beekeeper has their way of doing things in their specific area.  Maybe the vsh queens will thrive with your location, flora, and style while failing miserably at your neighbors.  Seems like a crapshoot to me.  I'm just trying to find what works for ME  where I am located and that is going to take time and experimentation. I lost one hive last fall and will probably lose another before winter is over.  So I start this spring with one hive and another nuc/queen from somewhere. Maybe I should try the vsh, who knows.  I wish you good luck and I hope they work well for you!

i don't think it will hurt anything to have them in the mix.  i got out of beekeeping around 2002 if i remember right and i had worked with all wild stock and did ok.
i wasn't an internet junkie back then and went into beekeeping like we did it in good old days and i did pretty good for a few years.  i still had hives going after 4 or 5 years of no treatment when i got out but i was losing every hive i put in one yard every year.  i was blaming pesticides but now think it was hive beetle combined with varroa. 
for now i'm planning on working with the stock i have and i'll probably move to foundationless and then work into all 8 frame equipment.  i have seen that hive beetles are definitely opportunists when a hive has too much room for it's population (also most wild colonies i've seen didn't build several combs wide, they tended more toward fewer longer combs and expanded upward over time).
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goatmanbees
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2013, 10:17:34 PM »

I had an eyelid sting last year from a vsh girl. I ended up in the ER. Didn't have any breathing trouble, just full blown body itch.  Plenty of stings since with no problems. Getting stung in the face is a real problem for me.

I don't have goats.  The name is in reference to Pan.  The protector of shepherds, fields and all things wild(including bees).
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10framer
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2013, 10:47:31 PM »

got ya.  do you play the pipes?
i'm very tolerant of bee venom.  i only wear a veil with jeans and a tee shirt (i'm a believer when it comes to venom easing up arthritis, so i welcome a few stings). 
there used to be a guy that would call me in if he was doing "hot" removals (looking back i guess i was a specialist).  when i was young we would work hundreds of hives in a day sometimes and being stung dozens of times was just part of the job. re-queening in august was always when you took the most stings.  the field bees were all sitting there with nothing to do and you had to go through 20 frames of them to find the queen.
i've quit working with bees for years on end twice in my life and that first sting is always scary.  i've been told that if you have been stung a lot then don't get stung for a long time you can develop severe allergies (don't know if it's true) and there is  history of insect sting allergies in my family. 
i keep benadryl with me just in case.  if you've had reactions you should definitely have some around.
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goatmanbees
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2013, 10:58:57 PM »

I have benadryl and epi-pens with me all the time in the summer.

About 10 miles from my house is a historical sign marking the first bee sting death in the americas.
Freaks me out a bit!!!
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10framer
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2013, 11:16:59 PM »

if i needed an epi kit i think i'd have to consider a different hobby.
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goatmanbees
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2013, 11:25:13 PM »

That reaction from the sting to the eye had me all worked up!!!

Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!!!!!
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10framer
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2013, 11:34:29 PM »

can't be too careful.
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tefer2
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2013, 08:13:30 AM »

10framer, here is some reading for you!
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?277652-VSH-Breeding
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10framer
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2013, 09:00:15 AM »

thanks tefer.  that's pretty helpful and those guys were pretty much coming to the conclusion i expected.
i'm going to be moving some nucs into ten frame equipment this week and there is one queen in that group that i have high hopes for more because of her size and color and the color of her workers.  there is another hive i have that uses a ton of propolis and the bees have honey to spare this late in the season as well as a lot of capped brood (last week, probably bees now).  i went through the entire hive and found two beetles last week (i'm going to split this hive early and see if the bees in the new equipment are able to hold off the beetles long enough to glue up all the hiding places).  i have very high hopes for that queen as breeding stock but i may put her on drone comb and hope her boys are dominant breeders.  i have one neighbor with a couple of hives close by but i think they died out in the fall.  i had ten acres of goldenrod on the fall and never saw a bee working it until i brought mine in.  i'm hoping i'm in a somewhat closed gene pool.
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tefer2
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2013, 09:31:36 AM »

Hanging some swarm traps will tell you if outside bees are around your home yard.
Bee hives have a way of attracting more bees to a location.
If I were in your climate, I'd be looking for some Pol-line queens from the bee lab. in Baton Rouge
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10framer
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2013, 09:40:19 AM »

i haven't really started reading about pol-line bees yet.  my understanding is they are bred to handle the stress of migratory beekeeping more than anything but that's a good idea since la. is somewhat similar to ga.  florida queens interest me as well.
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