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Thermosolar hive for control of Verroa

 
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Have any of you seen this? My husband showed this to me. We are still in the research phase of bee keeping. What are your thoughts?
 
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Other beekeeping sites I go on are all very sceptical plus it cost a lot of money .
Will it cook the bees ? Many of us believe that the inside of the hive is a special place full of pheromones etc and to introduce such a device is problematic.
My suggestion is that you look for a local beekeeper who raises there own bees NOT packages and buy some from him/her . Try using A Warré hive or similar .
You can make your own hives at a fraction of the price of this machine .

David
 
Liz Gattry
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Fair enough- but with a plain glass top and a thermometer wouldn't it be relatively simple to make something similar (obviously adjusting for temperature we wouldn't want it to go above?).

I know varroa is really problematic and I think it's an interesting control, especially since many of the acaricides (mite killers) being potentially toxic to the bees themselves as well as becoming less and less effective. :/
 
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My poor bees seem to spend quite enough time in the summer collecting water to cool their hives. I don't think I'd be comfortable increasing their workload.
 
David Livingston
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I personally believe that the acaricides are not potentially toxic they ARE toxic !
Its really about control . I trust my bees to control the temperature in their hive they have been bees a lot longer than me they know what they are doing .
Its like the bee dance , humans think they know how bees communicate by watching them dance and can work out things like when one bee is telling another where the best flowers are. However in the hive its dark so how can the other bees see the dance ? Scent ? Vibration ? We dont know really .
 
Liz Gattry
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So how do you control for varroa?
 
David Livingston
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I dont I let the bees do it .
Many beekeepers are rejecting the invasive techniques, the treatment and just letting the bees get on with it .
Also rejecting the use of packages , common I know in the USA , as doomed to failure .
The great Dr David Heaf on the subject

his web site http://warre.biobees.com/

See also http://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org/#!blank-5/wzfzn
Micheal Bush


There are a number of Warré bee keepers in the San Fransisco area

David


 
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I think that hive is very interesting, and I wouldn't think it would contribute to the mite problem the way chemical treatments would
 
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Actually the thermosolar hive has the same fundamental issues as chemical treatments. When we artificially cull the varroa population - regardless of if it is chemical, mechanical, or in this case thermal - we disrupt the balance in the hive. This supports populations of bees with weak genetics and selects for mites which reproduce rapidly to expand their numbers again.

As with all other treatments for varroa, it benefits the individual hive in the short term, but at the expense of allowing natural selection to work effectively on the species as a whole.

It is much better to let nature take its course and breed from the bees that survive varroa, rather than prop up weak colonies. Many people are using these techniques successfully, and there is a very active facebook group of treatment free beekeepers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/treatmentfreebeekeepers/
 
Todd Parr
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Michael Cox wrote:Actually the thermosolar hive has the same fundamental issues as chemical treatments. When we artificially cull the varroa population - regardless of if it is chemical, mechanical, or in this case thermal - we disrupt the balance in the hive. This supports populations of bees with weak genetics and selects for mites which reproduce rapidly to expand their numbers again.

As with all other treatments for varroa, it benefits the individual hive in the short term, but at the expense of allowing natural selection to work effectively on the species as a whole.

It is much better to let nature take its course and breed from the bees that survive varroa, rather than prop up weak colonies. Many people are using these techniques successfully, and there is a very active facebook group of treatment free beekeepers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/treatmentfreebeekeepers/



While that is somewhat true, at least this type hive doesn't contribute to the problem of creating ever more chemical resistant mites. It also doesn't select for mites that "reproduce rapidly to expand their numbers" if it can actually kill 100% of the mites.

I personally don't treat my bees, but I also think there is the possibility that rather than evolving to the point of being able to overcome the mites, bees could just lose the battle with them. Nature doesn't care if the bees win, or the mites do. I know two bee keepers that live very near me. One treats, and he lost 2 hives of 800 this year. The other is a small beekeeper with 30 years experience who switched to treatment free this year. He lost all 12 of his hives to mites. Obviously, I'm hoping to establish bees that can survive without treatment, and without feeding. I handle my hives accordingly. One of my hives made it through their first winter and seems to be doing well so far this year. At the same time, I realize that "It is much better to let nature take its course..." is only true if we don't lose the honeybees while trying to do so.
 
Michael Cox
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Todd Parr wrote:

Michael Cox wrote:Actually the thermosolar hive has the same fundamental issues as chemical treatments. When we artificially cull the varroa population - regardless of if it is chemical, mechanical, or in this case thermal - we disrupt the balance in the hive. This supports populations of bees with weak genetics and selects for mites which reproduce rapidly to expand their numbers again.

As with all other treatments for varroa, it benefits the individual hive in the short term, but at the expense of allowing natural selection to work effectively on the species as a whole.

It is much better to let nature take its course and breed from the bees that survive varroa, rather than prop up weak colonies. Many people are using these techniques successfully, and there is a very active facebook group of treatment free beekeepers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/treatmentfreebeekeepers/



While that is somewhat true, at least this type hive doesn't contribute to the problem of creating ever more chemical resistant mites. It also doesn't select for mites that "reproduce rapidly to expand their numbers" if it can actually kill 100% of the mites.

I personally don't treat my bees, but I also think there is the possibility that rather than evolving to the point of being able to overcome the mites, bees could just lose the battle with them. Nature doesn't care if the bees win, or the mites do. I know two bee keepers that live very near me. One treats, and he lost 2 hives of 800 this year. The other is a small beekeeper with 30 years experience who switched to treatment free this year. He lost all 12 of his hives to mites. Obviously, I'm hoping to establish bees that can survive without treatment, and without feeding. I handle my hives accordingly. One of my hives made it through their first winter and seems to be doing well so far this year. At the same time, I realize that "It is much better to let nature take its course..." is only true if we don't lose the honeybees while trying to do so.



It can't kill 100% of the mites. For a start some of the population of a hive are outside the colony on foragers or on drones at any one point. Even if it did manage to kill every mite within the structure of the hive, the colony would be immediately reinfected by mites drifting from other colonies. SO what selection pressure does this put on mites? Surely mites that spend more time outside of their host hive become selected for (to avoid the heat treatment, and to increase the chances of reinfecting a hive that is treated). The mites that drift into a newly cleansed colony then breed explosively... this is where the seletion for rapid breeding comes in.

And finally, why do you believe that varroa will wipe out bees? Historically this is not what has happened with other parasitic species that have made the jump to honey bees. Tracheal mites wiped out bee populations from about 1905 to 1925 in the UK - known at the time as Isle of Wight Disease. There were no treatments for Isle of Wight disease and by some estimates 95% of colonies were lost. The colonies that survived showed resistance to the mites and were bred from, such that now tracheal mites are an innocuous parasite cohabiting with bees that causes no problems.

Why hasn't varroa reached a similar equilibrium, given it has had more time to do so than it took for Isle of Wight disease to be beaten? Quite simply it is because we treated to save individual hives, rather than to selectively breed for bees with resistances.

In countries where treatments for varroa never became popular - for instance poor african nations - their bees suffered for a few years but varroa is now a non-issue for them. Some developed countries are now starting to catch up, but faced with an overwhelmingly large population of treated bees the progress is slow.
 
Todd Parr
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Michael Cox wrote:It can't kill 100% of the mites. For a start some of the population of a hive are outside the colony on foragers or on drones at any one point. Even if it did manage to kill every mite within the structure of the hive, the colony would be immediately reinfected by mites drifting from other colonies. SO what selection pressure does this put on mites? Surely mites that spend more time outside of their host hive become selected for (to avoid the heat treatment, and to increase the chances of reinfecting a hive that is treated). The mites that drift into a newly cleansed colony then breed explosively... this is where the seletion for rapid breeding comes in.

And finally, why do you believe that varroa will wipe out bees? Historically this is not what has happened with other parasitic species that have made the jump to honey bees. Tracheal mites wiped out bee populations from about 1905 to 1925 in the UK - known at the time as Isle of Wight Disease. There were no treatments for Isle of Wight disease and by some estimates 95% of colonies were lost. The colonies that survived showed resistance to the mites and were bred from, such that now tracheal mites are an innocuous parasite cohabiting with bees that causes no problems.

Why hasn't varroa reached a similar equilibrium, given it has had more time to do so than it took for Isle of Wight disease to be beaten? Quite simply it is because we treated to save individual hives, rather than to selectively breed for bees with resistances.

In countries where treatments for varroa never became popular - for instance poor african nations - their bees suffered for a few years but varroa is now a non-issue for them. Some developed countries are now starting to catch up, but faced with an overwhelmingly large population of treated bees the progress is slow.



I don't know whether it can kill 100% of the mites. They say they can, and I have no evidence either way. I also don't know that the colony would be immediately reinfected. I have one colony of bees and I live in a very rural area. The closest person I know that has bees is 10 or 12 miles from here. Are there wild bees close to me that are affected with mites? Maybe, maybe not. Even if it is a fact that my hive would be immediately reinfected, I don't think my hive is going to put much selection pressure on anything, no matter what I do.

I also never said I believe varroa will wipe out bees. I said I don't know which will overcome which. Neither do you and neither does anyone else. Obviously I'm hopeful that the bees will indeed adapt and overcome. That's one of the reasons I don't treat. Maybe you're right that the reason bees haven't adapted to these mites is because people treat them and prop up weak populations, and maybe you're wrong and if no one treated, honeybees would be extinct by now. No one can say with certainty. The only thing I can say is that if this hive kills varroa mites simply by heating the hive for a couple of hours and uses no chemicals and it has no harmful effects on the bees or the honey, I would be interested in trying it. I assume my friend that lost every hive to mites the first year he didn't treat might be interested too.
 
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I think this new hive design is very interesting. At the same time, this here makes a lot of sense:

Michael Cox wrote:It is much better to let nature [natural selection] take its course and breed from the bees that survive varroa, rather than prop up weak colonies.

 
Liz Gattry
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I'm really glad I asked about this as I've learned a lot just reading the responses.

Being scientifically minded- if I have space in the future I may set up an equal number of these hives and Warre hives and just see how it goes for a few years. But then by that time we'd probably have more information on this and my question may have already been answered.
 
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I drew up some plans for a solar heated beehive. Not for varroa mites but to keep them warm in winter. I have the electronic & mechanical skills to control temps accurately & automatically. It would be a fun project but when I thought about it more decided it was a bad idea. A very bad idea. Sooner or later every man made thing WILL fail. In this particular case all the bees would probably die. Not the result I strive for.
 
Michael Cox
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Mike Barkley wrote:I drew up some plans for a solar heated beehive. Not for varroa mites but to keep them warm in winter. I have the electronic & mechanical skills to control temps accurately & automatically. It would be a fun project but when I thought about it more decided it was a bad idea. A very bad idea. Sooner or later every man made thing WILL fail. In this particular case all the bees would probably die. Not the result I strive for.



If it WORKS your bees will die.

Bees need to be in tune with their external environment during winter.

  • Air temperatures control their activity levels, and when they drop sufficiently they enter a state called "torpor" (think - insects hibernating). When in torpor they pretty much shut down their metabolisms, drastically reducing the amount of food the consume.


  • This also reduces the amount of waste that builds up in their guts. When it is potentially three months until it gets warm enough for you to fly outside and take a crap this is important! Come spring up to half of a bees mass can be poop!


  • If the temperature of the nest is artificially elevated, the bees will break torpor, feed more, and they may try to go on cleansing flights when the outside conditions are not suitable. If this happens bees fly from the hive and freeze to death before returning.


  • In many climates winter is a time when the queen stops laying. This is important as it gives a brood break, when all the varroa mites are phoretic and the bees have a chance to attack them and reduce their numbers. Colonies where winters are more mild attempt to raise bees right through the winter, in reduced numbers. Thus the mites also continue reproducing and their numbers can grow to collapse the colony.


  • All that bees really need to survive winter - even very harsh winters - is a hive design that is appropriately insulative (polyhives are vastly superior than wood for this) and plentiful winter stores.
     
    Mike Barkley
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    If it WORKS your bees will die.  



    Yes, there's that problem too. Just not a good idea from any perspective.
     
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    Yeah, I am with Michael on this one.

    The "no one knows" argument is defeatist (I know it was years ago, but it is still bugging me). We can't know for certain that the nerve impulses we're receiving that make up our experiential existence aren't being generated in some giant simulation and fed to our disembodied brains so they can be used as computers by a non-human race. I don't know. You don't know. Nobody can know. You see where I'm going with this.

    Furthermore, such an argument after Michael has gone through the logic of breeding mite-resistant honey bees, as per the historical example of Isle of Wight disease, is dismissive and illogical. The most compelling explanation, considering the lack of varroa mites in nations without treatment programs, is that saving honey bees genetically inadequate to handle the varroa mite issue, and then breeding them with eachother to produce more varroa-vulnerable honeybees, not only results in a greater number of susceptible honeybees, but also a greater number of varroa mites to spread to vulnerable hives.

    The neighbour who treats his 800 hives and lost two would undoubtedly experience a near-total loss, as the neighbour with 12 hives did, in his first year of trying to raise bees that have been bred to be incapable of existing without treatment.

    As to the subject of this thread, again, Michael makes a lot of sense. Let's let the bees keep their own hive equilibria, and let's try to enforce what they do as much as possible without interfering.

    I have an idea: let's try not spraying poisons in the climate-controlled homes of these very sensitive insects. While we're at it, maybe we can stop spraying toxic and addictive substances all over their food sources. And maybe it would be a good idea to make sure there's something planted for them to eat when they're shipped off to almond deserts and other monocrops with a dearth of bee forage.

    I don't think the answer is very difficult. The damned-near-impossible thing to do is to make the needs of bees and the profit motives of humans coexist. That is the real threat to bees, and all life.

    -CK
     
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    There should be a point where its warm enough to survive, but still cold enough where they dont say "IT'S SPRING,  LET'S GO OUTSIDE!

    Im thinking something like an envelope house. Where the air hitting the hive is maybe 30 degrees instead of -20. Its still winter to them, but the winter can be managed by their normal methods to keep warm.

    Worthy experiment if you're in an area that hives are killed from extreme cold.
     
    Michael Cox
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    wayne fajkus wrote:

    There should be a point where its warm enough to survive, but still cold enough where they dont say "IT'S SPRING,  LET'S GO OUTSIDE!

    Im thinking something like an envelope house. Where the air hitting the hive is maybe 30 degrees instead of -20. Its still winter to them, but the winter can be managed by their normal methods to keep warm.

    Worthy experiment if you're in an area that hives are killed from extreme cold.



    There is, and it is done in some northern regions. Some big commercial beekeepers maintain climate controlled warehouses and move their bees into them for the winter. These warehouses are designed to keep them COLD not warm.

    A few thoughts  - this is drifting far away from what I would consider permaculture principles. If your bees cannot cope with your climate you need different bees, or different equipment or both. Look at Joseph Lofthouse's work on seeds that grow well in his climate conditions. He is adapting his plants to his conditions, rather than trying to adapt the conditions to the plants. Bees are incredibly versatile and in a few generations can evolve to local conditions.

    Also, most people trying to preserve their bees from cold are using thin walled wooden hives in extremely cold climates. These hives simply don't have enough insualtion designed in from the start. Then they come up with over the top designs for winterisation, rather than going back an reflecting on their choice of equipment.

    And lastly, it is essentially true that cold doesn't kill bees. They have many different adaptations that allow them to cope with cold, including clustering, torpor, shivering for warmth, storing winter food etc... Cold is frequently blamed for colony losses that are actually attributable to other factors - starvation, mites, condensation problems etc.
     
    Mike Barkley
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    Where the air hitting the hive is maybe 30 degrees instead of -20. Its still winter to them, but the winter can be managed by their normal methods to keep warm.  



    That's the exact info I was never able to find anywhere when I searched several years ago. So then decided if a hive or five dies that's just natural selection at work. So be it.

    I have an idea: let's try not spraying poisons in the climate-controlled homes of these very sensitive insects. While we're at it, maybe we can stop spraying toxic and addictive substances all over their food sources. And maybe it would be a good idea to make sure there's something planted for them to eat when they're shipped off to almond deserts and other monocrops with a dearth of bee forage.



    Three cheers for that!
     
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    I'm in my fifth or six year of beekeeping and have never treated.  A beehive in it's natural state has a debris floor to the best of my knowledge.  I don't think it's natural not to have one cause one of the ways bees control mites is to groom them off and where would they fall? A debris pile of course.  And what type of floors do most standard hives have? Solid bottom board, does this make sense? Doesn't to me and that's why I use freeman trays, I.E., screen bottom boards with oil tray.  This method and natural selection has worked for me, now I just need to raise queens from my best hives.
     
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    Jeff Wesolowski wrote:I'm in my fifth or six year of beekeeping and have never treated.  A beehive in it's natural state has a debris floor to the best of my knowledge.  I don't think it's natural not to have one cause one of the ways bees control mites is to groom them off and where would they fall? A debris pile of course.  And what type of floors do most standard hives have? Solid bottom board, does this make sense? Doesn't to me and that's why I use freeman trays, I.E., screen bottom boards with oil tray.  This method and natural selection has worked for me, now I just need to raise queens from my best hives.



    The hive I am building right now is a Perrone hive that has a screen bottom.  I'm building a base of cement blocks to keep the the bottom of the hive off the ground and putting a layer of wood chips (I'm thinking 6 inches or so currently) inside the block foundation.  Best case scenario is that the mites and debris will fall through the screen and hopefully be eaten by whatever organisms will live in the wood chips.  If that doesn't happen, just removing them from the hive when they come off the bees should help I would think.  I'm going to buy a package or two of bees and set up swarm traps to try to get more in the spring, but I'm not sure how many hives I can have built by then.
     
    Chris Kott
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    What if, instead of wood chips, you had a diatomaceous earth dust bath for any mites or beetles to be kicked out? There would be no question of their deaths. And if it was a space large enough to admit a chicken or two, that would be a chicken buffet with a built-in dustbath.

    -CK
     
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    Chris Kott wrote:What if, instead of wood chips, you had a diatomaceous earth dust bath for any mites or beetles to be kicked out? There would be no question of their deaths. And if it was a space large enough to admit a chicken or two, that would be a chicken buffet with a built-in dustbath.

    -CK



    I considered DE, but my concern is that it may kill off the good organisms as well as the bad.  I have no idea if that is a valid concern.

    It wouldn't be hard for me to make the base a couple of courses higher than I planned to and leave an opening for chickens to get in and out of the foundation.  It would make the hive about 8 feet tall :)  I could close the opening off in the winter to alleviate snow and cold wind blowing into the hive.  A small opening to the outside air may help stop moisture from building up in the hive.  

    Do chickens eat bees?  I would hate to have them figure out they can just sit in front of the hive picking them off as they land.
     
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    I've never had any problems whatsoever with chickens eating bees. I've also had some beekeepers with 30+ years experience say that chickens will gladly eat any mites or beetles that fall through. Considered giving that a try but that would require keeping the chickens penned in around around the bees. Not going to do that. There are better ways for pest control. None of which require chemicals, etc. That will just make matters worse. A lengthy topic for elsewhere. If I did Fbook I definitely would have read Michael Cox's info there long ago.





     
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