Hive survival?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Crofter, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Have any of the folks who peruse a lot of the forums any kind of an idea of what the overall picture is of hive survival this winter? Any figures on difference between hives that had mite treatments or not. I am thinking that conditions in the fall that influence the production of suitable numbers of young healthy winter bees is more important than overall numbers or heavy stores of food. Thoughts?
     
  2. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    Along the lines of your question, I'd be interested to know the survival rate for fourth year treatment free colonies. Researchers have written that it may take three or four years for mites to kill a colony. Treatment free for three years seems easy in that light. I'm just curious, don't mean to hijack your thread or provoke a philosophical confrontation. :)
     

  3. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Lburu; I agree with not rehashing things based mainly on personal conviction. I liked the line of that TV investigator Columbo who used to say "The facts, ma'am (or sir), just the facts"

    I think it is rather hard to gather facts that have not been shaped somewhat either innocently or with agenda. Just the idea of what is definitely a four year survivor hive or what is partially or fully a re occupation is in itself hard to establish in many cases. I think we can only go on collected trend data. Here in northern ontario the length of winter appears pretty hard on hives that go into it with almost any level of mite infestation. One of the people I meet and buy from was a long time keeper and a lot of years provincial bee inspector. He would agree with the notion that all the effects of mite predation can take three years to tally up totally. Three years was his figure.

    I raked a lot of dead bees off the bottom and lots were flying out and perishing a bit earlier. That has dropped a way off recently and I think they are starting to raise some brood. I have seen the figure of 140 days max be life span for workers that have not foraged; the so called winter bees, otherwise six or eight weeks. With our length of winters maybe it is possible that even the winter bees have to raise their replacements like on a space journey to get to the destination. That is all conjecture on my part.

    What I think is not conjecture is that any resident mites in the winter hive are dealing with their own desperate need for new brood host to enable their own life cycle. I believe they have a statue of time limitations as well. The first small batches of brood are very much a center shot.

    Our ag reps are recommending much lower mite levels than they were a few years ago. Especially important to have mite levels down during the fall brooding and backfilling time. (the crucial winter bees perhaps)
    Any how that is the very unscientific hunch I am entertaining and wondered if it mesh with others experience in colder areas.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie Active Member

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    A big issue here is this- what constitutes a 'four year old surviving hive', for example?
    Is it just the location of the hive boxes that define the 'hive'?
    If that hive had a superceded queen sometime during that 4 years, isn't it a new colony?
    If that same hive had the old queen removed to a split or in a swarm, isn't that also a 'new colony' in the boxes?
    Or are we talking about the same one queen for 4 years in the same boxes and location?- to me that would be the only thing defining it as 'a 4 year old hive'. In my opinion a 'hive' is merely the boxes or location (as in a particular tree)... a colony is a particular population of bees with one particular queen. A 'hive' can have several different unique colonie/populations living in it one after another, led by different related or unrelated queens.
    Thus, I don't treat my bees with miticides, but because I make sure none of my hives ever have queens that are older than 2 yrs old, technically speaking i would never have a 'four year surviving hive'.
    I think this issue causes a lot of confusion, since we all have different ways of defining what a 'hive' is.
     
  5. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    Very true. I don't know how to ask the question without showing a bias, but still find a curiosity on the subject. :)

    You are quite correct Omie, the devil is in the details ;)

    In my view, the issue relates directly to a population of mites on the bees and in the brood combs, independant of the lineage or age of the bees continually inhabiting the colony. It is the population of mites that plague the bees and, on average, grows about 2% per month. How do our friends fair going treatment free after three or four years?
    :)
     
  6. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    To answer the OP. Jeff Pettis last week stated this might be the worst winter for bee survival ever in the US. He is from the Beltsville Bee Lab. Been my worst winter. My mite treatment was not effective and I'm seeing quite a few dead hives from mites.
     
  7. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    Our local association sent out an email asking about survival. Seems our state apiarist is compiling data for this past winter. I haven't heard about results yet, though. Luckily, I'm two for two surviving, but the winter was mild here.
     
  8. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Of the three hives here at home all are still going. I hit mine fairly hard with manually dosed formic acid and one with repeated hopguard then did oxalic vaporization in November I think. My son has not been back into his hives yet this spring but we were late getting mite treatments on and perhaps getting a bit cool. Saw some DWV signs plus may have left some a bit low on stores and fall flow was not good so overall not expecting anything like the previous year success which was close to 100%. The plan this year is to harvest last of August and treat. If they build stores well after that we will pinch a few frames of honey and use it to feed splits or light hives next spring.

    Some of the hives in that yard have been selected for lower mite susceptibility and do noticeably better than some of the mutts. It seems to be a bad area for mites as there are lots of ferals as well as managed hives. I dont think the varroa resistance stays very well with open breeding unless it is in the drone side as well. Something about it being connected with recessive factors so the resistance does not automatically come about. Mind you there are different mite resistance mechanisms that can be entirely different.

    Just my feeling that one has to give the bees a good running start to organize for our long winters; leave it a bit late or much of a mite count and the odds go way down.

    Is anyone familiar with the apparently mite free zone around Thunder Bay Ontario. I understand that the beekeepers there are very militant about any new bees that might be brought into their area.