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Erichalfbee 

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Beginner here, but could you please tell me why? I was told at the teaching apiary I go to that that’s what we should be doing to help keep the mite counts down, on top of the MAQS or any other treatment the teaching apiary elects each year when we are to take out supers off by October. Thanks in advance
Because research has shown time after time that drone culling has little overall impact on the colony’s mite levels. Bees like drones and if you leave them to their own devices they make up to 20% of their new brood drone at certain times of the year.
Our queens need healthy drones
Drone culling is up there with shook swarming in my opinion
My BKA teaches stuff like that and it’s down to BBKA exam syllabuses.
Not all BBKA stuff is bad but the bad bits really are! They need a kick up the arse!
( My lot won’t try the poly hive I’ve offered free either).
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Beginner here, but could you please tell me why? I was told at the teaching apiary I go to that that’s what we should be doing to help keep the mite counts down, on top of the MAQS or any other treatment the teaching apiary elects each year when we are to take out supers off by October. Thanks in advance
Drone culling does very little to reduce the varroa count, whoever told you that at the 'teaching' apiary hasn't really done any research on the subject and is obviously just rolling out the usual 'received knowledge' from the BBKBBBBM (the British Beekeepers Bumper Book of Bullsh!t B*llix and Myth) it has no place in the thinking man's IPM and should be consigned to the same dustbin as 'shook swarms' ventilation and matchsticks.
Bees produce drones for a very good reason they are needed to maintain a healthy and diverse gene pool to ensure the continuation and health of the species. Last thing they need is some clown going into the hive every five minutes and ripping out all the drone brood.
 

mbc 

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Because research has shown time after time that drone culling has little overall impact on the colony’s mite levels. Bees like drones and if you leave them to their own devices they make up to 20% of their new brood drone at certain times of the year.
Our queens need healthy drones
Drone culling is up there with shook swarming in my opinion
My BKA teaches stuff like that and it’s down to BBKA exam syllabuses.
Not all BBKA stuff is bad but the bad bits really are! They need a kick up the arse!
( My lot won’t try the poly hive I’ve offered free either).
"Bees like drones", yup, and they lose moral and get very irritable if you mess with the boys.
I once used to drone cull, lesson learnt very quickly and not repeated.
 

hemo 

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Beginner here, but could you please tell me why? I was told at the teaching apiary I go to that that’s what we should be doing to help keep the mite counts down, on top of the MAQS or any other treatment the teaching apiary elects each year when we are to take out supers off by October. Thanks in advance
Also apart from the already stated reasons, look at the production of drones.
Energy has to be wasted by the bees to feed the larvae and keep them warm, al this they do then for some fool to undo all their hard work. Thus the cycle begins again, one could say it must demoralise a colony and cause possibly angst/stress for the bees to have to keep repeating the process.

If you have calm/docile bees that don't boil out of the CB or run on the comb or all over your gloves then you will want to harness the gene pull, doing so may even improve any mating's locally to your benefit and maybe others. If the good genes of your drones helps to diversify the local mating's then the better for all maybe.
 

tchu 

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Thank you al
Also apart from the already stated reasons, look at the production of drones.
Energy has to be wasted by the bees to feed the larvae and keep them warm, al this they do then for some fool to undo all their hard work. Thus the cycle begins again, one could say it must demoralise a colony and cause possibly angst/stress for the bees to have to keep repeating the process.

If you have calm/docile bees that don't boil out of the CB or run on the comb or all over your gloves then you will want to harness the gene pull, doing so may even improve any mating's locally to your benefit and maybe others. If the good genes of your drones helps to diversify the local mating's then the better for all maybe.
Thank you all for your input. The reasoning I was given to justify the method was that varroa particular likes drone larvae specially because one of both their life cycles coincided.
So can I now ask what you guys do to keep your varroa count down? I lost my colony due to varroa and because I didn’t do this drone culling thing (though it was a waste of bee energy to rear drones & build wax only for them to be weekly destroyed) and instead relied solely on the MAQS, I kept beating myself up for not having done the drone culling method. Thanks.
 

madasafish 

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Thank you al

Thank you all for your input. The reasoning I was given to justify the method was that varroa particular likes drone larvae specially because one of both their life cycles coincided.
So can I now ask what you guys do to keep your varroa count down? I lost my colony due to varroa and because I didn’t do this drone culling thing (though it was a waste of bee energy to rear drones & build wax only for them to be weekly destroyed) and instead relied solely on the MAQS, I kept beating myself up for not having done the drone culling method. Thanks.
I keep my coun t low by not counting.
It is a waste of time. I just treat twice a year - August and Christmas.

Counting varroa is for those with nothing better to do: it occupies time and gives a unreliable result.
I may be senile but I am not that stupid :cool:
 

Erichalfbee 

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I vape four times after harvest in late August. I do take the opportunity to vape broodless splits and swarms just the once
 
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B+. 

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I keep my coun t low by not counting.
It is a waste of time. I just treat twice a year - August and Christmas.

Counting varroa is for those with nothing better to do: it occupies time and gives a unreliable result.
I may be senile but I am not that stupid :cool:
I suppose that makes me senile and/or stupid and/or have nothing better to do
 

tchu 

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Interesting answers. I’ve recently watched Randy Oliver’s Varroa Management video and he seems to keep a very close eye on varroa count - he uses the alcohol wash method. If I remember it correctly I think he tends to treat his colonies about 3 times a year. He then culls queens whose colonies don’t manage varroa well. But on the other hand he’s is a commercial beekeeper as well as a scientist in America so his conditions and interests are potentially very different from that of the average UK beekeepers’.
 
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pargyle 

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Thank you al

Thank you all for your input. The reasoning I was given to justify the method was that varroa particular likes drone larvae specially because one of both their life cycles coincided.
So can I now ask what you guys do to keep your varroa count down? I lost my colony due to varroa and because I didn’t do this drone culling thing (though it was a waste of bee energy to rear drones & build wax only for them to be weekly destroyed) and instead relied solely on the MAQS, I kept beating myself up for not having done the drone culling method. Thanks.
There is a grain of truth in what you have been told insomuch as varroa mites do prefer to enter drone cells for the purpose of breeding ... but ... the theory of tearing out drone cells to reduce the mite load does not hold water. Only a relatively small portion of the varroa population will actually be in capped drone cells at any point in time ... and not all drone cells will contain varroa so you would have to remove them all in order to be sure. As has been previously said the bees hate it when you destroy drone cells and they will inevitably do their best to replace the lost cells and brood ... which you would then have to destroy again... and again.

You would be better advised to first start thinking about how you identify, reasonably accurately, what the varroa levels are in the colony. By the time you can see visual manifestation of a heay infestation (DWV, Varroosis and mites actually seen on the bees - it's too late.

I don't treat my bees for varroa but I do frequent sugar rolls to ensure that I know how many mites are likely to be in my colonies. You should start by determining the infestation levels and if they are high there are a raneg of treatments you can employ to reduce the load. MAQS is a treatment that has mixed reliability ... used incorrectly it can adversely affect the queen and the instructions are written for Langstroth hives - when standard nationals are much smaller. There are better treatments available - have a look at Oxalic Acid by sublimation which, if done correctly, has a very high knock down rate. If I had to treat my bees then that is what I would be using (and have used on other people's colonies).

There are lots of threads on here that will give you the knowledge you need to start and make some informed decisions but knowing the scale of the problem is the starting point. There's no point in treating for varroa if they don't need it ....

 
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hemo 

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As per Pargyle (philip) use the sugar roll method instead of alc wash one method doesn't kill the bees whilst the other does. You can buy a useful tool from Abelo UK for £15 to carry out sugar rolls and then release the bees alive back in to the colony, this method will give an idea of varroa infestation. One doesn't need to go mad once a month form April to July is enough to see if a problem may be arising.
 

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relied solely on the MAQS
Depends when you applied MAQS and what the colony did subsequently. If you treated in August and brooding continued until January - not unusual - then mite levels would rise again; if you didn't treat once more in mid-winter then the colony may have begun the New Year with a high varroa load.
 

hemo 

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A lot of use don't treat until late August or early September with Oxalic vapes/fumigation before the winter brood is produced in earnest by leaving the treatment a bit later the new winter bees being produced will have a better chance of survival, to back this up a later vape or even two is carried out around the third week in December when likely most colonies are broodless. This programme of treating gives the bees a fighting chance of having less parasitic varroa during the spring build up.
 

IndiBee 

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May be the right thread, maybe not:
I have noticed an alarming lack of queens managing to mate. Records are showing just over 60% are getting mated now, closer to 80% just a few years ago (this is Wales).
I am seriously thinking of buying in some AMM queens to see if that makes any difference.
I have never bought bees in my life, but some new genetics in the area may make a difference (not that I want to buy from too far off if possible).
Any suggestions for mid-wales AMM queens?
 

tchu 

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Depends when you applied MAQS and what the colony did subsequently. If you treated in August and brooding continued until January - not unusual - then mite levels would rise again; if you didn't treat once more in mid-winter then the colony may have begun the New Year with a high varroa load.
Treated in August, they managed to overwinter but were very weak and died after second spring inspection. Same happened to someone else’s colony at the same teaching apiary and they all colonies there were treated the same way at the same time
 

tchu 

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A lot of use don't treat until late August or early September with Oxalic vapes/fumigation before the winter brood is produced in earnest by leaving the treatment a bit later the new winter bees being produced will have a better chance of survival, to back this up a later vape or even two is carried out around the third week in December when likely most colonies are broodless. This programme of treating gives the bees a fighting chance of having less parasitic varroa during the spring build up.
Curiously, Randy Oliver says he uses more than one type of treatment but oxalic acid is his favourite
 

tchu 

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There is a grain of truth in what you have been told insomuch as varroa mites do prefer to enter drone cells for the purpose of breeding ... but ... the theory of tearing out drone cells to reduce the mite load does not hold water. Only a relatively small portion of the varroa population will actually be in capped drone cells at any point in time ... and not all drone cells will contain varroa so you would have to remove them all in order to be sure. As has been previously said the bees hate it when you destroy drone cells and they will inevitably do their best to replace the lost cells and brood ... which you would then have to destroy again... and again.

You would be better advised to first start thinking about how you identify, reasonably accurately, what the varroa levels are in the colony. By the time you can see visual manifestation of a heay infestation (DWV, Varroosis and mites actually seen on the bees - it's too late.

I don't treat my bees for varroa but I do frequent sugar rolls to ensure that I know how many mites are likely to be in my colonies. You should start by determining the infestation levels and if they are high there are a raneg of treatments you can employ to reduce the load. MAQS is a treatment that has mixed reliability ... used incorrectly it can adversely affect the queen and the instructions are written for Langstroth hives - when standard nationals are much smaller. There are better treatments available - have a look at Oxalic Acid by sublimation which, if done correctly, has a very high knock down rate. If I had to treat my bees then that is what I would be using (and have used on other people's colonies).

There are lots of threads on here that will give you the knowledge you need to start and make some informed decisions but knowing the scale of the problem is the starting point. There's no point in treating for varroa if they don't need it ....

Thanks; I now need to decide whether I try the sugar shake or alcohol wash method first.

What about sprinkling icing sugar on brood weekly? Read about the method on a BBKA book last year when I first started beekeeping but was told not to do it as is can dry the brood and it isn’t efficient anyway; any thoughts?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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what about sprinkling icing sugar on brood weekly? Read about the method on a BBKA book last year
Totally pointless and harmful to brood - to have any longlasting effect you would have to do it hourly rather than weekly. The fact that you read it where you did should make you think twice.
 

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