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Author Topic: How important is a "Packed" hive?  (Read 5273 times)

Offline CoolBees

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How important is a "Packed" hive?
« on: December 21, 2018, 01:26:07 am »
I've studied Beekeeping A LOT - especially in the past 2 years. I've only learned 1 thing for sure so far, ... that I've finally reached part of 1 step above knowing nothing about Bees ... so your thoughts and advice are most welcome! Here goes:

Every beek I know personally is TOTALLY Treatment Free (TF). When I say "TF", I mean, No inspections, No meeting, No Bee Clubs, No fanatics, No Books, No opinions, ... just, "I have bees", successfully I might add. ... I had bees too - they died.

I would like to be TF, but after losing 4 hives (100%) 2 years ago, and nearly losing 4 more this year, I figure Randy Oliver has a point: Monitor, and Treat if needed, ... until I can confidently be TF.

I've had the pleasure to tour 2 TF Apiaries locally. Both have several traits in common (that I observed): Qty 1 - 10 frame deep, under 1 or 2 med supers. Purchased foundation. No QE. Hives TOTALLY PACKED with bees. I mean - during the day with all foragers out in the field, its Standing-Room-Only folks! Supers need a Forklift to be separated, and that's no joke. Drones are packed in between Boxes in Beespace everywhere. Swarming is normal.

The most interesting observation I had, was many bees in these hives seemed to have nothing to do. Just standing around inside the hive looking healthy as all get-out - (I've had the displeasure of learning what "Un-healthy" looks like).

All of this got me thinking - What importance does having a hive Totally Packed with Bees play ... in TF? or otherwise? Do bored bees begin to groom more, once all of the other duties of the hive are properly accounted for?  - is it more important than is currently emphasized?

Mr. Bush - touches on this subject (Thank you Sir!). ... Your thoughts? ...

You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline CoolBees

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2018, 01:57:32 am »
To Moderators - Maybe I should have posted this in the General Beekeeping forum.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline beepro

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 02:02:53 am »
I can only say that either they don't have mites or any other bee diseases in the
area or that they have combine the other weak hives to make a rather packed hive.  During the
early build up time a packed strong hive will grow the colony much much faster.   A packed hive can
make early splits too.  I just had the opportunity to use a packed hive to save a dwindling hive that only had a
handful of bees remaining.  Amazing how they can bounce back once the extra bees are added.  It is now totally secure!

Offline CoolBees

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2018, 04:29:10 am »
Thank you for your feedback Beepro - I've been reading all of your posts here, and find them very interesting & informative.

For sure their hives have mites. Both Beeks are about 9 miles from me. One difference is they are in the "city" - Around them are lots of flowering plants year round throughout the neighborhoods, fertilized yards (insecticides included I'm sure). I'm out in the countryside. My mite infestations have been horrible. They (the beeks) never "combine", "split", or any other management practices. They are both strictly "Hands off". The one gentleman with 6 hives (that I got my splits from), duct-tapes every joint and crack around his hives, and reduces his entrances with bricks. It made it a real problem to get in to take Brood frames - and when I was done, he insisted that we duct-tape everything again.

(I keep my entrances very reduced also - depending on hive activity - currently about 4 beespace openings).

... The success differences between my hives, and theirs, are very intriguing to me - it seems that it should be something very simple ... that I'm [still] missing ...
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline Acebird

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2018, 09:38:25 am »
They (the beeks) never "combine", "split", or any other management practices. They are both strictly "Hands off". The one gentleman with 6 hives (that I got my splits from),

How did you get a split if they never do them?
Brian Cardinal
Just do it

Offline Hops Brewster

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2018, 11:27:46 am »
Having 'packed' hives would be a seasonal thing.  And probably a relative thing, too.
Right now I don't want a packed hive.  A nice packed ball of winter bees is the thing.
Come April when it seems everything is in bloom, I want a very strong population, which will give me both honey and bees to make splits with.  That's free bees, friend.

Your beek friends never inspect?  Never split?  That's not treatment free.. that's just ignoring them and trusting to luck, and that ain't beekeeping.
Either that, or they're feeding you a line.  Take the statement "I never do anything with my bees" with a healthy grain of salt.

The thing about mites is, they mite kill your colony, or they mite not, but they are there in the colony.  Mites themselves are damaging to the bees plus they are a major vector of bacterial and viral disease.  You need to study that.
Winter is coming.

I can't say I hate the government, but I am proudly distrustful of them.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2018, 11:38:42 am »
Hops: times two.  Very well stated, fella, Mr. Hops.
Blessings
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2018, 03:09:58 pm »
Hops & Stinger - thank you for your responses.

I know the mites vector serious diseases. These people are family friends - our children grew up together. They really don't do anything except "keep" the hives.

The observation that frustrates me is: thier "ignoring" is working better than my "Beekeeping" ... so far anyways.

... so I'm looking for "what are the differences"? ...
Location? - could be
Genetices? - mine come from theirs (queen anyways)
Something I've missed? - Probably :)

... the "packed hive" is the only difference I've identifiedso far ...
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2018, 04:10:36 pm »
A packed hive may have a shorter capping time until hatching, which results in the mites not being able to reproduce so well.

You told of the beekeepers watching for broodnest density and using tape to isolate.

The drone brood, distributed on the combs attracts the Varroa mite so that it reproduces mainly in parts of cells where no winter bees are raised and therefore damaged.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 05:15:06 pm »
Hops & Stinger - thank you for your responses.

I know the mites vector serious diseases. These people are family friends - our children grew up together. They really don't do anything except "keep" the hives.

The observation that frustrates me is: thier "ignoring" is working better than my "Beekeeping" ... so far anyways.

... so I'm looking for "what are the differences"? ...
Location? - could be
Genetices? - mine come from theirs (queen anyways)
Something I've missed? - Probably :)

... the "packed hive" is the only difference I've identifiedso far ...

Mr CoolBees; that adds to this story, family friends.  I originally thought some beeks were blowing smoke and told you they never attended the bees.  However, family friends I would trust and believe.

OK, so what we call those bees are survivor bees.  That is bees that do not need mans intervention.  There are many beeks that believe such a bee no longer exists.  Myself, well, let me say I have not seen one, but there is a fella on this site M. Bush that does not treat bees, they prosper and I fully believe the man.

So genetics certainly plays a part but there are other factors: environment, specific parasites, resources, even weather.  A book could be written on parasites of honeybees, way beyond this post.

So your basic question remains unanswered.  The simple solution is to obtain bees from the fella which you already have.  So when faced with the improbable consider what

Einstein stated: A fool is a person that does the same thing over and over but expects different results.

So my friend you have to change something.
Blessings
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2018, 05:47:10 pm »
A packed hive may have a shorter capping time until hatching, which results in the mites not being able to reproduce so well.

You told of the beekeepers watching for broodnest density and using tape to isolate.

The drone brood, distributed on the combs attracts the Varroa mite so that it reproduces mainly in parts of cells where no winter bees are raised and therefore damaged.

Mr. SoWolKe, greetings.  Your use of English is better than mine and you are in Germany,,,,, I am using my native language .  Very good my Man.  Your post is inspirational, original thought for certain.  But begs the question: are mites attracted to drone comb or drones, drone larva,  in the comb.  I do not have a bonafied answer, do you know?
Blessings to Beeks across the pond.
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2018, 06:05:03 pm »
... The drone brood, distributed on the combs attracts the Varroa mite so that it reproduces mainly in parts of cells where no winter bees are raised and therefore damaged.

That is good information - I missed that the 1st time I read it.

Thank you - Alan
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline CoolBees

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2018, 06:16:39 pm »
Hops & Stinger - thank you for your responses.

I know the mites vector serious diseases. These people are family friends - our children grew up together. They really don't do anything except "keep" the hives.

The observation that frustrates me is: thier "ignoring" is working better than my "Beekeeping" ... so far anyways.

... so I'm looking for "what are the differences"? ...
Location? - could be
Genetices? - mine come from theirs (queen anyways)
Something I've missed? - Probably :)

... the "packed hive" is the only difference I've identifiedso far ...

Mr CoolBees; that adds to this story, family friends.  I originally thought some beeks were blowing smoke and told you they never attended the bees.  However, family friends I would trust and believe.

OK, so what we call those bees are survivor bees.  That is bees that do not need mans intervention.  There are many beeks that believe such a bee no longer exists.  Myself, well, let me say I have not seen one, but there is a fella on this site M. Bush that does not treat bees, they prosper and I fully believe the man.

So genetics certainly plays a part but there are other factors: environment, specific parasites, resources, even weather.  A book could be written on parasites of honeybees, way beyond this post.

So your basic question remains unanswered.  The simple solution is to obtain bees from the fella which you already have.  So when faced with the improbable consider what

Einstein stated: A fool is a person that does the same thing over and over but expects different results.

So my friend you have to change something.
Blessings

Stinger - great response. I'll do my best to pay attention - learn - and change as needed.

I concur - Mr. Bush is amazing is so many ways:
1 - what he has both studied and leared
2 - that he willingly shares his knowledge to anyone willing to listen, here, his website, his books, etc
3 - and his willingness to help - (he personally helped me straighten out my membership here at Beemaster)

A truely gracious and great man.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline beepro

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2018, 07:41:47 pm »
Mr. Stinger13, I believe that Mr. SoWolKe is a she. 

"A packed hive may have a shorter capping time until hatching, which results in the mites not being able to reproduce so well."

I always thought that with small cells there is a difference of 2 day earlier in bees emergence. Now I know that the high hive temp. can speed up the hatching therefore reducing the cap time a bit.  I've done many little bee experiment inside my homemade small fridge to learn it from queen cells hatching and cap brood frames hatching. 

Now with a packed hive the bees will regulate the internal temp. and moisture better so that the broods will have a successful hatch.  A lower hive temp. the bees will emerged with deformed wings.  Depending on whether or not you are using SC or LC, a packed hive will not shorten the brood's capping time.  Because there are the number of days it takes in order for the cap brood to turn into a mature healthy young bee while inside the cell. As for the mites, some are mature while others are still greenish in color (immature) once the new bees emerged from the cells.  I believe that using the SC will reduced the number of mites but the mites are still there.

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2018, 03:27:58 am »
Hi beepro, nice to see you again. Yes, I?m a woman beekeeper  :smile:

Hi Stinger thank you for your kind words.

Mites like colder parts on the combs, as was found. So colonies which have a small amount of drones all year through will be healthier, the drones taking the pests.

That?s the reason some people use drone frames in spring to cull later, it?s killing some mites, plus they believe the drones eat too much honey.

I know of some beekeepers who hold the mites at bay just by culling of drone combs in spring.

In a resistant bees breeding system like I and my mentors do, drones are never culled. We believe them important to draw the mites, we don?t fear they might produce more mites being the better source for reproducing. In our hives many drone pupa are pulled out by the bees interrupting the mite reproducing cycle. It looks as if the worker brood is not as important to the mites in such a setting.

Therefore in late summer the colonies which have drone brood all year through and never make the drone war are the healthiest.







Offline Live Oak

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2018, 04:38:48 am »
I've studied Beekeeping A LOT - especially in the past 2 years. I've only learned 1 thing for sure so far, ... that I've finally reached part of 1 step above knowing nothing about Bees ... so your thoughts and advice are most welcome! Here goes:

Every beek I know personally is TOTALLY Treatment Free (TF). When I say "TF", I mean, No inspections, No meeting, No Bee Clubs, No fanatics, No Books, No opinions, ... just, "I have bees", successfully I might add. ... I had bees too - they died.

I would like to be TF, but after losing 4 hives (100%) 2 years ago, and nearly losing 4 more this year, I figure Randy Oliver has a point: Monitor, and Treat if needed, ... until I can confidently be TF.

I've had the pleasure to tour 2 TF Apiaries locally. Both have several traits in common (that I observed): Qty 1 - 10 frame deep, under 1 or 2 med supers. Purchased foundation. No QE. Hives TOTALLY PACKED with bees. I mean - during the day with all foragers out in the field, its Standing-Room-Only folks! Supers need a Forklift to be separated, and that's no joke. Drones are packed in between Boxes in Beespace everywhere. Swarming is normal.

The most interesting observation I had, was many bees in these hives seemed to have nothing to do. Just standing around inside the hive looking healthy as all get-out - (I've had the displeasure of learning what "Un-healthy" looks like).

All of this got me thinking - What importance does having a hive Totally Packed with Bees play ... in TF? or otherwise? Do bored bees begin to groom more, once all of the other duties of the hive are properly accounted for?  - is it more important than is currently emphasized?

Mr. Bush - touches on this subject (Thank you Sir!). ... Your thoughts? ...

TF in many cases requires large amounts of splitting hives to stay ahead of the onerous losses until you hopefully breed and develop bees that have VSH traits and are resistant to varroa mites. 

In the mean time, you might look into treating your bees with the Mighty Mite Killer:

https://www.beehivethermalindustries.com/shop

It is a thermal (heat) treatment but it is chemical free.  I treat my hives with the Mighty Mite Killer.  I have several of them and treat my hives in groups of 8 which allows me to treat the entire apiary in a reasonable amount of time.  The Mighty Mite Killer kills varroa mites under the brood cappings so it goes after the reproductive mites which cause the most harm.  The only other treatments that can do this is MAQS and Formic Pro. 

I treat 3 times a year about every 3 to 4 months.  During Winter I may treating with OAV which is very good at killing phoretic mites but it does not kill reproductive mites.  I treat my nucleus colonies with the Mighty Mite Killer as well. 

Offline SiWolKe

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2018, 06:34:44 am »
@ cool bees

IME the splitting is no help in fighting mites, it?s just aa action to have more luck with survivor numbers, but it doesn?t matter to a hobbyist if he has 30% survivors out of 100 or out of 10.
He does not need the honey for his income.

It matters to a commercial though.

Some commercials breed queens and have nucs treatment free but treat their production hives because the stress of migration and foraging of sprayed fields will prevent the bees from staying healthy.
In my eyes not a bad configuration.

Back to the topic of a packed hive:
I got the impression the bees have priorities. A split has to become an established colony and might lean all actions towards breeding and storing, but I purchased a pure bred resistant queen this summer which cleaned the one capped brood comb given in no time with the use of VSH and pulling the pupa. Then the new brood started.

So the genetics, or probably the epigenetic behavoiurs developing if bees are left alone and triggered to fight the mites, might be the clue.

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2018, 04:37:08 pm »
It is very well known that populous colonies do best.  The -strong- hive. The -keep them tight- adage.
Population strength is an indicator of overall health, but a packed hive is not always a healthy one. There are plenty pests, diseases, and virus that thrive more prolifically in a strong population than a sparse one. It is often the biggest strongest hive that crashes the hardest. Do not be fooled by a box full of bees, avoid becoming a complacent beekeeper.

Also, do not believe everything you read here...
« Last Edit: December 22, 2018, 05:03:13 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline SiWolKe

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2018, 05:56:13 pm »
Population strength is an indicator of overall health, but a packed hive is not always a healthy one. There are plenty pests, diseases, and virus that thrive more prolifically in a strong population than a sparse one. It is often the biggest strongest hive that crashes the hardest.

I?m interested. can you please elaborate on this? What kind of pests, diseasees and virus? I understand about virus danger. Please explain about the others.

I would like to know what is the difference of a man made big production colony which is created by swarm prevention or quenn cell culling and a natural kept colony with high density of bees.
Can you give me an explanation with respect to health?

Offline CoolBees

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Re: How important is a "Packed" hive?
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2018, 09:03:30 pm »
Thank you for your thoughtful response SiWolKe,

Quote
... IME the splitting is no help in fighting mites ...

... That doesn't match what my studies have said - but it DOES make Mathematical and Logical sense to me. You can't divide the mites, give them more brood to breed in, and expect to have less of them ... IMHO ...

Quote
.. It matters to a commercial though. ...

Agreed. The necessary goals (and needed outcomes) of the Commercial Beek are quite different than the Hobbyist/Beginner (such as me). As a 20+ yr Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, I can totally see their side of things.

Quote
...I got the impression the bees have priorities. A split has to become an established colony and might lean all actions towards breeding and storing, ...

Exactly where my thinking led me -The 1st goal of the [new] hive is Brood, Stores, and Survival. After that might come disease prevention, and replication (swarming) ... I.E. They shift over to their long-term goals once all short-term needs have been met, and Mite resistant traits begin to show up more. ... This is what I think I might have seen as the difference in Hives. ... but it's just a Hypothesis right now.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln