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Author Topic: Fantasy beekeeping ?  (Read 209 times)

Offline charentejohn

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Fantasy beekeeping ?
« on: August 19, 2020, 11:12:28 am »
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.
You must be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Gandhi

Offline Acebird

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2020, 06:11:53 pm »
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.
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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2020, 07:25:09 pm »
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      
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2020, 09:01:00 am »
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.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2020, 09:06:18 am »
My thought on hive volume was that smaller meant more swarming.
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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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2020, 10:59:25 am »
On the small hives and swarming the photos are of the bird roosting box they occupied on my wall and they were there for 7 years.  Sent out loads of swarms from a box of around 30L.  Asian Hornets did get to them in the end as the colony couldn't take the losses due to it's size where a larger colony may have been ok.  That said that is an unusual circumstance and they were fine before and once they swarm once then if the original hive dies out that is ok as it is what they do.  Given they lasted so long they did well.  I was sad when they died out until I realised they were far from 'my' original bees, by about 12+  generations ?  :happy:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/GmsnGhbwzWiqKfcz8

The sweet valley system should work as it is not a full box only half height size. You are right on the lack of foundation generally but I will (if I ever do) use frames in the supered box but without foundation.   This is just to allow them to fill it part way then I can remove it.  Doing this means the box it was sitting on remains undisturbed and full.   
I like that no queen excluder is needed (I don't like them anyway) as the 10cm (4") height means they will fill with honey not brood as they put it at the top, clever thought. Saves disruption hopefully, by the time I removed it they would be in the middle box with the brood anyway..

When done I will have 3 warre boxes sitting on an open floor.  The will have built down from the adapter and I will nadir an empty box and remove the adapter next spring.  With the open floor I expect them to fill 2.5 boxes next year and to then retreat up over the colder months munching as they go.  By the time it gets cold (mostly above 0c here with occasional weeks of -10c but by then they should be at least in the middle of the middle box. so away from the open floor

I take the point on heating but as you can now see they won't have a void above them by that time.  There are some photos of the top bars I used which are the dowel support type, just in case I ever have to mess with them.  I want them to build to the sides creating small pockets between combs as although they don't heat the hive they need any heat they lose to be trapped as much as possible.  With a warre top cloth each gap is a separate space near it's top.  I think they just keep the queen warm by cycling round in a sort of brownian motion that will give off some heat but very little.
I am hoping that with the Warre shape and top bars the winter cluster will be able to move around the stores easier.   They often build shaped comb 'free style' and they can if they like.  I had some small foundation strips but they didn't like them and spat them out to build their own.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/86FAEpNKmN6KcB9q8
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2020, 09:12:42 am »
On the small hives and swarming the photos are of the bird roosting box they occupied on my wall and they were there for 7 years.  Sent out loads of swarms from a box of around 30L.
That is close to the size of a Lang deep which is modeled after a natural hive.  Smaller yes but not what I was thinking.
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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2020, 10:11:14 am »
Never looked at Langstroth dimensions but someone once said they were a warre like hive but easier to manage for honey.  looks like that is right.
A standard Langstroth box is same area as a warre but half the height. Supers are even smaller which is fascinating.  I can look into fitting an even smaller 'super' if I ever decide to take honey.  The thin Langstorth super would do, just have to remember to use frames to stop them building onto the top warre bars   :smile:
I have some unused warre frames so I can modify them over winter, even better as the reduced height would mean no need for foundation.  Worth making some and see how they work, one of these would contain all the honey I would want to harvest. 

I wonderd about the Japanese ones and they are also smaller than the Warre.  Basically they and langstroth are, when stacked, easier for the bees to manage as regards internal area and can be harvested if you want.  I noticed they both say reduced harvest, which is expected, but then again maybe a better one as easier to manage boxes and hopefully less stressed bees.
Japanese hive dimensions https://www.japan-natural-beekeeping.org/  I noticed they say no swarming control.
Photos etc https://warre.§¤«£¿æ.com/japan.htm     
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2020, 09:27:37 am »
I am just going to say a pile box hive would be illegal in the US.  And IMO a royal pain in the a$$.
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Offline charentejohn

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Re: Fantasy beekeeping ?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2020, 10:18:21 am »
Not a problem here in France as we don't have mandatory inspections.  I know the UK has inspections but they can do Warres and the like just needs more prep.
Not illegal anywher in europe ?  I could be wrong.  Here we have to register them so they know who has them but that is all.

I have them as I want minimal intervention so fine for me, some do have them with frames in which would be easier to inspect though.  Only a problem if you have to keep opening them  :smile:   David Heaf's system is to just tilt the top bar warre box backwards so you can look underneath, as only 20cm high you can see inside easily.  Only tricky if you want a comb out and so have to cut it from the sides.
You must be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Gandhi