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Beehive - Deep Litter Method - Any thoughts?

 
Emily Cressey
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Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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Hi there,

I saw an interesting video from Phil Chandler showing an add-on for a top bar hive that was like a removable "trough" that he called a deep litter system for bees.

It was meant to be filled with sticks, earwigs and other natural materials - reminiscent of a rotting log - with the idea that this might be an important part of the hive eco system.

This was an alternative to a screened floor or solid wood floor - the idea was that the bugs down below might be predators of bee parasites.

Has anyone ever tried this? Any results?

Any theories to suggest whether this would be a good idea?
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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seems like a reasonable idea. it would sort of approximate a situation common in wild or feral tree cavity hives. some Warré beekeepers use an empty box below the entrance for just such an arrangement. debris that would otherwise fall onto the bottom board and be removed by the bees instead collects in the sump.
 
Ernie Schmidt
Posts: 81
Location: Olympia, Washington
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Hi Emily,
The idea does make sense. I can only offer my own experiences with something like this. I made one of my Top Bars with a screen bottom board and I built in a sliding board about an inch under the screen. My intent was to slide the board out periodically checking for Varroa mites. This colony has been healthy and strong for years now and, (I know, my bad) I wasn't able to "manage" it like I should have. When I peek into it now, the fantastic thing is that they built the combs perfectly on the bars and after a few years of not pulling the sliding board out, the debris has built up to where now the screen is covered. So the debris is over an inch deep. This is one of my healthiest hives, it is my second oldest continuous living hive. "Continuous living" to me means a live colony every year, not necessarily the same queen as most my hives swarm regularly. I don't think organisms that harm bees hang out in the debris, I think it is mostly scavengers living on what falls down to them. In a balanced natural hive the scavengers are probably more like opportunists and don't do anything to mess up the "grocery store" over them. A healthy hive would usually rid the hive of any organisms that weren't symbiotic, if they can.
 
Ernie Schmidt
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Location: Olympia, Washington
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I very seldom post back to back. I hope this link works. This is what I hope lives in the bottom of my hives. Absolutely incredible.

http://www.beenature-project.com/shop/page/4?sessid=EzaNUdHZDcVB1BXgUS3CBRSknIyhtrlwuMRQ2oxJXXRhMDEYSaTq4T9PKvkwxv&shop_param
 
D. Logan
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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Ernie Schmidt wrote:I very seldom post back to back. I hope this link works. This is what I hope lives in the bottom of my hives. Absolutely incredible.

http://www.beenature-project.com/shop/page/4?sessid=EzaNUdHZDcVB1BXgUS3CBRSknIyhtrlwuMRQ2oxJXXRhMDEYSaTq4T9PKvkwxv&shop_param


This is really interesting information. Thank you for the link! I'll have to remember these little guys.
 
Emily Cressey
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Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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Very cool to see the magnified pictures of the book scorpions de-lousing the varroa mites from the bees!

I hope I get some, too!

Emily
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Image from that link, and a brief summary.

The varroa mites are clearly visible on the bee. Once the bee died the book scorpion moved in and killed then ate the mite. This was under artificial conditions (bee and scorpions confined in a light glass container - the bee was agitated and looking for an escape) and it is thought that the scorpions actually can hunt for mites on live bees when in the dark of the hive.

Modern hive construction and methods - especially treatments for varroa mites - interrupts the life cycle of the scorpions, which is from 12 to 18 months. You can breed them outside of bee hive and introduce them when sufficient numbers have been raised, around 100 to 150 per colony to balance the varroa population.

Facinating work and well worth further investigating. Interesting potential to breed the scorpions and supply them as an organic varroa control to beekeepers.
 
Emily Cressey
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Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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I couldn't figure out how to get the book scorpions to breed them... Wouldn't that be a fun permies-specific home business. I posted on the author's youtube channel to get more information about this. I'll let you know if I find out more.
 
David Irby
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Location: Locust Grove, VA
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tel jetson wrote:seems like a reasonable idea. it would sort of approximate a situation common in wild or feral tree cavity hives. some Warré beekeepers use an empty box below the entrance for just such an arrangement. debris that would otherwise fall onto the bottom board and be removed by the bees instead collects in the sump.


If I wanted to try this should I just leave the bottom box on the ground and open to the earth or should it just be an empty box on the bottom board with an entrance at the top?
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Location: southwest Washington state
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I've got a few bee trees on our farm so I've had the opportunity to study up on this situation in the wild.

We got these "bee trees" after the tree had been cut down and then the tree owner found a downed hive still in the tree. They called us and we went and brought a section of the tree home. The deep litter on the bottom of the hive seems to be a very important part of a tree hive. In my book I talk about the "fallaway" (the word the bees use) that IS part of their immune system within the hive, a place where things not wanted up in the hive proper are disposed of, and that the fallaway then becomes home to all kinds of bugs, bacteria and even specific fungi. I believe they are all important to the bees' environment and a key reason why feral hives do so well.

Jacqueline
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Oh my gosh, this is off topic, but is that a scorpion? We found one of those on the floor of one of our rooms here in Ladakh two years ago, and I never knew what it was! Wow. It was teeny; in this picture you can see how small it is compared to the texture of newspaper. I haven't seen one again.

Okay, edited: Thank you to those who mentioned the name "Book Scorpion" above. Now I've googled it, and found all kinds of things, including why they are a book-lover's best friend, and they are an arachnid.
Scorpion like bug 60 a.jpg
[Thumbnail for Scorpion like bug 60 a.jpg]
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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