How Honey Bee Colonies Survive in the Wild: Testing the Importance of Small Nests and Frequent Swarming

Please place treatment free research here. There's a lot of research spread around the Internet that is related to treatment free beekeeping. This forum is an effort to try and consolidate some of this, especially new research as it becomes available.
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ExpatBeekeeper
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How Honey Bee Colonies Survive in the Wild: Testing the Importance of Small Nests and Frequent Swarming

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:02 pm

Abstract
The ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor, and the viruses that it transmits, kill the colonies of European honey bees (Apis mellifera) kept by beekeepers unless the bees are treated with miticides. Nevertheless, there exist populations of wild colonies of European honey bees that are persisting without being treated with miticides. We hypothesized that the persistence of these wild colonies is due in part to their habits of nesting in small cavities and swarming frequently. We tested this hypothesis by establishing two groups of colonies living either in small hives (42 L) without swarm-control treatments or in large hives (up to 168 L) with swarm-control treatments. We followed the colonies for two years and compared the two groups with respect to swarming frequency, Varroa infesttion rate, disease incidence, and colony survival. Colonies in small hives swarmed more often, had lower Varroa infestation rates, had less disease, and had higher survival compared to colonies in large hives. These results indicate that the smaller nest cavities and more frequent swarming of wild colonies contribute to their persistence without mite treatments.

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Michael Bush
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Re: How Honey Bee Colonies Survive in the Wild: Testing the Importance of Small Nests and Frequent Swarming

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:02 pm

Again the scientists feel the need to explain how feral bees keep surviving on natural comb with no treatments...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

lharder
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Re: How Honey Bee Colonies Survive in the Wild: Testing the Importance of Small Nests and Frequent Swarming

Postby lharder » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:05 pm

I hope that scientists would find the topic interesting.

A piece of work like this is just an interesting piece of the puzzle. We have lots of examples of hives living and thriving in managed big hives. Does this explain how that happens? No. It does help explain the success for those who regularly employ brood breaks. And it may help explain why feral stocks seem to have been much quicker to obtain resistance.

Another piece of the information is that there was a genetic bottleneck in the Arnot forest bees due to varroa. Small cavity size was not enough to save most bees. There was genetic reordering (probably not just bees) and there continues to be genetic reordering because of intercolony competition. Survival is not enough, To be reproductively successful, a colony has to manage varroa and disease better than its neighbors. The big cavity and the ability to get big and dominate the local beescape is the big prize.


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