Marc Troyka

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since Jul 02, 2012
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Recent posts by Marc Troyka

No, microwaves cannot affect things which are smaller than the wavelength. For example small insects such as fruit flies and ants are too small to absorb microwaves so if they're the only thing in the microwave you can turn it on and absolutely nothing happens to them. Even smaller things like bacteria and viruses are not affected at all.

Microwaves do, however, heat food. Food is generally bigger than the wavelength so it can absorb the microwaves and heats up. The heat and steam and whatnot that results does kill microbes. Since the heating is local, the rest of the microwave and possibly even the plate or bowl may not be sterilized either. Microwaves are tuned to a wavelength that's absorbed highly by water and fat, but most anything else won't get hot except indirectly.
2 years ago

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:It sounds like a UV meter test on just the carrot seed oil, as I think it was done for the raspberry seed oil, is what might be needed!

One thing nobody has mentioned here is that both carrot seed oil and raspberry seed oil are extremely, ridiculously expensive.

It is also possible to use antioxidants (grape, tea, milkweed, cocoa liquor, vit C, vit E, ferulic acid) to prevent damage from UV. The antioxidants don't actually reflect or absorb the UV, but they soak up oxidants created by them and suppress sunburn all the same.

They can also be combined, although honestly it depends on how much UV absorbent oil it takes to make an effective sunscreen. If you only need a small amount then it might be cost effective.

I think aloe deserves some extra attention as well. If the aloe only works if it's in a thick opaque layer then it might not actually be effective when rubbed on your skin.

There are just too many unknowns here to make a meaningful judgment. It's certainly promising though.
4 years ago

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I didn't fully watch the HTME video Marc posted above, and while I did find the UV camera they were using interesting (and funny!) I don't know that a UV camera alone proves very much about SPF. Did they determine a better test at the end of that video? Is that where they confirmed raspberry seed oil and aloe vera (whole unfiltered juice)? At least in the HTME video you see the raspberry seed oil actually being pressed and not distilled, so you see that is an oil and not an essential oil.

At the end he does a UV-pass test with a UV meter to measure the effective SPF of all the ingredients, and he uses commercial sunscreens as a control to verify that it's working properly.
4 years ago

Dan Boone wrote:One of the other ingredients in the product turned out to be "yashad bhasm" which, she found out, is nothing other than our old friend zinc oxide.

Go figure. Well at least raspberry oil and aloe are confirmed.
4 years ago
Raspberry oil has an SPF of around 30, which is admittedly not bad. Apparently aloe vera, if you extract it directly from the plant without filtering or clarifying it, has an even higher SPF of around 50. I don't know if the gel alone actually does anything.
4 years ago
This is the second case I've heard of where roundup has been the most likely culprit to a bee kill. It's also (finally) been demonstrated to cause cancer in humans with occupational exposure and on agriculturally adjacent land.
6 years ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
In my community, there are a number of treatment free bee-keepers. They swap germplasm with each other.  I hold them in the highest esteem.

Keep in mind that a single breeding program requires about 1000 hives to produce a single genetically diverse, stable variety of bees. That's only about enough to supply one US state with queens sustainably.

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Seems to me, like there is a tremendous incentive for the corporations to sell susceptible bees. It's the same old routine of "planned obsolescence", or "hybrids won't breed true". Just a way to keep people coming back year after year for fresh bees.

No, I don't think that's it at all. There are really two major issues that prevent breeders from pursuing parasite resistance.

The first is that it's a royal pain in the butt. Screening for brood diseases is super easy, just pull a few frames of brood, shake the bees off and look for anything out of place. With a glance you can tell if a hive is sick and to what extent. With parasites every single screening procedure is a ridiculous pain.

For example varroa is the easiest, which involves taking a frame of brood and shaking the bees into a bucket, taking a scoop of bees (preferably not the ones that fly off immediately so you get nurse bees), dumping them into a cup of rubbing alcohol, swirling it for 30 seconds and counting all the mites that drop to the bottom of the cup.

Nosema is even worse, you have to vacuum up forager bees that are returning to the hive and dump them into alcohol, then squash out their guts an examine the contents under a microscope, which is about 20 individual bees per hive.

I have no idea how you even test for tracheal mites, but I can only assume it's even more of a pain than nosema.

The second major issue is that bee research (and breeding development) receives only 1/10 of the funding that other livestock get. That is, for every dollar that cow breeders get to shave more brain cells off of black angus or to create a new holstein that's even better at living in a cage, beekeepers only get 10 cents, in spite of how important bees are to the pollination of so many major crops. Most bee research is carried out based on donations, and major breeders have no hope of getting the funding they need to carry out the expensive and time consuming screening needed to breed parasite resistant bees.

Beekeepers don't even buy most of their queens or bees from breeders. Most of the time they just buy from other beekeepers, the more skilled of which can triple their stocks in a year if they so desire. Most of them have to split their stocks every year just to keep them from swarming off before the pollination season starts up. If beekeepers buy from breeders it's typically for special purposes. For example to requeen a bunch of hives and they want to bring in new genetics, or because they're buying special genetics like VSH, or maybe they want to jump start a bunch of new hives for an intensive round of pollination so they buy a bunch of bulk bees and queens and dump them out in front of hives (which can build up faster than nucs). For the price of a breeder queen they could probably buy a whole nuc or box of bees from the surplus of their peers.

Also production queens from breeders DO breed true, but they're mainly breeding for color (like it matters!), gentleness and early build up for migratory pollination (which btw is unsuitable for cold climates, although you can get russians for that and they're even parasite resistant).

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Survival of the fittest coupled with farmer directed selection is at the core of all of my breeding projects. I don't worry about throwing away genetic diversity within my crops, because I start with genetically diverse strains,  and I can add new genetics whenever I feel like it. And with something like bees that mate on the wing, there are plenty of opportunities for ongoing out-crossing. It's easy enough to include Africanized traits in my breeding projects, plenty of those traits come back with bees that have traveled to the Almond orchards.

That's neither here nor there. Interbreeding with other people's bees and ferals is pretty much inevitable for migratory beekeepers, but if they weren't treating they'd end up losing maybe 90% of their stocks and their genetic diversity along with them (not to mention flood feral populations and hobbyists with an unmanageable varroa infestation and other collapse-related conditions). Crops and bees also have very different situations when it comes to breeding and selection, for example there are very few breeding programs focusing on locally climate adapted bees, and it's much easier to take a shotgun approach for selecting crop varieties for local adaptation. With bees you need a strong feral population with a healthy relationship to local breeding programs to achieve that, not to mention the varieties of bees that are imported from their native regions tend to be extremely limited. Primarily only carniolans and italians are used, out of some 6 major varieties that are well adapted for warm climates (italian, north+south greeks, iberians, caucasians, egyptians) and 3 for cold climates (carniolans, germans, russians) and at least 3 for tropical climates (egyptians, saharans, africans), which could be directly or indirectly intermixed. Compare that to hundreds of varieties of tomatoes or melons available for breeding locally adapted stock (the loss of which generally wouldn't produce large scale negative side effects like dying bees do).
6 years ago

Michael Cox wrote:And fundamentally, all treatments miss the major point which is that bees have the genetic tools needed to resist varroa on their own. For the species as a whole to develop resistance we need to stop treatments and allow natural selection to take its course. It is only in parts of the world where beekeepers can afford treatments that varroa continues to be a problem.

That's not entirely accurate. "Live and let die" has several issues as a breeding program. First of all most european bees have poor innate varroa resistance that takes more breeding effort to solidify and dig out the necessary traits, while only africanized bees have the innate resistance that allowed them to adapt quickly. When you let colonies die you're effectively throwing away whatever beneficial traits they had, which might include disease resistant traits that just weren't strong enough on their own, productivity, gentleness, and potential resistance to future pests/diseases. Keep in mind that the cheapest way to resist varroa is simply to limit drone production and raise minimal brood, which is not particularly good if you want strong colonies and good honey production!

Also if you let colonies die out naturally you'll be spreading a heavy mite load onto other colonies (from forager emigration and robbing) and selecting for highly virulent mites that kill their hosts. You won't just be doing harm to your own bees, but also to other people's bees and feral colonies as well. This is considered bad practice and may potentially (and rightfully) get you into trouble. At the very least you need to test your bees and kill off dying hives early before they turn into rotting zombified plague-spreading corpses.

The dumb thing is, that it would only take 10 years for the commercial queen breeders to produce a varroa/nosema/tracheal mite resistant bee (ie 'treatment free') if they actually bothered to, and we've had varroa around for 30 years. The real problem is that commercial apiaries have spent the last 30 years addicted to chemical treatments rather than demanding that breeders produce resistant bees. Of course, once we've managed to breed mites that are resistant to all the available treatments that will likely change (and it won't be long!). Fun fact, if half the breeders in the US did this then it would exceed all of the government-sponsored varroa-resistance breeding programs in the entire world combined.

Moral of the story, if you want to go treatment-free then buy resistant queens. VSH queens are already available in carniolan, italian and russian varieties (although that's only one resistance trait out of the four or so that are known), and if you live near texas I've heard there's someone there who bred treatment-free bees starting in 1991 and hasn't had to treat since 1998.
6 years ago