Is powdered sugar a chemical? I think so. If not, then is vinegar a chemical? How about formic??
I use no chemicals. If my bees die, then that's the way it is. I'm raising survivors which will live and work well in Central VA.
When I decide the colony will crash without help I treat with MAII. After the mites are under control I requeen.
Screened bottoms with oil trays for beetles and thymol gel for mites.
People who are not using pesticides:
People who are using pesticides:
I don't see a geographical difference.
I use all screened bottom boards, most with oil trays. Also, use drone frames, but more to control which colonies I want drones from. I do not pull the drone frames from my most productive colonies.
Last Saturday I went to a workshop on grafting taught by Dave Tarpy of NC State U for beekeepers in southern piedmont NC. Most, of course, were well experienced and numbered about 60. Apparently, I was the only one who did not treat (5 years). I think many did not believe me. When I read posts on Beesource there seem to be many who don't treat. Why?
I think for this poll to be useful at all, you really must define what 'liberal use', 'medium-level', and 'limited use' etc, is and also what falls under the definition of 'chemicals'.
Is HoneyBeehealthy or lemongrass oil a chemical? Is powdered sugar or mineral oil, formic acid, or crisco patty with thyme oil a chemical treatment?
Looks like nobody would consider themselves as using chemicals liberally.
I have to say, at this point after talking to quite a bunch of beekeepers, I have found more than one who have told me they 'don't put chemicals on their bees'- and later they matter-of-factly tell me they use formic acid, terramycin, and FumigillinB several times a year as a preventative... yet they still say they 'don't use chemicals' on their bees and that they disapprove of those who do. :s
So, for a poll like this I really think you have to spell it out if you want a meaningful response.
I think it's all about being in "the know" or not. It seems to me that it's human nature to become so familiar with "what we do", that there comes a point when we will decide that there is nothing left to learn. Like it is pointless to continue to get new opinions or explore new ideas because we already know eveything that there is to know about "what we do". When we, as humans, naturally get to the place where this happens, we often actually fall behind.
Take, for instance, the fact that people who have departed from the Langstoth hive and have moved to Warre hives have found that there are many advantages for the bees. The bees in Warres consume fewer stores in the winter, stay warmer and drier, don't pass stores on their way up, live in fresh wax which helps prevent numerous diseases and swarm much less frequently. People who have used these hives know this to be true. Warre, who was a commercial honey producer, knew all of these things 100 years ago. Yet most beekeeping suppliers and commercial beekeepers that I speak with have never heard of Warres or they dismiss them as simply a "hobbyist thing that has no real advantages".
Another example is what Michael Bush has been saying for some time. Small or natural cell size combats varroa. Everyone wants proof before they'll try it, rather than trying it to see if it works for them. Those of us who use it know that it works.
The beekeepers who don't believe that you don't treat are stuck in the "knowledge" that you simply must treat with chemicals for varroa or your hives will die off. The fact that they still lose some of their hives is proof of this to them, when the reality is that they may not lose more hives than they do now if they stopped using chemicals or that they might lose even fewer hives than they do now if they would just adopt better beekeeping practices.
Now, someone asked about whether powdered sugar was to be considered a chemical. I say no. I think treating with powdered sugar is OK, but if I had a hive that had a frequent problem with varroa I would simply stop treating it and let it die if that was what was inevitable. I also like and use HBH. I won't make any claims as to what I think it does or does not do, but I think that it is good for the bees, I like it, and I feed it a couple times per year. I don't consider it to be a chemical, either.
Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics
In response to an Omie's post, I do not treat at all. I do not use commercial treatments nor do I use grease patties, essential oils or powdered sugar. A couple of years a go, the girls had nosema AND varroa. I never treated and the girls since have not had problems with either. Is it luck? Maybe. I tend to think that one's immune system and, in the case of varroa, hygeine will never improve if constatly bombarded with chemicals.
I feed the girls 2:1 early spring, give them dry sugar and add a wind break in winter. That's it. Other than that, I think they know better than I do as to what's good for them. They teach me something everytime I visit with them.
I would like to clarify that i'm not saying that anyone here is misleading others about whether they really use chemicals or not, and I'm also not trying to pass judgment on what's 'good' or what's 'bad' to use either....I merely mean that everyone has their own definitions of 'chemicals' and 'treatments'- and that to make a poll like this accurate we need to be able to understand the poll's definitions of the terms given in the choices. I myself was not able to answer the poll question simply because I wasn't sure what was exactly meant by the various choices given. :)
I voted that I don't use chemicals.
To clarify I do use,
I own formic, & apiguard gel, but chose to let a hive die last fall instead of using them.
63% of responding hobbyists are not using chemicals.
My next question would be how much success they have had doing so.
I know it's been many, many years since my father has treated his hives with any chemicals.
I'm guessing much fewer than 63% of commercial beeks are chemical-free.
Another question: what percentage of queen and package/nuc providers are not treating for mites (like R. Weaver)?
If beekeeping is being overrun with low-resistance bees, it seems the main culprit is the lack of mite-resistant bees commercially available.
Chemical use in my hives is strictly limited to:
2 drops per quart of 1:1 sugar syrup of melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil, used to keep syrup from molding. My girls don't seem to like 2:1 syrup, and in the winter it never gets cold enough to kill everything. Doesn't seem to bother anybody, and no moldy syrup. What is there gets used. Good enough for me.
Melaleuca has anti-biotic, fungal, viral properties. Prolly qualifies as an essential oil, but even then, I'm using fairly small amounts.
Only other chemical anywhere near my hives is the fire ant granules around the feet of the stands.
It's Bee Weaver that doesn't treat.
I haven't treated at all. Nothing. I have several carnies and cordovans, and mutt bees. the mutt bees i leave alone. I haven't even been in the hive since i installed them from a cutout about 3 months ago. whoops i did pop the top and look at them once, saw this gorgeous white comb full of honey. I haven't noticed a mite problem on my other bees too. MOST of my hives, i put in foundationless frames and let them build their own comb.
If using only Apple cider vinegar, HBH, and commercially purchased pollen patties, and brood builder is still considered chemical free, count me in on the NO CHEMICAL TREATMENT group. I've been trying to convince other beeks in our club that I'm having better results, and am looked at like I have 3 heads. I was taught to at our club's beginner course to use them and did the first year. The next year I took a natural beekeeping course, and learned how to go without. Also, I have no choice. My kids are uber-organic, and wouldn't touch my honey when I used Terramyacin and Fumagellan in my hives. I also don't heat it, and only strain it to 600 microns. To us, the more raw and natural the honey is, the better.
Uh, I agree with Omie, define, specify, define.
Chemical-free? Everything and everybody in our entire known universe is/are composed of nothing but chemicals and empty space. Sugar is a chemical, pollen is composed of chemicals. Heck, even water is a chemical compound.
What I would appreciate with a survey like this is a specific definition of the various terms used in the survey, so I can make an accurate, informed, response.
Every time I hear or read about someone claiming they don't use "chemicals" on their bees; I cringe and wonder what universe they live in.