so in a case like this, you are not recommending stopping treatments cold turkey, but rather agressively splitting the hive and introducing new genetics?
i do respect anyone's desire not to use treatments, but in a case like this, would it not make sense to knock down the mite load with a soft treatment prior to making the splits? (with the long term goal of avoiding the 'treadmill').
(assuming vaorra is the problem)
...this was just posted on "another forum"....talk about a treadmill.
At the Bee conference in Tampa, FL this past week, Dr Diana Sammataro gave 3 different talks on mites. One of her studies is on: what effect does what we feed our bees have on the mites in the hive. She isolated the study into 3 groups. The first group was allowed to feed in the wild, the second were fed pollen that was collected and sold to beeks and the third were fed pollen substitutes. To control the bee’s source of food, she had the second 2 groups of hives in tents. She found it is hard to keeps them alive for any great length of time in tents. All three groups had the queens in laying cages (square cage over the comb) to control the day the eggs were laid and only in the control area. On the 8th day (they day before they are capped) they were placed in hives that were heavy in mites. Each mite hive had 1 frame from each group. After they were capped the frames were removed and just before the bees hatched they were opened and the mites were counted. She just recently got the results from her first try. The natural fed bees had an average of about 43 mites on the worker brood, the pollen had an average of around 53 mites on worker brood (no drones allowed in the test cases) but the pollen substitute averaged around 273 mites on the worker brood.
As you can imagine, this was a total surprise. She showed pictures of the results. The bees from the substitute were covered with mites. She did note that these same bees were on average heaver that the other bees.
Diana is still working on this to determine what is happening with this situation.
I think the analogy of drinking is pretty apt here.
If you have a drinking problem, and you decide that you want to stop drinking, there are lots of things to consider....how are you going to stop? What are you going to do when you feel the urge to drink? How are you going to handle emotionally tough situations without taking a drink?
Well, in the end, if one wants to quit drinking, at some point they have to take their last drink...and not take another one. This doesn't mean that you won't be in a situation where you want a drink...where you think (in the moment) that a drink might help. ...it is these tough situations where the battle is ultimately won or lost, as there is always going to be something tough to deal with that seems to demand a drink.
The same is true of beekeeping. There will always be some challenge that seems to demand treatment. If you want to treat in such a situation, that is your own business (as long as you are honest about it)...but I think it is impossible to be "treatment-free" this way....parasites and disease are always evolving and changing....there will always be a challenge which would seem to be addressed by a treatment....but this is the same slippery slope of "this has been a tough day, I think I need one drink to get through it".
As long as treatments are the "back up plan", they will always be used...if not this year, then next year.
The idea that there are things called "soft treatments" and that they are somehow warm and fuzzzy is flawed in the extreme. The soft treatments (essential oils, organic acids) are more destructive to the microflora of the bees...and most definitely directly to the bees directly as well....they are substances that are less harmful to humans, but they are not "soft", and they are not "natural". Anyone that is concerned about fungicides affecting their bees (and that should be all beekeepers), should consider that thymol is a really strong antifungal agent.
The only thing "soft" about the soft treatments is the soft sell used to make beekeepers believe they are being "natural" or "organic" or "kind to the bees".
@deknow - agree with you regarding reality of "soft" treatments. Here in Maine our state apiarist tells us that the mites have developed resistance to the "hard" treatments and so the so called "soft" treatments are what remain as effective. People need to remember that they are still treatments, and while many of them are synthetic recreations of naturally occurring substances, there is nothing natural about using them in a bee hive. That said, I have some colonies that get treated, and some that don't. The hard part for me is keeping brood frames & boxes sorted out so that the TF bees don't inadvertently get treated.
Some areas are easier to do TF beekeeping than others. Thus far my TF bees have not made much honey and many have died. I'll be very interested to see what I'm left with following winter.
I think we are talking about the danger of the beekeeper falling off the wagon because of his psychological treatment dependancy. That would seem to say that you must not ever treat or it will destroy your resolve and you will be forever damned. Carnal knowledge can never be shed. That could be true but the bees do not have such emotional connection. That is a toothless bogeyman, lol!
Now if there is a case for developing chemical dependency or functional alteration upon the part of the bee I can buy into that; bio-accumulation in brood comb with the likes of coumophos could have subtle and ongoing effects on the bees. I think there is a fair bit of evidence to support that. Most certainly it is subject to developing resistance as well. That is a bad treatment and there are others like it, but that does not make treatment in itself all bad (unless from the angle of my first paragraph).
I think there are treatments that physically home in on anatomical vulnerabilities of mites for instance that have little effect on bees and do little more than temporarily altering the ph of the comb surfaces. A lesser evil perhaps than the mite would otherwise inflict on the hive. I think that would be a good treatment and I cannot see it creating any crippling dependency like being stuck on a treadmill. I think we should be very, very cautious about any treatment but I think it is irrational to avoid any and all as a mantra.
I will use a personal experience to create an analogy for treatment. I was instructing a course on heavy equipment operation for a bunch of rather raggedy ath and bob tailed men and came down with persistant jock itch from the foam seats. Medicated powder every nite curatively and every morning profilactically gave me great relief. Now I could have just continued to scratch if I were so inclined but this seemed a good treatment.
Amongst some of my Commercial Beekeeping friends we oft times talk about how it seems like we spend a lot more time nowadays throwing medications/treatments on our hives to keep as many as possible alive and populous, which was much much less so 30 years ago. Presently we are almost Honeybee Veternarians(sp?).
What one does is determined by what one's goals are.
Thanks Ramona. For the computer illiterates like me a Link would make life easier. Also, isn't it a Rule when quoting an outside source? But thanks, I'll write down the first sentence and websearch it.
I just recognized the name, Dr. Sammataro. I saw one of her presentations at The Big Bee Buzz in Tusla OK this spring.
Inspected again 10/12. 1 Hive and 1 Nuc expected to over winter. Nuc is headed by a purchased Russian Queen. Nucs made up with Queen Cells (swarm) have not thrived.
This yard has not produced any surplus honey since it was established and has required feeding each fall (sugar water)
No treatments have been made for Nosema and/or Varroa.
The yard is on an organic farm, within flying distance of a National Park. Plenty of forage.
Another yard with TF Russians on another farm established in 2011 (6 colonies) made 1 shallow of summer honey, and the same inspector guesses 1 hive will be alive next Spring there. That one is from a split made up this year using a swarm cell queen open mated with whatever is nearby. Same issues (Varroa).
Both farms are about 1.5 hours away from where I live. They were much closer when first established, but then I moved. Hives likely to survive the winter have been wrapped.
At the Bee conference in Tampa, FL this past week, Dr Diana Sammataro gave 3 different talks on mites.
Tampa, FL – vacations, air travel to, real estate
Sammataro – sumo wrestling tickets, vacations to Sumatra
mites – Raid pest control products, mitre saws
And who knows what else. ;)