101RESEND (Varroa control in top bar hives)
- Sep 9, 2003I am resending this as the echo did not show my text - only the original
messages from Jorge and Sasha. If this is redundant, please ignore it.
Greetings Jorge, Sasha, Ping, Steve and others:
Notes from California - Central inland coastal valley climate (Walnut Creek,
50 km east of San Francisco). These are just some random notes about my
experience but may offer hope for others who want to keep bees without
chemicals and who are concerned about varroa. This month is the completion
of my third year of beekeeping.
About 10 years ago varroa arrived in our area. Swarm calls to our bee club
dropped from three hundred a month during the spring to ten to twenty. Over
the past three years swarm calls have greatly increased - now over a hundred
per month. We think that this recovery of the feral population is due to
natural selective breeding for varroa resistance.
My bees are obtained from these wild swarms. As Africanized honey bees are
approaching, this may not be possible in the next few years.
To some extent it may be that the wild swarms are breeding with improved
commercial bees, but there is not the kind of heavy comercial beekeeping as
seen in agricultural areas to the east (California's great Central Valley) -
our area is a mix of suburban residential and wildland open space reserves.
I have been able to keep several colonies (I presently have four) without
medications of any kind (including patties or oils). Nosema is endemic but
my bees seem productive without controlling it. My first colony was a ferral
Yugo/Italian mix. This was kept in a closed bottom hive (similar to
Satterfield's) and suffered from varroa after about three month's residence.
I observed an average of one varroa per drone brood - some none, some three
or four - said to be a heavy infestation. Drone excision controled this
sucessfully, combined with the development of the vent bottom 30 degree
CalKenyan. These bees were not agressive when worked but would lurk in the
vegetable plot and sting my wife in the early morning! Because of this I
requeened the next year with a Russian queen, which ultimately proved
unsucessful in our climate, as the hive gradually declined and she shut down
laying in our late autumn and winter - the time of our second best honey
flow. She finally absconded after the last inspection after reducing the
colony to only two bar's worth. (I found out that this shut down is a
"thrifty" characteristic of Russians as an adaptation to long and severe
subarctic winters - completely unecessary in our mild climate.)
I have not had to excise drone to control varroa this year - I attribute
this to the improved wild stock and improved hives. There also seems to be
far fewer drones produced than was the case in my first colony, even though
one of my queens was captured from a swarm in my own yard from a colony that
had been obtained from a patio speaker - this is at least her second
swarming, yet she is very productive and her worker bees are quite gentle.
The hive she left behind is also doing well, and unlike her Italian looking
bees, these are all dark Yugoslavian types - probably because my neighbor
(abut 100 meters away) keeps ten Langsroths of commercialy bred Yugos. I
obtained 7 kilos of honey from three bars from this hive in August - this
after a very poor spring due to cool wet weather.
With these latest colonies and hives I do not see the crawling or deformed
bees that were present with the first colony. (Crawling bees are suspected
to be a symptom of tracheal mites - I would sometimes count two or three
*** New bar designs ***
The latest bar designs have proven sucessful in limited test use. I will be
using complete sets of each next spring for swarm introduction to see how
they work in full use.
The "simple bar", as suggested from reading the web, is for fabrication
without power tools. It uses waxed string on simple wood slats. See
The "webless bar", my own invention, is very easy to make with simple power
tools - it requires neither fabrication nor any difficult or dangerous power
tool cuts. For a picture, this is similar to the bar on the left in the
the cuts are angled at 20 degrees to form a keystone profile (wide end down
when in the hive) to make it even easier for the bees to hang.
*** New hive design ***
My latest hive design (a 30 degree vented Kenyan, similar to CK5) uses wood
board construction in an attempt to use materials easily obtained
commercialy in the U.S.A. The material cost for a complete hive body with
legs and bars should be less than $35.00, plus whatever is spent on a roof.
I will be publishing this in a few months.
Best wishes for success to all.
on 1/10/04 2:51 PM, Sasha at mrkflux@... wrote:
> Dear Jorge,on 1/9/04 11:52 PM, Sasha at mrkflux@... wrote:
> It is a pleasure to comunicate with such knowledgeable and polite person like
> I am sorry ,i didnt want to insult your inteligence by pointing your possible
> mistake,it happens to people all the time.It first seemed to me that you have
> been in Serbia,so you know where my part of country is - then this was too
> imposible to me and I get the imppresion that you have made a small mistake.
> Also please exuse me for my bad english.
> Your story about your varroa experiences is highly interesting to me.It is
> very depressing to me that I cant keep bees without chemicals or at least
> that is what every body is telling me here.But if bees in Grenada can survive
> varroa then also local bees here can survive.Here people tend to just throw
> chemicals for any reason on the bees,it is no surprise that bees have endured
> in nature so long time but under human influence in past hundred years are
> becoming endangered specie.
> How much loses from varroa did you have and what esential oils did you use,or
> can you give me some advice in this direction ?How to help the bees to
> survive?Maybe the best is to leave them to decide how to fight varroa?
> I am also deeple interested in your experience of beekeping both regular and
> your experience in value added bee products.If you consider this off topic on
> this group maybe we could contact off the list.
> Personal regards,
> Message: 4
> Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2003 20:40:48 -0400
> From: "Jorge Murillo Yepes" <murillos@...>
> Subject: Re: Re: anybody here?
> Dear Sasha,
> Many thanks for such a nice and prompt response!
> In a way the Caribbean is, as you call it, a "paradise" for bees, as it is
> considered everywhere else in the tropical world by people who, like you,
> live in temperate climates with four distinct seasons. But we have our share
> of problems regarding weather, as well, in the rainy season. But do not
> forget that Mother Nature in her wisdom created the most important
> melliferous bees in your neck of the woods, and not in the tropics!!! She
> must have had a good reason for that.
> What you describe in terms of your TBH seems to me rather similar to the
> Kenyan type, which works very well indeed although, as we humans finally seem
> to be getting to understand, factors such as shape, location, colour,
> materials, etc., are of no importance whatsoever to the bees themselves.
> The Varroa mite was detected in Grenada for the first time in 1994 and in the
> beginning it wrought havoc among both kept as well as wild bee colonies,
> especially insofar as the viruses vectored by the arthropod are concerned.
> After a few years, however, the surviving population seemed to have adjusted
> itself to it and the initial disastrous effects of the attack did not occur
> anymore, especially in hives living in the low, drier areas. We did some
> control utilizing organic essential oils with
> excellent results, but after fifth or sixth year no one bothers too much about
> Varroa anymore, eventhough it is present throughout the Island. No
> Africanized bees have entered Grenada up to now, but they do exist in some
> Islands of the region.
> For many years I was involved in commercial production of primary hive
> products, as well as in teaching beekeeping in Grenada and other Caribbean
> territories, but since about 15 years ago I decided to explore the
> possibilities offered by the addition of value to honey, wax, propolis and
> royal jelly and ended up trying to make a living producing several lines of
> beauty products (soaps, creams, lotions, shampoos, lip balms, massage
> creams, etc), ornamentals (candles) and medicinal products (for humans and
> animals). At the same time I started getting deeply involved in apitherapy
> and for the practice of which I have five hives. By providing technical
> assistance to several local beekeepers I get the primary products required
> for my cottage industry, without having to break my back too much.
> I am in the process of finalizing an Apitherapy Internet Course conducted by
> Dr. Stefan Stangaciu from Rumania, and have the honor to have as fellow
> student a Lady from Serbia, to whom I mentioned your arrival as a new member
> in the TBH chat group.
> And, Sasha, I did not think that you lived in Siberia at all. By the same
> token I hope that you do not think that I live in Spain!!!!
> Best personal regards,
> Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2003 14:25:43 -0400
> From: "Jorge Murillo Yepes" <murillos@...>
> Subject: Re: anybody here?
> Hi, Sasha, Nice to hear from you!!!!! Would you tell us more about your TBH?
> And, where in Serbia do you live?
> I live in Grenada , in the Caribbean and utilize old fridges, air conditioning
> casings and old steel drums cut in half lengthwise to make my TBHs.
> Let's talk!!!!!
> Best regards,
> Hi there on the sunny Caribbean seas,there is a heaven for bees i presume.
> Shortly my tbh are made from wood like ordinary langstrot hives but with
> appropriate dimensions for a tbh(according to the author of the "mother" of
> all tbh web sites James D. Satterfield site).I cant remember the exactly
> dimensions of my tbh since I have worked on them last winter and I am a
> little bad in remembering numbers,but the dimmensions are about 80cm x 40cm x
> I have jumped in the world of tbh because I like the idea,I have a bit of
> simplistic taste and was very excited with the idea.I am a very young
> beekeeper with very little practical experience with bees,and I also tend to
> think in line of organic beekeeping,if that is posible these days.That is a
> big problem here because of the varroa mite.Beekeepers here are slowly
> changing into anti insect chemical warfare experts.That is not compatible
> with my views.I guess you work with africanised honey bee?
> I like your approach with using old items for hives / hives are only cavities
> for bees/ bees can also survive without any hive especially in your region.
> How many hives do you have ,are you a pro or a hobbyst?
> I live in a small town Sombor,that is close to hungarian and croatian border
> about 20 km in each direction.I guess you didnt think i live in Siberia in
> Russia.It is Serbia like Kosovo,Bosnia etc.
> All I know about Grenada is that you have experienced something similar in
> terms of war.
> What do you think about tbh,are you satisfied with them?
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