Varroa Mite Free???

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by Dbure, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    I have read that beeweaver bees are bred to be varroa mite free and that they have not used any mite treatments in their colonies since 2001. Has anyone had experience with their bees and not had varroa mites in the hive? :confused:
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I can't say for sure but in my opinion, if you've got bees, you've probably got mites. The big difference is how your bees deal with them.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Tec works with B. Weaver, I think, so he can clear it up a bit. I think they are just varroa resistant, not varroa free. They just keep the mite count down to a bearable presence.
     
  4. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    That is what I kinda thought too Perrybee. I would not think the genetics of a bee could make it resistent to mites. Not unless it has pesticides in it's genes. :shock: I mean, isn't a varroa mite nothing more than a parasite looking for a meal?
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Pretty much. Resistant stock like Iddee mentions seems to be the direction things are headed. Hygenic bees with the ability to detect varroa in capped brood cells and remove them, ability to bite or chew varroa from one another, that sort of thing.
     
  6. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    So in other words the bees themselves are bred with a certain trait in behavior which causes them to react in a way that keeps the mites in check? I think I can see how that would work then. ;)
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    iddee and perry seem to have it mostly figured out. I think (never really asked) that the buckfast bee provide by BWeaver to the honeybee genome project** played some role in this decision as did other folks move* in the direction to rear a bee (a genetic solution) that would tolerate the varroa at a much higher lever that was previously though possible. just as you might select bees for honey production or gentle disposition the idea is to have some criterion for selecting bees with proven resistance to the varroa. pure old survivability become one primary selection item.

    without a doubt (ie in conversation I have had with the owners) the increased nastyness (to bees and beekeeper) of the stuff used to combat varroa was at least one of the drivers of this decision.

    I can assure you without reservation that BWeaver bees are NOT varroa free.

    **certain markers on the bee genome have been identified as indicating resistance to varroa and other pathogens.

    *the american bee keeper in France who coined the 'bond method of beekeeping... live and let die' worked for BWeaver long ago so I suspect they still correspond to some degree. he at least gives the Weavers a great deal of credit in polishing off his Phd with some practical experience.
     
  8. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Some bee management programs make huge differences in mite loads. Operations that split constantly, raise queens, and force hives into broodless periods, have great advantages in keeping mites in check, lowering the need for treatments. This of course is then taken full advanatge in marketing and fluffed up hype.

    Of course, those buying those same bees, and NOT managing the bees in the same manner, oftentimes see much different results.

    Many items go into a IPM plan that would allow a beekeeper to be "treatment free". Which is a misused and misunderstood statement. No treatments, usually means using no harsh chemicals. But reality is, stating "no treatments" is usually justified by a whole bunch of other items and work that go into allowing the beekeeper to not use chemicals.

    I don't use chemicals. But I "treat" my bees by the nature of what bees do naturally like using brood breaks in splitting and requeening (bees do it by swarming), I requeen almost all my hives every year (Like bees do in feral colonies...and Weaver does by raising and selling queens). As well as a host of other things, all giving the bees the ability to mimmick what they do naturally and deal with mites.

    Bottom line.....buying a "resistant" queen means much less to the quality of what that queen will provide, if you don't understand what went into what allowed the breeder to make the statement to begin with. And keep in mind that many beekeepers make claims about their bees. It's called marketing. But it is not always true. It usually is filled with half-truths, and slick crafted statements.

    Always keep it real. If you think you are buying a special queen, to solve your mite problems by the mere act of placing a new queen in a hive, you have already been taken.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    good post Bjorn although I suspect there will always be some disagreement created thru each person's use of the dictionary.

    at the get go 'treatment' can mean quite different things depending on audience. for folks that have some science and statistical training, treatment means anything you do that varies from doing nothing (doing nothing is called 'the control' and some science folks have now expanded this simple definition to positive and negative control... I can't quite figure out what these terms mean quite yet but I have heard and seen them used in this way).

    without a doubt some bee keeper manipulations (your term??? bee management programs) can have positive or negative impacts on the varroa. of course some things are easier to do in smaller operation and these same manipulation become almost undoable with large numbers (the forcing bees into broodless period might fall into this scale or size restriction???).

    i am not certain bees in the trees do or don't requeen themselves each year??? I think I could logically compose an argument as to why feral bees (in somewhat limit space) do 'have the tendency' to swarm on a yearly bases. I am fairly certain that without some cause (like nasty disposition) that BWeaver (as distinguished for 'the Weaver'.... actually this is plural in nature and often creates it's own amount of confusion) does NOT requeen on a yearly bases.

    splitting as a means of varroa control is one item that is done by BWeaver and myself quite differently and likely does have different effects in regards to the varroa. I myself (being a one man band) almost always do total deconstruction splits (ie one hive split into as many parts as possible) while splits done by BWeaver are typically one split removed from a very robust hive. I tend to use splitting as part of a 'culling' process and BWeaver does not.
     
  10. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Tec

    could you qualify the total deconstruction split method a bit more. I think I get what you are saying, but would like to be sure. I want to double up my hives this coming year, and have some hygienic bees that i want to work with.
     
  11. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    I have always thought if kinda funny, genetically selected bees for gentlness, and in general they aren't as productive, get some wild nasty africanized bees--they work longer, generate huge broods, gather a ton of honey if managed for it, one small detail. One has to use the economy sized jumbo smokers, and enough smoke to choke out a elephant, even then not subdued they are just too disoriented to mount a more organized defense---at that moment. meanwhile your neighboring hives are gearing up to give you formal instruction on AFB. So the short story is apparently the best bee seems to be the bees that stayed closer to thier roots no matter how evil they are to work.
     
  12. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    That's how I see that. There are bees that are more resistant to mites, and are better house keepers than others, but there is no such a thing as mite free bees.

    Sample for hygienic bees http://www.fergusonapiaries.on.ca/genetest.php

    With hygienic bees, spring hive splitting using queen cells instead of new queens (breaking mite reproduction cycle) and some organic treatments that are available, it is possible to have strong hives, good producers, with low mite numbers.
     
  13. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    There is a treratment, that is almost worry free, using formic acid, temperature restriction, not higher temp then 90 degrees, place a pad on top the top bars of brood chamber. the vapors will kill varroa, and thier instars. will not contaminate honey, and don't excessively irritate the bees.
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    zulu ask for my definition of a 'total deconstruction split method'.

    tecumseh:
    you take one hive that you split into as many pieces as possible (generally for me this means 4 frames in a 5 frame nuc box (shallows, mediums and deeps). ideally I am deselecting or culling this hive for one reason or another from the gene pool. may be any number or combination of factors but invariable disposition and varroa count on early drone population are part of the mix (very informal varroa survey via plucking sealed drone brood).

    then I pretty do this via marsbee...
    'spring hive splitting using queen cells instead of new queens (breaking mite reproduction cycle) and some organic treatments that are available, it is possible to have strong hives, good producers, with low mite numbers.'

    tecumseh:
    i don't do any organic treatment around the time of splitting in the spring time. i figure time of season (early) the varroa is low in number for any hive that I want to split from (ie robust and relatively healthy). This past year in the fall I did play around (experiement) with some 'organic treatment' (sucromid) prior to the same total deconstructive split process.
     
  15. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    Same here Tec, no treatments when splitting in the spring.
    First treatment at the end of August (this year thymovar)
    Second treatment beginning of December (oxalic acid dribbling)
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    marbees writes:
    thymovar

    tecumseh:
    that is a new one for me. could you enlighten me somewhat?

    during the same late summer/fall period I also pretty much did the same process (without the total deconstructive splitting) on some hive that appeared to be in the process of varroa collapse... ie spray down with sucromid, kill any queen in the box and add queen cell. this was marginally successful... the 100+ weather likely didn't add anything to my queen acceptance rate in the late fall (I expect in at least one location drone population may have been pretty much non existent).
     
  17. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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  18. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    thanks for the links marbees.
     
  19. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    My own plan is to use splitting and/or requeening to keep mite levels acceptable. Some drone larvae removal too when I see a large patch of drone cells capped. Thankfully we don't have a big hive beetle problem in my area at least at this time.
     
  20. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Beekeepers tend to fear hive beetles far more than is warranted. Hive beetles really aren't that bad even in the middle of hive beetle country. Just keep the bottom board free of debris and a beetle eater in the top of the hive and don't pay them any more mind... but that last part is awefully hard to do with a pest that's large enough to be seen with the naked eye and not camoflaged at all. They stick out like sore thumbs, so they get a lot of attention from beekeepers, more than I think is warranted.