unmedicated hives for 4 years still alive

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by raymilosh, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    Hi all
    i had 12 hives of bees that I kept for a few years. I had a lot of trouble losing them to mites, as do we all. Anyhow, I basically abandoned them while building a house 4 years ago.
    there are still 3 hives alive. I am thinking i am surprised that any survived.
    Is that unusual that they have made it for so long with no outside care whatsoever?
    neighbors keep bugging me to teach them about bees, so I'll be starting up with caring for them again this spring, but in the meantime, i was wondering if I may have some bees that are a bit resistant to mites.
     
  2. Jack Parr

    Jack Parr Well-Known Member

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    Since you abandoned the hives for a few years you don't know for sure that the three hives going are from the original set ups. The bees could have died off and new swarms could have installed themselves over and over. IMO there is no real conclusion that can derived from this. It is said that if there is no attempt at controlling the V. mites a hive will perish after two years. I dunno, since my bee experience is very short.

    I am surprised that the wax moths have not set up shop in your hives??? Do you see any signs of wax moth destruction??? I have seen old boxes that have been attacked by wax moths, appearently, over and over. There will be tunnels dug into the wood of the hive and those should be quite visible. Of course wax moths need wax and once they have consumed all the wax in a box they too, will perish I'm thinking. However from the mess I have seen from a recent wax moth infestation I am thinking that bees would not return to such a hive. Then again I don't know.

    Somehow bees seem to overcome adversity and soldier on. :bow:

    Post back with your findings after you inspect all the hive boxes.
     

  3. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    I have had the hives in sight these past 4 years. The bulk of the hives died within a year or two. the last 3, however have been continuously inhabited the whole time. I have inspected several of the dead hives over the past few years and of course, the wax moths and mice have taken over in all of those.
     
  4. beaglady

    beaglady Well-Known Member

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    So, are you going to make splits from them in the spring? You may have resistant bees.
     
  5. raymilosh

    raymilosh Well-Known Member

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    If any of the colonies look really strong or decide they'd like to swarm, then yup, I guess i will make a split. As I recall, though, hives of mine have always done just OK and just keeping the number of hives constant after winter losses has been a challenge. It used to seem to me that splitting in the past would be hard on the bees.
    Now that I'm rambling about it, though...I do have 3 hives that have lived for 4 years all on their own. Perhaps the best thing I could be doing is to encourage those bees to make more of themselves, rather than trying to get them to make surplus honey for me to rob...
     
  6. warrior

    warrior Well-Known Member

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    Look to raise some queen daughters from these colonies. If they do have a resistance thing going on it may be genetic and you definitely want that in any future colonies. A split where you allow them to raise their own queen would give you that. Requeening with an ordered queen would be the same as starting over with new bees once the older bees died off. The downside is that for the genes to be passed in the greatest concentration the virgin queens would need to be bred by drones from these survivor colonies leading to problems with inbreeding and the resultant brood viability problems.
    There may be a queen breeder in your area that would just love to take a look at your resistant stock and just might be willing to incoporate your stock into his program.
     
  7. mountainman_bc

    mountainman_bc Well-Known Member

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    I definately think the bees are worth keeping and splitting but I wouldn't expect them to be resistant. I would watch them closesly, TEST for mites, and other dieseases. Treat them if needed. The chance of them being resistant to mites are tiny. The chance of them not getting mites overthis period is probably better. Noone will know until you work them religiously for a long time.
     
  8. mountainman_bc

    mountainman_bc Well-Known Member

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    I definately think the bees are worth keeping and splitting but I wouldn't expect them to be resistant. I would watch them closesly, TEST for mites, and other dieseases. Treat them if needed. The chance of them being resistant to mites are tiny. The chance of them not getting mites overthis period is probably better. Noone will know until you work them religiously for a long time.
     
  9. lewbest

    lewbest Well-Known Member

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    Just on the chance that they might have some mite resistant genetics I'd like to buy a couple of queens from them if you try raising some!

    Lew Best
    bee_keeper@earthlink.net
     
  10. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    We stopped using chemicals (apistan/checkmite) 3 years ago and while we have had heavy overwinter losses at one of our sites it appears more related to weather (warming and then quick temperature drops) than specifically to mite load. Our other site we lost 1 out of 8 hives last winter (which I think is pretty darn good).

    We do manage the hives so I'm confident that what he have is what we started with (We have done splits and in some cases requeened with daughter queens.)

    We simply wanted to avoid the chemicals and felt that with initial reports of resistant mites that chemicals would be of less value going forward.

    We use screened bottom boards (helps a lot) and have experimented with other approaches.

    Mike