I have 2 colonies right now that are what I call Hyper Hygenic. They pull maybe 70% of the brood. I considered requeening but am hesitant to destroy their drone pool.
That being said, I will say that my nastiest bees handle the beetles best.
Also, I am small cell totally treatment free [except for screened bottoms] and no winter losses ever [3 winters now], except if you consider one that still has good population but no queen a loss. I did drop a frame of larva and eggs a couple of weeks back and there are now 2 queen cells with the bottoms cut out but no eggs yet.
Good friend that is large cell treatment free [except for essential oils] has 20-25% winter losses. Our genetics are from the same sources. But you might also check out my post #21 here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...f-honey/page2&
with regard to my migratory efforts.
I've been treatment free for over 10 years now. I know the way I do it doesn't count, but it sure keeps the package producers in business.:digging:
and sugar producers! :lookout:
I’ve recently read a number of posts from experienced, commercial beekeepers lamenting the fact that flowering plants no longer seem to produce the same amounts of honey. Yards that were once high yielding that no longer seem productive. How much of these losses could actually be attributed to varroa parasitization?
Guilty as charged. I have tested your theory, and do not believe it is true for me. Our bees still make honey, but not when and where they did in the past. Plants that never provided a flow in the past, have done so recently. Sweet clovers that never failed, have failed. If it was across the board, I would have to agree.
As for mites, the last inspector could not find any , but he did not look REAL hard. We strike drone brood, and see very little DWV or other tell tale signs.
The key to treatment free beekeeping will be a higher value to treatment free honey.
Treatment Free honey yield VS Treatment honey yield, I would imagine that experiment has been done. Out in the field and on an appropriate scale I think it would be hard to carry out.
I have a warehouse full of honey that tests as clean as any "treatment free" honey. I have yet to find a buyer interested in those quantities that is willing to offer me a penny a pound more. So again, where is the incentive? What is the point?
i was wondering jim, when you finish pollination and get into the requeening phase, i'm guessing you double or more your number of colonies.
do you just keep increasing, combine them later for pollination, sell bees...?
Using your hypothetical yes I agree. That gets me back, though, to my basic point which is that if you can have good bees and honey that tests free of residues then what do I gain with the "mythical" title of being treatment free.
Let me be clear. I send lots of samples out to lots of buyers with an accompanying letter telling them what we do and asking that they feel free to test the samples for proof. They appreciate that, they tell me they love my honey and they bid pretty much exactly what they bid to everyone else.
Jim, I agree that for the commercial beekeeper, treatment free honey has no economic value over honey that comes from treated hives. The commercial beek is going to treat responsibly to avoid contaminating his honey and thus destroying his market if detected. My hypothesis is that the economic advantage that accrues to the commercial beekeeper is less cost involved in treatment free bees. No chemicals to buy, no additional equipment, no time and labor spent in treating.
Having kept bees as a hobbiest in the 1970's and '80s, and for the last 8 years, I see no difference in honey production between my Starline hybrids back then, and my B. Weaver or Purvis bees now. In fact, apples to apples (similar pasture, similar colony strength, my bees today seem to have a slight edge on the ones back then. Now the caveat, I do not do any intentional brood breaks. I do let the colonies requeen themselves if something happens to the queen.
My (limited) experience has been that the forage is not as good or widely available today compared to 30 years ago, and that has more impact on honey production than does my use of treatment free bees.
I appreciate the replies from the various commercial folks here. My purpose in the initial question was to see where the commercials were, and to faciltiate sharing of information, either success or failure.
We fill up the equipment we have and just keep making them bigger and bigger. If the bees come back from California as strong as I think they will I am not sure what we will do this year. Keep an eye on the for sale forum. :)
It seems to me the key to going treatment free, especially for the commercial beekeeper, is not to reinvent the wheel, as it were. That could be very expensive and disastrous. The cheapest and easiest way to go treatment free is to requeen with treatment free queens in your regular requeening schedule, or use treatment free package bees when you replace losses with package bees.
So what bees are treatment free:
Minnesota Hygenic bees - I have tried them, and found them lacking. They did not produce acceptable honey surpluses, nor did they survive.
Russians - did not produce acceptable surpluses.
Purvis bees - I split from these, they survived well, and produced good surpluses. By splitting, I mean when I sought to expand my operation by splits, I did walk-away splits to increase colony numbers. Sometimes I would introduce a new queen to the split.
B. Weaver bees - I split from these also, they survived well, and produced good surpluses.
Feral swarms - I haven't had much luck from these, though I've not caught many.
When I have done my walk away splits, I have found that even third and fourth generation queens and their colonies still exhibit the same traits of honey production and survivability as the original queen.
There are others who advertise "treatment free" bees, but I've not used them. And the only "treatment" I use is a screened bottom board. That's it. Otherwise, I manage my colonies just as I did 30 years ago.
I may be crazy, but I still think some commercial beek is going to try one of these bees sooner or later in one of his yards, to see if it makes economic sense. We all know beekeeping is all about risk, and trying to balance the risk with the anticipated rewards.