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I took the dog for a town walk today as the Waitakeres are still closed. We went on a track that I haven't been on for several years and was surprised to see a bee hive in the structure of a bridge. It was either three discreet hives or one super hive . The big surprise was that I saw these hives more than four years ago. Of course the hives may have died off and been replaced by new swarms but I will be putting some bait hives down there in case it's the grail of varroa resistant bees. Anybody else seen long surviving wild hives?

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49 minutes ago, Apihappy said:

Anybody else seen long surviving wild hives?

Aint no such thing. They're repopulated.

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Oh. How can you be sure?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Apihappy said:

Oh. How can you be sure?

There aren't any Varroa - proof bees in NZ. And there are no varroa-free areas in NZ.

Edited by yesbut

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The development of queens producing stock with higher VSH characteristics is still a work in progress, mainly based Otago University, but will only improve with time as the longer it is since varroa arrived, the further the VSH characterisics have developed. The trick is to not narrow the gene pool too much in the process. In Europe, some are mating a queen artificially with one drone only to get a 90%+ VSH rating, which I think is plain stupidity because only breeding for one thing means a whole lot of other positive things are lost, and very quickly.

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As long as most NZ beeks protect their bees from varroa the spread of VSH characteristics into the greater population is doomed.  Developing a line of resistant bees is one thing, getting rid of the mass of susceptible bees quite another. 

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The Arista article suggests that honey bees with high varroa hygiene do show a decrease in honey yields but would still be good pollinators. A wild hive that has survived for several years must be getting enough stores to at least make the hive viable. 

6 minutes ago, yesbut said:

As long as most NZ beeks protect their bees from varroa the spread of VSH characteristics into the greater population is doomed.  Developing a line of resistant bees is one thing, getting rid of the mass of susceptible bees quite another. 

 

Same with the Kauri in the Waitaks' rather than spending hundreds of millions growing a resistant tree just let nature take its course and hopefully there will be a cohort of resistant trees to regenerate the forest.

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On 27 July 2019 at 1:10 PM, Apihappy said:

I took the dog for a town walk today as the Waitakeres are still closed. We went on a track that I haven't been on for several years and was surprised to see a bee hive in the structure of a bridge. It was either three discreet hives or one super hive . The big surprise was that I saw these hives more than four years ago. Of course the hives may have died off and been replaced by new swarms but I will be putting some bait hives down there in case it's the grail of varroa resistant bees. Anybody else seen long surviving wild hives?

Unless you can mark the queen and check it regularly, that hive could be nothing more than swarm after swarm that is using the space. 

if you want to spend energy on it, watch it for a season, do a mite check on it now and through the season to see what you got, rather than moves other hives in there, as you got know idea of whats there. hundreds of hives all in flying or swarming distance to the waitaks.

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On 27/07/2019 at 3:45 PM, yesbut said:

There aren't any Varroa - proof bees in NZ. And there are no varroa-free areas in NZ.

Edited yesterday at 03:46 PM by yesbut

I feel that I need to inform you that there are still some pockets of southern New Zealand where varroa hasn't found it's way in. These areas used to be prime sheep country until some fool discovered more money to be made in milk production. Hundreds of square kilometres turned into cow country, and now are void of bees. This has formed a natural barrier between clover producing areas - (a bit like Cook Strait), and a large beekeeping operation way down somewhere near Tuatapere. I believe that to this day he hasn't needed any varroa treatments as he keeps all his hives - some 3000 - in the deep south and into Fiordland National Park. Also southern Westland has no varroa, but not many bees also.

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4 hours ago, Dennis Crowley said:

Unless you can mark the queen and check it regularly, that hive could be nothing more than swarm after swarm that is using the space. 

if you want to spend energy on it, watch it for a season, do a mite check on it now and through the season to see what you got, rather than moves other hives in there, as you got know idea of whats there. hundreds of hives all in flying or swarming distance to the waitaks.

 

The hive / hives are 10m up in the superstructure of a concrete road bridge. You can see three, half metre sections of comb dropping down from the join. So no monitoring is possible. Yes it is probable that it is just swarms inhabiting a pre loved space but I'm interested in testing them to see if they are super hygienic bees. The only way I can think to do this is with a swarm trap but like you say there are lots of bees in these hills, so I might pick up the wrong swarm! Any thoughts?

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On 27/07/2019 at 1:10 PM, Apihappy said:

Anybody else seen long surviving wild hives?

There are bees under a bridge in rural Hawkes Bay in a similar situation. We check on them every time we're in the area and can see where colonies have died out and new ones formed

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There have historically been pockets of AFB in the Waitaks, so I would be thinking more about that risk, rather than the mythical colony which is totally varroa resistant. To me, not worth the risk or time.

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11 hours ago, RobH said:

There are bees under a bridge in rural Hawkes Bay in a similar situation. We check on them every time we're in the area and can see where colonies have died out and new ones formed

 

Hi Rob. What do you look for to assess if a hive is newly formed? That could save some time.

Photo or it didn't happen.

IMG_4367.JPG

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Each year the colony appears in a slightly different place and the old comb eventually Falls off.

 

 

20190325_141435.jpg

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31 minutes ago, RobH said:

Each year the colony appears in a slightly different place and the old comb eventually Falls off.

 

 

20190325_141435.jpg

Amazing 

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Yep, there’s a bridge we know like this. Every year it attracts new swarms.

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yes i know of one of those bridge's a well

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8 hours ago, Apihappy said:

 

Please bear in mind that Britain has had varroa much longer than we have in NZ, so has had many more generations to evolve VSH characteristics. Our bees will get there, just not anytime soon, without a lot of human intervention, which, if not properly managed will narrow the range of the gene pool, which right now we have a huge advantage over most countries.

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