Fantasy beekeeping ?

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Mite load and what to do was brought up on another of my posts and I said I would do a new one for it, so this is it.  May be a bit long, as lots of variables to clarify, but it is my varroa strategy such as it is.

My setup.
Two 5 frame Dadant Nuc box size adapters on two Warre hive boxes.  Two colonies doing well installed as Nucs with this year?s queens.  One was 3 frames and some started (Italian-ish) the other was 5 full frames (black-ish).   As of now (mid Aug) mite drop to sticky board is 20 and 30/day respectively.  Hot and humid very busy but heading into a short dearth pre Ivy starting.

The plan.
Fantasy beekeeping, is that I won?t use chemicals or organic (like formic) only sugar ?drizzle? or ?misting? (more on that later).  As long as the load stays below 40/day I will leave it, above that I will use sugar (powdered made from granulated) to dust them.  This will be to help get them through winter.
In spring when they have only stores in the Dadant frames and some in the Warre boxes I will remove the adapters and nadir a Warre box.
This will be their final configuration, 3 Warre hive bodies, top bars,, quilt box, permanently open tube floor.

The concern.
It is said TF fail in the second year.  I think this may be related to Dadant style hives which are not allowed to swarm in the second year, so mites are carried forward and never really subside. Lots of info, a little too much sometimes, on the various scenarios and reasons but I think larger hives managed or not may reduce swarming in year 2 ?

Swarming as a control.
As I will be avoiding opening hives and will not be harvesting honey (maybe a Kg or two at some point ?) they should go into a natural swarm cycle with attendant brood breaks.  I am hoping this coupled with smaller Warre hive dimensions will be all they need.
There are another couple of brood break related times about which I had heard nothing and these are here.  The people who said this are mentioned, they deserve it. 

Scot McPherson (Beekeeping from scratch) said - this is one that I think is lost on many beekeepers since they manage the bees to prevent it, but the brood nest getting honey bound. This is something that occurs in nature that beekeeper avoid at all costs. Being honey bound at the right times of the year is part of a colony lifecycle, stops brood rearing at key times (just as the flows are ending and dearths are beginning), and once the colony is honey bound, the bees start eating the honey which slowly makes room for the queen to begin laying again. I think this should happen at least once during the spring flow, and once during the fall flow to totally shut down the brood for a couple weeks. Yes it needs to be managed so the bees swarm when you want them to and don't swarm when you don't want them to, but I still think it's important for the bees' health to happen. 
Adam Wright from another group added his thoughts to this with something he thinks Torben Schiffer said somewhere - a content (honey bound?) colony when not needing to work at foraging will immediately turn to hive keeping and preening of sister bees. I think he's probably right...well he's observed the behaviour in hive...I haven't. I will take his word on it, as it makes sense. Could be why established feral colonies are surviving without treatments. And production colonies that are manipulated to endlessly forage and are not getting the chance to use their natural behaviour to keep the Colony healthy as it should be, have problems.

Both interesting as I hadn?t considered other than the usual main swarm brood break.

Sugar ?Misting / drizzling?.
I say this as opposed to pulling a frame and coating bees with powdered sugar.  Someone pointed out that chemical treatments stay on for 14 days or so to catch varroa leaving the cells as bees emerge.  The sugar dusting is disruptive and usually only done once, so only gets one lot of varroa.

I have been looking into a way to do this regularly and less invasively.  I can think of sugar drizzling between frames but just a little and at 4 day intervals for 4 treatments ?  This would be to encourage grooming to remove some phoretic mites.  Won?t get them all just reduce numbers.  I especially want to do this as the winter cluster bees are appearing to clean them up as much as possible.  An alternative is to ?mist? using, ironically, an insecticide sprayer.  I have a bulb type but the video shows how fine these can spray the powder.
All I will do with my wooden cover boards is move them forward a little and drift some sugar in.  Easier on the Warre with top cloth peeled to expose 5cm of gap between frames, no cracking sound of propolis, sneaky.
Idea is rather than the heavier, who threw that?, sugar coating.  More of a, get these bits of sugar off me will you, approach.  Interesting to see if it helps, sticky board will tell.

Any info from people who have tried this very welcome, sometimes nothing beats having tried it.  1:45 in you can see the powder falling like cigarette smoke.

I kept bees in upstate NY for 6 years without any chemicals at all.  I don't think the size or shape of the hive makes any difference.  It does make a difference if you are dependent on the bees making lots of honey as in a commercial endeavor.  If you let them swarm then you lose the excess honey that could be harvested.  Every beekeeper has their own goals for keeping bees but I feel you can have treatment free bees and still get some honey but not if you let them swarm.

My thought on hive volume was that smaller meant more swarming.  I had a 30+L old bird box (sealed so never touched) that kept swarming.
I agree on the honey as the space added means they fill that rather than the main hive box so cycling supers round as they fill will mean they always fill the space.  They have to as I think they will see it as if they don't they will freeze in winter as there will be empty space above them.  So it is swarm or freeze so they work to fill it with honey, they don't know it will be removed later.

I saw where on a Warre it is possible to add a super but in this case they are small.  Once established and if they swarm in spring and then build fast agin in a good nectar flow I may do it.  I think in Dadant hives but similar to most commercial ones.  A dadant brood frame is 2x a warre frame (rough idea) so a 10 frame brood box is 20 warre frames (so 2+x 8 frame warre boxes).   A super is half that at 1 warre box, a half height warre 'super' is similar to 4 of the frames in a dadant super.
Sure you are all confused by now  :smile: but if I did take honey I would let them fill part of some half height warre top bars the remove them before they are filled, maybe.  Princile is here     

Forgive me but Sweet Valley is wrong on a lot of his management.
If you are not using foundation then the second box should be put under the hive not on top because the bees naturally build down.  If you did that then you could easily have a 3 or 4 box hive.  Secondly the bees don't heat the hive but you don't want empty space above the bees in a cold climate.  Having empty space below the bees is fine.  The size of a hive is predominantly at the beekeepers discretion.  Bees will adapt to almost anything.


--- Quote from: charentejohn on August 19, 2020, 07:25:09 pm ---My thought on hive volume was that smaller meant more swarming.

--- End quote ---
Smaller also produces a higher risk that the parent hive will not survive.  The purpose of swarming is to multiply and if the parent hive dies off there may not be any increase.


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