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Honeybee virus identified

 
Burra Maluca
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"A team studying honeybees in Hawaii found that the Varroa mite helped spread a particularly nasty strain of a disease called deformed wing virus.

The mites act as tiny incubators of one deadly form of the disease, and inject it directly into the bees' blood.

This has led to "one of the most widely-distributed and contagious insect viruses on the planet"."


Link to full article and a video below...

Honeybee virus: Varroa mite spreads lethal disease

 
tel jetson
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I take issue with the conclusions drawn in that article.

"So the only way to control the virus is to control the levels of the mite," said Dr Martin.

"[This] reinforces the need for beekeepers to control Varroa infestation."

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) praised the research.

BBKA chairman Dr David Aston said it "increased our understanding of the relationships between Varroa and [this] significant bee virus."

He told BBC Nature: "These findings underline the need for further research into Varroa.

"There remains a clear and urgent need for an effective, approved treatment."


treating for varroa does nothing but breed stronger, more miticide resistant varroa. I'm not at all surprised that the BBKA would come to the conclusion that more treatment is necessary. they are known to be in cahoots with pharmaceutical and pesticide manufacturers, the two groups that stand to benefit most from an "effective, approved treatment." such a treatment will only remain effective temporarily, but will poison bees and humans who consume hive products indefinitely.

if, however, we aren't interested in propping up amoral corporations, there are much simpler ways to solve the varroa/varroasis/deformed wing virus mess. simply refusing to treat for varroa and allowing the colonies that survive to swarm will fairly quickly bring about co-adaptation.

if a parasite or pathogen kills its host, that parasite or pathogen will die out. treating for varroa allows such a parasite and pathogen to spread by keeping an otherwise doomed colony alive to continue serving as host. that varroa/dwv combination can then spread to other colonies. thusly is virulence encouraged by treatment.

I can certainly understand a reluctance to allow large losses of colonies when treatment is stopped, but it's a much better bet in the end. and the prize isn't even that far off. I've seen figures of 30% annual loss to varroa without treatment for a few years (using Warré hives). that's not great, but it's not that bad, either. over time, that number will come down to a more acceptable level as strong stock continues to reproduce.

I haven't personally lost any colonies to varroa, but I've only been at it for a few years. probably doesn't hurt that I only start colonies with swarms and I don't use bottom boards. many orthodox beekeepers, the same who ridicule anyone who doesn't chemically treat hives, would scoff at both those practices. the first, because they are heavily invested in bees bred to not swarm, and the second because it might actually be a terrible idea.

I should stop now. I'm going to stop now.
 
Kevin Power
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tel jetson wrote:
treating for varroa does nothing but breed stronger, more miticide resistant varroa. I'm not at all surprised that the BBKA would come to the conclusion that more treatment is necessary. they are known to be in cahoots with pharmaceutical and pesticide manufacturers, the two groups that stand to benefit most from an "effective, approved treatment." such a treatment will only remain effective temporarily, but will poison bees and humans who consume hive products indefinitely.


Sounds like pesti-money is to be made. And I hear money talks.
 
Abe Connally
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there has been considerable work breeding varroa hives. Some of it deals with cell sze in the combs, others deal with it by breeding resistant bees.

do some web searching for Perone style hives. They are huge hives (280L, 75gallons) and tend to have huge, resilient hives. Apparently, the larger the hives, the more resilient they are to things like varroa.

They also produce more honey, as you gain a geometric increase with the number of bees. So, 100,000 bees produce 4 times the honey as a hive with 50,000 bees.
 
tel jetson
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Abe Connally wrote:do some web searching for Perone style hives. They are huge hives (280L, 75gallons) and tend to have huge, resilient hives. Apparently, the larger the hives, the more resilient they are to things like varroa.


I like Oscar Perone's stuff. one nice part of his method is that he uses Langstroth boxes (I believe), but skips the frames. a lot of beekeepers are resistant to a completely different hive, but if they can use a lot of their existing equipment, I think they'll be more likely to try out more bee-friendly management. I've got a few old Lang bodies hanging around that I've been meaning to try Perone-style with. one thing I wonder about is just how many eggs a queen can lay in a day. there's got to be a limit to colony size based on that number. multiple queens could get beyond that, but that's not exactly simple to execute.

Abe Connally wrote:They also produce more honey, as you gain a geometric increase with the number of bees. So, 100,000 bees produce 4 times the honey as a hive with 50,000 bees.


it's almost a geometric relationship. the proportion of foragers to the rest of the workers increases with population, so the colony can take in more nectar and pollen relative to its size. not entirely sure why that is. it does suggest that workers graduate to foraging more quickly in larger colonies so that a greater portion of their lives is spent on that final task.

regarding manipulating cell size for varroa: I'm not convinced that it helps. there are a fair number of studies that reach conclusions on both sides of that issue. having cut out a fair number of feral hives, I can say that bees use a wide variety of cell sizes when left to their own devices. and I've seen no evidence of varroa in the hives I've cut out. that certainly doesn't mean that small cell size couldn't help, but it does mean that it certainly isn't the only way to deal with varroa as some small-cell enthusiasts insist.

regarding breeding varroa resistant bees: they'll do it themselves if we let them. one of my hives swarmed today. it was easily the biggest swarm I've collected. took up maybe 2/3 of a 5-gallon bucket. almost completely filled one of my Warré boxes. that wouldn't break any records, but it's a pretty big swarm. when I checked the hive it left, it wasn't immediately obvious that there were any fewer bees, which surprised me. the original swarm I placed in that hive issued from a 20-year old feral colony in a chimney. the point of all this is that nobody did any breeding work on these bees, but I haven't been able to spot any evidence of varroa.
 
Abe Connally
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tel jetson wrote:
I like Oscar Perone's stuff. one nice part of his method is that he uses Langstroth boxes (I believe), but skips the frames. a lot of beekeepers are resistant to a completely different hive, but if they can use a lot of their existing equipment, I think they'll be more likely to try out more bee-friendly management. I've got a few old Lang bodies hanging around that I've been meaning to try Perone-style with. one thing I wonder about is just how many eggs a queen can lay in a day. there's got to be a limit to colony size based on that number. multiple queens could get beyond that, but that's not exactly simple to execute.

those really tall hives didn't do so well in the Chile earthquake, so he's changed to a different style, still, very easy to make: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n3bEZgo6qU

You really need to load them with a prime swarm, so you get a fresh queen and a hive that sizes up the huge space, and sets everything in motion to fill it. That's when they do double queens and all sorts of things by themselves.

Abe Connally wrote:They also produce more honey, as you gain a geometric increase with the number of bees. So, 100,000 bees produce 4 times the honey as a hive with 50,000 bees.


tel jetson wrote:it's almost a geometric relationship. the proportion of foragers to the rest of the workers increases with population, so the colony can take in more nectar and pollen relative to its size. not entirely sure why that is. it does suggest that workers graduate to foraging more quickly in larger colonies so that a greater portion of their lives is spent on that final task.

also, other things, like drying honey and ventilation of the hive get more efficient on a larger scale. So, it takes less resources to maintain the hive, thus is more profitable for the bees. I'm sure they do better with robbing and intruders, as well.

To me, it is like with plants. A healthy, vibrant plant is more resistant to just about everything than a weak, sickly one.

tel jetson wrote:regarding manipulating cell size for varroa: I'm not convinced that it helps. there are a fair number of studies that reach conclusions on both sides of that issue. having cut out a fair number of feral hives, I can say that bees use a wide variety of cell sizes when left to their own devices. and I've seen no evidence of varroa in the hives I've cut out. that certainly doesn't mean that small cell size couldn't help, but it does mean that it certainly isn't the only way to deal with varroa as some small-cell enthusiasts insist.

I have yet to find a feral hive with varroa, or I should say, bad varroa. And in my area, the commercial guys are loaded with it. So, something is working for the ferals that is not working for the commercials. I'm thinking it is probably a combination of stress, cell sizes, populations sizes, chemical/pesticide exposure, etc.

tel jetson wrote:
regarding breeding varroa resistant bees: they'll do it themselves if we let them. one of my hives swarmed today. it was easily the biggest swarm I've collected. took up maybe 2/3 of a 5-gallon bucket. almost completely filled one of my Warré boxes. that wouldn't break any records, but it's a pretty big swarm. when I checked the hive it left, it wasn't immediately obvious that there were any fewer bees, which surprised me. the original swarm I placed in that hive issued from a 20-year old feral colony in a chimney. the point of all this is that nobody did any breeding work on these bees, but I haven't been able to spot any evidence of varroa.

that's great on the swarm. You should have hived that in a Perone!!! Seriously, look at the new Perone design, and get one ready for the next big swarm you see.

yeah, I totally agree, if we leave them alone, they will naturally go towards resistant. Unfortunately, in a commercial setting, they are breeding bees artificially and in huge numbers (makes weak queens, IMO), and they are loosing a lots of the genetics our feral bees have.
 
tel jetson
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Abe Connally wrote:that's great on the swarm. You should have hived that in a Perone!!! Seriously, look at the new Perone design, and get one ready for the next big swarm you see.


it's certainly on my list. I watched the video you linked, and that is rather different than the Perone hives I had seen before. the larger footprint and shorter stature will let me fit one in my bee shed, which would likely be too short for the older and taller style. got to go finish building some hives for other folks so I can build a Perone for myself...
 
tel jetson
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one thing that concerns me with Perone management is comb renewal. Warré management involves continually renewing comb, which is of particular importance in agricultural areas where pesticides are used. there's a substantial amount of conventional agriculture near us, and I worry about toxins building up in the wax of the brood nest. I guess I'll find out, though it could take several years before that shows up as a problem.
 
Abe Connally
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yeah, I've wondered about that, too. But, who is out there removing comb in the feral hives?

I asked Oscar about this once, and his reply was that we shouldn't underestimate the ability of the bees to manage themselves in a healthy way. I think there might be some truth to that. I know of a few feral hives that have been around for decades. No one is managing them, yet they are as healthy as ever.

It might be a trade off between invasive management vs potential pesticide danger.

I don't like the Warre system for a few things, but one of which is the constant "going against the grain". Moving bees down, reducing hive size, moving the entire hive; it just seems like we are messing with it too much. These things are in direct conflict of what the bees would do themselves, if given a chance.

I had a chance to remove a wild hive from the attic of an old adobe house a few years back. The bees had their combs hanging from the vigas of the roof. They had been living there, alongside humans, for many years. So, we finally opened up the attic space and discovered a giant hive that completely filled the available space. Combs were 4 ft long, 2 feet high. The entire hive was more than 4 ft by 4 ft, and there had to be 100,000+ bees in there. This was in February, but even then, they had huge stores of honey (more than 15 gallons were removed) and loads of brood. They were extremely docile bees, I guess as a result of being near humans for so long. No varroa or any signs of stress. After that, I was convinced Perone was on the right track. No one managed these bees, no one did anything with them for many, many years, yet they were thriving, even at the worst time of the year for bees.

The sad part of that story is that the queen was lost, and the hive eventually died out. I still hope and wish that some of their genes exist around here, somewhere, as they were, by far, the most perfect hive I have ever seen.
 
tel jetson
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one thing I'm not clear on regarding Perone: is a swarm hived in the whole stack from the beginning, or is it given time to fill up the brood nest before the supers are added?
 
Abe Connally
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I've seen it done both ways, though Oscar suggests putting a swarm in the whole stack. The supers are left on there all the time. You take them off once to harvest, and then put them right back on there.

If you do decide to build the new, shorter design, do yourself a favor and make each super split into 2 boxes. One of those big supers weighs 33 kg (73 lbs) filled with honey. So, instead of a super that is 57cm square, you have 2 supers on each level, and each is 57cm by 28.5cm. That way, you can remove one-half a super at a time, and it will be lighter (probably around 16kg/35lbs).

I don't think the exact dimensions are really necessary. You could make the box whatever is convenient to you. Just make sure you give them a total hive space of at least 280L (74 gallons).
 
tel jetson
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Abe Connally wrote:I've seen it done both ways, though Oscar suggests putting a swarm in the whole stack. The supers are left on there all the time. You take them off once to harvest, and then put them right back on there.


that's interesting. seems like if the supers are designed to be too shallow to appeal to the bees for brood comb, it could be potentially problematic to start with the whole stack. I've never seen bees start building from anywhere but the top of a cavity. so they would have to build all the way down through that whole stack to get to the big brood chamber in the bottom.

and half-supers: are there comb guides/top bars between each half, or just between every stack of two halves? if they're only between every two, how does removing half at a time work? with such a big footprint, I would think there could be serious problems with comb collapse on the halves without comb guides on top.

just wrapping up a big hive order today. I hope to get started on this project tomorrow.
 
Abe Connally
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they would start building in the bottom space, because a swarm always starts with brood first.

for the half-supers, make a set of top bars for each half, so you can just remove one half at a time. So, basically, you are splitting each super level in half, box and top bars, too. It's just to avoid having to lift 75 lbs at once.
 
tel jetson
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Abe Connally wrote:they would start building in the bottom space, because a swarm always starts with brood first.


hmm. I've never seen a swarm start building at the bottom of a cavity first. they build from the top first and move the brood nest down as they go. I certainly haven't seen every swarm ever, but I've seen a good number.

still plugging away on some Warrés...
 
Abe Connally
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well, they aren't starting at the bottom, they would be starting in the middle. And to them, it looks like the top, because above it is very small gaps and spaces.

Try it and see what happens!
 
tel jetson
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Abe Connally wrote:well, they aren't starting at the bottom, they would be starting in the middle. And to them, it looks like the top, because above it is very small gaps and spaces.


that makes sense. I've never used really shallow supers, so I'm running up against some holes in my experience. I'm excited, though.
 
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