Strong Varroa resistant bee colonies

Some suggest that one important trait for varroa resistance is smaller brood nest and less brood rearing. That may be so for some stock resulting in lower growth rate of varroa mites. It’s also resulting in a smaller honey crop for the beekeeper.

The colony to the right has a queen some years old and it got a varroa treatment the season before it got its new queen, not later. The colony to the left got a very small treatment last year in the spring. Then its queen was killed and the colony got a ripe queen cell. After that no varroa treatment. Both colonies showed one or two Deformed Wing Virus-bees every week on the hard board in front of the entrance for several weeks. Both colonies are high producing. They didn’t swarm and are good tempered. They are wintered on four square shallow (12 x (448x137mm combs) boxes as the bees filled them. The uppermost of them contain about 20 kg honey. They got an additional 10 kg of sugar feeding so they are are rich enough to make a lot of brood in the beginning next season. A contributing factor for the colonies to not needing any treatments is that they are the only two colonies in this apiary.

One of my goals in breeding varroa resistant stock is to keep a big brood nest and high brood production, for quick spring development and a big bee population when the main nectar flows is at hand. That means a maintained good honey crop for the beekeeper. But also a long brood break when nectar and pollen availability is low. That is positive for the fitness of the bees.
Vi can see now in our local bee club when our bees here are very varroa resistant that our bees continue to give us a good crop and have the good traits we are used too. A big brood nest is present during brood season. It doesn’t matter if the big brood nest gives varroa mites good opportunities to reproduce. Our bees are good at chasing, catching and biting mites, as well as discovering and disturbing mites in brood. Even reinvasion of mites in a moderate degree doesn’t hurt the bee colonies enough to set them back through too much virus growth. What we have shown in our local bee club is that it is well possible to develop varroaresistant bees with ”normal” breeding traits, for the benefit of both bees and beekeeper.

This is the colony I was most worried about concerning if it would be able to make it through the coming winter without treatment. It was placed between two colonies that had big problems, of somewhat different kinds. One of them disappeared completely due to that it ended up queenless. It swarmed like crazy and in between showed many DWV-bees. It was kind of a test queen of another possibly interesting stock. The one on the other side of the colony on this picture had problems developing well and got its queen replaced. It also showed too many DWV-bees, but is wintered as a small but healthy colony. The colony on the picture did give a good crop. But it had too much of DWV-bees during too many weeks to make me happy. I was very near to treat it. But late in the season the DWV-bees stopped and no crawling bees on the hard board in front of the entrance. And the colony was full of bees on three square shallow boxes. This picture is taken 5 October, which is late in autumn in Sweden. Most old bees are gone and there is mostly the bees left which will form the winter cluster.

Check this website. Follow the advices and you will succeed!

Can resistant colonies give a good crop?
Tagged on: