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Varroa Treatment for Strong Feral Colony

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HighlandWozza 

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I have one strong "feral" colony. They swarmed out of the roof of a large local country house, where there have been bees for at least thirty years. They have varroa and so I am considering treating them this autumn.

But, if they have survived thus far without treatment, why should I treat when this will only favour varroa non-resistance? Wouldn't I be better to leave them and hope for the best?

No doubt this has been debated to death, so links or thoughts appreciated. Thanks.
 

Black Comb 

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Treat them.
If not they'll spread the infection to your other colonies.
 

alex 

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I'd definitely treat them - I don't think it's worth the risk of sacrificing the health of all your existing colonies, just on the off-chance that you might have managed to catch an elusive strain of varroa-tolerant wild bee. Just my humble opinion, many disagree with me on all sorts of things, not just beekeeping!
 

Hivemaker. 

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Feral bee's can cope with varroa,so the top bar gang say......i should leave them,see how long they last.
 

jezd 

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They have varroa.
Sorry but that tells us nothing, every colony I have has varroa its just a case the numbers - I see no difference to any other hive you have.

How much varroa? just treat as normal and if you really curious then leave then and see how that strain copes with the mite on its own.

Long live feral colonies!

JD
 

beebreeder 

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But if you can keep them in a seperate apiary so any drifting does'nt spread the mites they may or may not have
 

kazmcc 

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How do you know it is a colony that's been going for 30 years, and not just a nice comfy space that a new colony has squatted each year? I'm not being cheeky, I really want to know how you can tell. Can you tell?
 

HighlandWozza 

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How do you know it is a colony that's been going for 30 years, and not just a nice comfy space that a new colony has squatted each year? I'm not being cheeky, I really want to know how you can tell. Can you tell?
Hi Kazmcc, I don't know that. I am surmising. However, I do know that there have been bees in that spot all summer every summer for 30 years. So I think its a fair bet that there have been long periods of continuous occupation.

As for the question of how much varroa. The drop rate is quite low from a large prime swarm that has never been treated.
 

HighlandWozza 

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How do you know it is a colony that's been going for 30 years, and not just a nice comfy space that a new colony has squatted each year? I'm not being cheeky, I really want to know how you can tell. Can you tell?
Hi Kazmcc, I don't know that. I am surmising. However, I do know that there have been bees in that spot all summer every summer for 30 years. So I think its a fair bet that there have been long periods of continuous occupation.

As for the question of how much varroa. The drop rate is quite low from a large prime swarm that has never been treated.

My other two colonies also have varroa and I will certainly treat them in the autumn.
 

oliver90owner 

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kazmcc,

How do you know it is a colony that's been going for 30 years

Very simple. You don't.

Probably not every year a change, but a good chance of a failure in that time, but there again varroa was not a problem 30 years ago, this is the highlands of Scotland. But they are varroa infested, so who knows. Possible, but not probable, it is a continuous colony in the one place, and if so they might be a long way from their original nest site.

Regards, RAB
 

kazmcc 

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Thanks for your replies. Are there not labs somewhere trying to create varroa resistant strains of bee? Do you think that would be a good thing? I feel a thread coming on :)
 

Hebeegeebee 

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When a feral colony dies the wax moth move in and eat the wax and all the nasties; then bees can occupy the location again. I would be surprised if thee had been 30 years of continual occupation.

As soon as a swarm produces brood the varroa will pop into the cells - hey presto - low varroa count!
 

oliver90owner 

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Are there not labs somewhere trying to create varroa resistant strains of bee

As long as they (the bees) are not GE!

Regards, RAB
 

HighlandWozza 

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Thanks for your replies. Are there not labs somewhere trying to create varroa resistant strains of bee? Do you think that would be a good thing? I feel a thread coming on :)
Yes, this is sort of where I was going with this. If I don't treat and they survive the winter then I am encouraging varroa resistance. Look at the analogy of rabbits and myxomatosis. Myx wiped out 90% or so of the rabbit population and we all saw the results. Horrible. However, a number survived - myx resistance was selected for naturally and now myx-resistant rabbits are bouncing back and re-populating the countryside.

However, look at cattle and bovine TB. Whenever a cow is shown to have TB it is destroyed. Therefore cows in Britain will never become TB resistant. Stupid policy. (Granted developing resistance would have to be done on an island or somewhere isolated while farming went on as normal, but the same principles apply.)
 

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