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Author Topic: Raising/Selecting TF bees  (Read 372 times)

Offline yes2matt

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Raising/Selecting TF bees
« on: August 06, 2020, 10:50:34 pm »
So I have not used chemicals for ... five years now I guess.  And I have more bees each year than the year previous. And I'm starting to think about growing a little bit.
I took a queen rearing class several years ago, and the (excellent) teacher had a short list of priorities he selects for when choosing queen mothers.  In another sort of class I learned that "a goal not written down is just a dream" so here is my list of priorities, and some specific collectible data that would serve as metrics of those traits.

your comments are welcome!!

Matt?s Ideal Honey Bees (Charlotte NC)

> is gentle to kids, pets, birds and lawnmowers
   > may be hostile to robber bees
   > ok if pissy to beekeeper, but relaxes with smoke.

> Starts early in the year, ASAP after Winter Solstice
   > hoards pollen in the Autumn
   > responds to stimulus feeding
   > decent brood nest Feb 1
   > wants to swarm early

> Manages/jails SHB
   > happy in a solid box, small entrance
   > lots of propolis and lots and lots of propolis

> Manages varroa directly
   > method (ankle biting, grooming, pupae uncapping etc) is not important
   > low mite counts throughout summer
   > no spikes/bombs
   > patchy brood pattern ok in summer

> Diverse weather hardy   
   > no brood disease ever except beekeeper error
   > no nosema ever
   > tidy interior cavity (clean floor)
   > lots of propolis
   > less brood in dearth and Winter

> Make some honey!
   > April 1 weight over brood box
   > June 30 weight over brood box
   > Mid-September brood box weight

Offline Acebird

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2020, 08:15:52 am »
I don't understand the "Make some honey" category.
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Offline yes2matt

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2020, 11:15:32 pm »
I was thinking of data points. For weight above the brood box, put the scale under the first super.

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Offline Acebird

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2020, 09:15:07 am »
If you are using all mediums the brood area will cover 2 to 3 boxes and the top box will probably be a mixture.  I think you are better off weighing the whole hive and subtracting out a fixed number based on the brood area size.
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Offline William Bagwell

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2020, 08:25:59 am »
Interesting list! Agree with most of it and too new to quibble about the
rest. Aw, when has that ever stopped me :wink:

Knowing the method of varroa management is important for at least one reason.
When adding diversity they should have different mechanisms. Be kind of
foolish to buy bees / queens from five different sources that all use the
same method when you do not (yet) know which one(s) will work best in your
location.

Speaking of which just how do you tell? Aware of a pin prick test, but think it is more for hygienic in general and not varroa sensitive hygienic (VSH) Also looking for evidence of damage to fallen mites. What is the cheapest way to look, will a hand lens work?

Personally word rather have just a propolis hive or two rather than all of them. But understand your reasoning since it is supposed to be healthy for the bees. Pollen is good and plan to run a trap next year.

Offline yes2matt

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2020, 09:17:26 pm »
Interesting list! Agree with most of it and too new to quibble about the
rest. Aw, when has that ever stopped me :wink:

Knowing the method of varroa management is important for at least one reason.
When adding diversity they should have different mechanisms. Be kind of
foolish to buy bees / queens from five different sources that all use the
same method when you do not (yet) know which one(s) will work best in your
location.

Speaking of which just how do you tell? Aware of a pin prick test, but think it is more for hygienic in general and not varroa sensitive hygienic (VSH) Also looking for evidence of damage to fallen mites. What is the cheapest way to look, will a hand lens work?

Personally word rather have just a propolis hive or two rather than all of them. But understand your reasoning since it is supposed to be healthy for the bees. Pollen is good and plan to run a trap next year.
Sorry it took long to respond.

I'm imagining mite load to be tested by sugar roll or alcohol wash. I've always done sugar roll in the past but our state guy has a method of sampling and drenching in the field then counting and accounting in the comfort of his kitchen. I haven't tried it yet.

Propolis is by the bees for the bees, I harvest propolis off the edges of frames when I can't fit them in the box. I want bees that make/find a lot of propolis. Some guys select against a gummy hive, I think it's better.

I don't plan on buying bees. Maybe for a side project or a curiosity,  but not as part of a continuous operation. I only bought one nuc to start, and then I bought a couple TF queens but that's the sum total of my bee purchases.

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Offline William Bagwell

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2020, 10:04:53 pm »
Apologies for the ragged word wrap up above! Often compose in my email client and usually remember to fix the resulting alternating long / short lines.

Was referring to mite management by the bees, not the beekeeper. Currently just counting mites on sticky boards. At least on the hives I can.

Started in March with a nuc from a multy-year TF beek. Long story short, it swarmed, caught same and also made a split from the original hive. Split and swarm are doing fine. Original hive not so much... June I bought out another TF beekeeper who was moving out of state. Six hives, five with bees. All five are doing great and the three I can monitor have very low counts. (Two are top bars...)

Like you I hope I never have to buy bees again. Do plan to buy a few queens for diversity hence my question on how to tell which mechanism they are using. And might buy another bargain if one comes my way. Oh, one of the June purchase is supposed to be VSH and does have the lowest count. Rest are caught swarms and I forgot to ask if they were his swarms or not.

100% chemical free and aspire to be 100% treatment free in the future. Do have an MMK thermal as a backup to minimize losses the first few years until I get everything dialed in.

Offline yes2matt

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2020, 02:51:28 am »
Apologies for the ragged word wrap up above! Often compose in my email client and usually remember to fix the resulting alternating long / short lines.

Was referring to mite management by the bees, not the beekeeper. Currently just counting mites on sticky boards. At least on the hives I can.

Started in March with a nuc from a multy-year TF beek. Long story short, it swarmed, caught same and also made a split from the original hive. Split and swarm are doing fine. Original hive not so much... June I bought out another TF beekeeper who was moving out of state. Six hives, five with bees. All five are doing great and the three I can monitor have very low counts. (Two are top bars...)

Like you I hope I never have to buy bees again. Do plan to buy a few queens for diversity hence my question on how to tell which mechanism they are using. And might buy another bargain if one comes my way. Oh, one of the June purchase is supposed to be VSH and does have the lowest count. Rest are caught swarms and I forgot to ask if they were his swarms or not.

100% chemical free and aspire to be 100% treatment free in the future. Do have an MMK thermal as a backup to minimize losses the first few years until I get everything dialed in.
I think if you had a line of bees and you were pretty sure they were managing mite pressure and wanted to know how, an observation hive and lots of time will be the ticket. Maybe a magnifying glass, definitely a pen light.

My bees, I expect during later summer to have patchy brood nests. I've seen them hauling pupae out the front door, and I'm only surmising that this is varroa/virus management. There's positive and negative management of that behavior on my part (sometimes the colony numbers get small and I intervene by putting them in a smaller box). Which is something I've learned to do.  I think if I had to learn to manage bees that were of multiple strains and had different behaviors it would set my head to spinning (which bees are these? what are they going to do next month?)

Have fun keeping your bees!

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2020, 04:50:42 pm »
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2020, 08:48:35 am »
Interesting, Michael. I am just beginning to think on these issues.

Offline yes2matt

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Re: Raising/Selecting TF bees
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2020, 08:25:06 pm »
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeswholebee.htm
We mentioned getting Jay Smith's works available as audiobook,  and I'm more and more convinced that his stuff is most important.

What it comes down to, and Meghan Milbraith said it in an interview with Kristin Traynor, is honey-making. All the complex variables,  after survival of course, point toward economic benefit to the beek.

However.

I have seen enough dead-outs now (not all mine) to start to notice that the dead ones don't have much propolis. And when I have a colony that's not good and gummy I think that's an early warning.

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