I have ordered Hopguard II and beetle traps to be more on top of this in the coming season. Thanks for sharing your experiences and ideas moving forward.
What did your bottom boards look like? a picture would help.
Please dont get down on yourself, beneficial insects are having a hard time and many times are dying anyways. The best thing you can do is create a good safe environment for them and other pollinators in your yard. Make sure there is water available for them to access.
What kind of bees do you have Fusion? 5% is not colony fatality going into winter here. Usually we think most all hives will have 1%-7% varroa infection. I do think mites are a large cause for concern but 20 years ago 10% infection on varroa did not have the fatal effects that it is attributed now. Bees are a colony animal and should be able to lose 10% of there brood and a healthy hive should still prosper. There is much more going on than just varroa
Did not take a photo (my bad) but did spend some time looking, counting. I did spend some time looking at bees I collected under my microscope, as well as brood in various stages. Not as much there as I would have thought, although others have pointed out varroa may not be very visible. I think the way I looked for them,though, they would have shown up for me. Some, but not that many.
Thanks Richard, I’m over it and moving forward. Thanks for everyone’s encouragement. I have learned so much from this site in a short period over many different aspects of gardening and fruit trees. You guys rock
Richard, my bees are derived from a queen caught in a swarm in 2004 that showed significant mite resistance. I purchased some queens from Purvisbees and raised queens from my colony to mate with drones from the Purvis queens. The resulting colonies were about 70% significantly mite resistant. Since then, I got a few queens from Mike Carpenter and in 2015 a few from BWeaver. The BWeaver queens gave a significant amount of beetle tolerance. Here are the results of tests on 8 colonies.
#1 - 29 mites, 9.7%, Buckfast daughter
#2 - 12 mites, 4.0%
#3 - 8 mites, 2.7%
#4 - 2 mites, 0.7%
#5 - 4 mites, 1.4%
#6 - 17 mites, 5.7%
#7 - 23 mites, 7.7%
#8 - 35 mites, 11.7%, queen raised this year, colony had problems last year but made it through winter.
#8 showed stress from mites which was mostly by a low overall population. #1 was deliberately included as a check. She is a Buckfast daughter mated to mite resistant drones. If you read carefully through the percentages, half of these colonies could be considered resistant to highly resistant. Sample size is obviously small so don’t read too much into it. The criteria to test a colony was that each colony sampled had to be at least 2 years old, not treated, not manipulated to reduce mites. I had 8 colonies that met these criteria.
There is a much longer winter brood break in CO than in AL. Here, colonies with 5% infestation may live through winter, but rarely make a crop of honey the next spring. I have not treated my bees with anything since the winter of 2004/2005.
Glad you posted about resistant strains. It has been a long time since I kept bees and if I were to start back the resistant one look like the way to go. Is there a strain/variety you would recommend? What is your thoughts about the resistance being transferred into what I refer to the wild population? Thanks, Bill
Bill, Get queens from Carpenter Apiaries if you want reasonably good resistance. I don’t think he sells packages or nucs so you would have to start with bees from elsewhere then requeen from his line.
One of the reasons my bees get fairly pure matings to resistant genetics is because I pushed them to swarm heavily in 2006 and 2008. I pushed between 30 and 50 swarms into the trees those years. Since then, the background population has been mostly mite resistant. I still have colonies with high mite counts, but I also have colonies that show marked resistance with very low numbers of varroa.
Just checked on my ‘shed wall beehive’ because today we had a sunny warm spell that got up to -1C. I wish I had X-Ray vision, I would love to be able to see the cluster orientation and the actual size of the colony. Bees have been in this wall for the last 20 years and because it is in an abandoned shed I just let them alone. I loved looking over and watching them come and go as I fed the chickens. I have no idea if this particular colony is 1 year old or more.
They must be OK so far as they are cleaning house today by removing some dead bees, 12 in all are laying in the snow. I inspected them, just because, and they look fine with no wing deformities and no dead queen.
I am afraid to do a cut out in the spring, so I think I will set up a couple of swarm traps and see if they swarm. I would love to leave them but I am not sure that our Bee Inspector will allow that, so I might have to move the whole colony at some point.
Pushing the swarms is something I would not have thought of but surely with that many new colonies/drones should help to keep your new queens mated with mostly resistance egg dna. Looks like if enough beekeepers use these resistant strains eventually the wild bee population could recover. I don’t know if I will ever start back beekeeping but it was certainly an interesting hobby. For a short period of time I got into queen rearing for use on my 65 colonies. I sold most of my honey in 65 gal drums that eventually went to schools or so they said.
Do you still have any equipment that you are interested in letting go? Particularly extracting and honey handling gear? If so, it would be easy to pass on to someone who would use it by listing here.
Good idea but I don’t have any equipment remaining. When I phased out I donated several hives and equipment to a person that was interested but needed a helping hand. My work career along with children was taking an enormous amount of time and it was a relief knowing the hives were going to help someone.
Well that is excellent results there. You know it seems like the buckfast bees really do not perform well here at all maybe they thrive in the cold wet conditions like the NE more similar to England? You never know how the genetics throw but it sure seems like you still have very resistant hives established and you are probably helping the local bees alot with your genetics.
I went with ordering two italian packages locally and just gave the guy the queens and got 2 old sol mated caucasian queens which i felt was the bee most suited to my area. There are some wild swarms of nearly black bees that come into my yard and i hope to catch this year. Mine are super calm which i think is the most important for my urban area. I have thought about reintroducing new mated resistant queens again.
I bought some Blue Orchard Bees, they arrived USPS today. I opened the box and there are cocoons, but also some emerged bees moving around! They’re in the fridge, what should I do? Get the living ones out or keep 'em cold until the right time? Nothing growing in the area for them to be able to eat yet… Hmm, didn’t expect this…
The emerged bees are likely gonners. But this is what I would do. I would get some bee pollen some straw and some crocus and daffodils from homedepot. Set them out and hope for the best.
Ah, that’s kind of what I feared… Looks like 3 out of 20 “woke up” too early… Hopefully some/all of the rest make it. Thanks!
On the bright side the males are more likely to have awakened first. The makes wake up drink a little nectar, wait for the ladies to emerge mate and die. There pollination contribution would have been minimal.
I guess it would depend on when your pollen condition is.
We get mason bees in the mail way too early, and yes one or two is looking out of the box when we opened it, and a few cocoons were moving. I just put the whole lot in the fridge and they stayed like that for 2 weeks, they did not die in that time, but who knows if the emerged bee made it after they were put in the bee house.
I bet they will be ok. Just keep them in the fridge. I even cut a cocoon open in dec one time to see what was inside. It was a liitle male moving around. He stayed in the fridge for two months then flew away when put outside in feb. I guess that doesnt mean he survived long enough to mate around my colony, but they seem pretty tough.