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Author Topic: Hygenic Stock with Drone comb removal and splits for varroa.  (Read 1427 times)
Kamon Reynolds
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« on: January 31, 2014, 01:17:32 PM »

The above is what I have been using for years to avoid using chemical treatments in my hives. I have been very blessed to have stock that is very resistent, but by no mean immune to varroa when ran as a strong colony all year long without some management.

When I did attempt to run a honey production colony in the more old fashion way (without any treatment or management) they typically would not die but would come out of winter weakened as to only secure a small crop (if any) the following season.

After seeing so many of my fall splits thrive better in the spring than my larger colonies (and also being young guy of 25 who wants to buck the system)
I decided in 08 I need to change strategies.

Research has been done that a varroa mite in a northern climate can be 12 mites by late fall. In my area I would assume it would be much higher. In locations where the bees rear brood longer they would be even greater.

Since we know that not only does varroa reproduce 3-4 times faster in drone comb but that they also prefer it, i started in 2008 drone trapping. Doing this to the first available drones according to the above stated numbers can give our hygenic bees a big jump.

I don't have not perform (yet) research data for the following.... but if say in the first drone comb removal one was to catch 500 mites (I have counted this and it was much higher) and in my area those could turn into 18 each by the end of the season. That is 9000 mites at the end of the season my bees wont have to deal with and the viruses they promote. Of course the later trappings are important but the mites don't have as long to multiply as the first captured in the drone comb.

Doing this multiple times in the early part of the season hits varroa hard early. Another reason to do this is that varroa spreads viruses thru the hive. (this is why I don't like a single fall treatment the populations are already high and they are stressing the bees.

Even if you choose to treat in the fall why not give you bees less stressors thru the season?

The combo of drone comb removal, hygenic bees that pull infested brood and groom one another really add up over the season.

Then I bring into play what I think solidifies the life of the colony. Splitting.

I personally think every colony needs split once a year. Its like a cow having a calf its natural.

This provides a brood break and a seperation of the mite populations while also giving the beekeeper some insurance. If you lose one you are still where you were before. I raise queen cells for this purpose, but buying mated queens from a proven hygenic stock will do.

Sometimes I will divide up to 9 times per hive. Having an average of 7 successful queen returns. (the ones that don't take get recombined)

For me personally using all the above methods means that both "often" make it thru winter. This of course offers additional income thru the sell of bees, or a increase for that beekeeper who enough bees is just never enough.

Like I said this can also be coupled with treatments if the beekeeping wants to have that as back up.

As beekeepers that have many colonies we must use only that stock which diplays hardiness against the mite. Otherwise we are hurting ourselves, the bee, and the future generations of beekeepers in the future.



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Kamon Reynolds.   

To bee or not to bee? What a stupid question........
Joe D
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2014, 07:55:14 PM »

Thanks for the reminder, I have been going to get some drone foundation to put in hives but keep forgetting to.



Joe
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T Beek
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2014, 08:24:25 AM »

Thanks for the post Kamon!  Seems we practice some similar methods.

Joe D;  no need to purchase drone comb, just remove those drone filled frames found in the early Spring.   Sure you'll also loose some worker brood too, but they'll build back up quick.  The objective as Kamon points out is to break the mite cycle.  Just remove one or two frames (replace with empties, leave no voids), those with the most drone brood, freeze them for a couple days, thaw them out and put them back in.  Your bees will feast on the protein and your queen will fill the cells again once cleaned up and your varroa count will be lessoned considerably.

Since 2007 I've purchased 'treatment free' bees from BeeWeaver.  My current living colonies are all BeeWeaver survivors. 

The one time since 2007 that I bought' treated' bees…they all died before Spring (I did not treat).  They also brought a varroa explosion to my yard.  Before the treated bees arrived I had minimal varroa issues.  After I introduced them I had issues for 2-3 years, which has since leveled off thankfully. 

I also agree with regular splitting, or artificially creating a perceived swarm to interrupt the mite cycle (the Q-less half of the split usually creates the best "comb" honey), but generally stop splitting by July 4th or so (our first killing frost comes by end of September). 

Honey has never been our primary objective….yet we seem to harvest more than we can ever use……. cool  Our honey loving friends and family LOVE us  laugh…..and I also agree….there's real $$$ (and less fussing) in selling hardy 'local' Queens and/or NUCs…..
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"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."
Joe D
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2014, 10:06:42 PM »

T, I guess I lucked out when I bought my hives.  The old beek that had had them treated.  He had got down with cancer one spring and died the next Feb.  His hives had no treatment the year he got sick or the year the died.  When I found out about the bees and his daughter and I got together on price etc, I got them in Dec.  I am not sure how many he had but there was three still going good.  Brood chambers were in bad shape, I replaced those, went from single to double deeps.  The first year I made almost as much with the honey I sold, as I paid for the hives.  It was less than 100 dollars from what I had in the three hives.  These hives had made it with no one taking care of them.  They had a good amount of SHB's, I have got and kept down their  numbers.  I haven't treated for mites at all going on four years.  I have bought a few queens.  The hives were a mix of Hygienic, and other bees.  I  had 1 hive that lost their queen, I got a Cordovan to replace her.  The next year I replaced another hives queen, couldn't find a Cordovan so got a Russian.  I usually feed under a gal of sugar syrup per hive a year, try to leave more than enough honey for them.  OK got to rambling.  Good luck to all with your bees.


Joe
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10framer
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2014, 09:37:42 PM »

i haven't tried the drone brood trick but i do think that brood breaks are important.  i like doing splits but i also like forcing the bees to become nectar bound during the fall flow.  with the long winters up north that's probably not a good plan but down here the bees have time to fire back up brood rearing during october and early november.  so you get a break when the mite population would normally be peaking and you have a lot of young bees going into december and january.
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SueCT
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 10:58:54 PM »

Thought some of you might be interested in this presentation on OTS Queen Rearing and treatment-free beekeeping that I found online.  I'm new here and can't post a direct link to the YouTube video, but if you go to the site and search for "MelDisselkoen Speaks on OTS Queen Rearing and Miticide-Free Beekeeping", you should find it.  Sheesh - direct link would be so much easier!  Wink

This topic is fascinating to me and makes such sense when discussing treatment-free beekeeping.  The question in my mind, as a new beekeeper with very limited room on our property, is how you manage the splits?  I wouldn't have room to keep more than maybe 3-4 hives at any time (even that is a stretch - we're starting out with two hives this year).  Maybe have a couple of Nucs that I could sell to a beek who is in the business of selling packages/nucs/queens?  Would a beek in that position even want bees that he hadn't had a hand in managing?
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