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British Beekeepers Association Official Forum 

  • Repeated Beekeeping Myths and Folklore.

  • General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #2592  by Jim Norfolk
 02 Apr 2019, 09:33
Can I add one more possible myth? Drone brood is a Varroa factory.

Yes Varroa are attracted to drone brood in preference to worker brood and yes they do have longer as pupae for an extra daughter mite to survive. However I have reared drones in my colonies for years and there is no surge in Varroa. My observations are that mite drop falls almost to zero during May and June when drones are reared but then increases in August and September when there is no drone brood. I know it sounds counter intuitive but maybe rearing drones actually helps control Varroa. Small numbers of drone cells could be invaded by too many Varroa resulting in the death of both. I have found dead drone pupae and newly emerged drones with DWV on the landing board and mite drops go right down. Before Nigel posts that mite counts don't work, I confirmed the very low mite levels with sugar dusting over the whole brood box.
 #2593  by Chrisbarlow
 02 Apr 2019, 10:29
Jim Norfolk wrote:
02 Apr 2019, 09:33
Can I add one more possible myth? Drone brood is a Varroa factory
My initial response would be yes it is, but thinking about it, may be not. Even without drone brood there are still lots of varroa, I suppose the reason why people focus on drone brood is because we know as beekeepers varroa prefer drone brood and we are encouraged through IPM to remove it because we know varroa are more likely to be in there.

There are quite a few studies that talk about drone brood and varroa but I cant find anything that compares drone brood free colonies and drone brood colonies to see if there is a difference in varroa population which is what you speak of.

In all my colonies I have drone brood because I use foundationaless frames (not exclusively though) and this allows the bee to build much more drone comb. I do IPM but I also leave a lot as I want well mated queens with my prefered drones. I have a low wintering loss but I treat for varroa regularly (twice/thrice yearly)
 #2594  by Chrisbarlow
 02 Apr 2019, 10:37
There is this peice of research from 2000 by Wilkinson and Thompson based at the NBU, Sand Hutton, which suggests that the more drone brood then the more varroa, however this information appears to be based on a model and not a direct comparison between drone brood colonies and drone brood free colonies.


Altering the proportion of drone broodThe importance of drone brood in determining the mite popula-tion growth rate has been shown by Wilkinson and Smith (inprep). The model predicted that to reduce the mite populationgrowth rate by 25% requires a 19% reduction in the proportion ofdrone brood (Table 1). The 19% reduction in drone brood amount equates to a reduction from 4% to 3.2% drone brood for the honeybee colony developed in the model.


https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Graham_Smith7/publication/230745258_Modelling_Biological_Approaches_to_Controlling_Varroa_Populations/links/0fcfd503cf0086b882000000.pdf
 #2597  by NigelP
 02 Apr 2019, 12:44
I've stopped culling drone brood...in all the time I cut it out and left it for the birds I rarely ever found any varroa in it. Not saying they don't prefer it....science says they do....
But factory it isn't.
 #2598  by Patrick
 02 Apr 2019, 17:02
Yes, I found the same Nigel when I bought one of those uncapping comb things. I was expecting loads of mites and only saw relatively few.

The comb now serves only two purposes 1) to add clutter to my bee box and 2) to spike my fingertips when I am rustling about trying to find something else.
 #2615  by NigelP
 04 Apr 2019, 19:12
And another one...adding twigs branches outside a recently moved hive makes bees re-orientate to their new location.

My experience is they re-orientate if you move them 5 yards into a different position, no twigs needed. The problems start if they are foraging on the same old areas and navigate the "old way home". Not really applicable at this time of year as they are not flying vast distances.
 #2617  by Chrisbarlow
 04 Apr 2019, 21:38
NigelP wrote:
04 Apr 2019, 19:12
And another one...adding twigs branches outside a recently moved hive makes bees re-orientate to their new location.
Now , I have to say, I do this NP and it works for me, foraging or not. I will try it without the twigs on non foraging colonies and see if I think it works.
 #2622  by NigelP
 05 Apr 2019, 08:59
You will find it makes no difference. The bees will re-orientate to their new position whether it's 10 yards or 10 miles. The problem is on a short move when they forage on the same patches they previously foraged on.....then they use their "old" route home. Twigs and branches will have no effect on this.

Was reading some interesting research regarding the number of daily foraging trips "older" bees make....Turns out it's between 2-3 per day. Seemed incredibly low, but they showed it several ways including radio trackers.