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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Cheshire, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    56

    Post

    Bare with me because I know this will sound crazy to some of you!
    The old timer that I purchased 3 established hives from in July never medicated any of his colonies, including the 3 I purchased. He has been keeping bees for 25 years with pretty good success. I also know someone else in the area that has 10 hives and he has never medicated his bees.

    Being pretty new to this I was wondering if I should let my colonies be and not medicate them this fall or is this to big a risk? The hives have tons of bees, honey, and pollen. In observing them they seem to be very healthy, however I know that can change. I have researched bees and beekeeping for 2 years now. I like the idea of not medicating, but at the same time I don't want to loose each hive. I have noticed about 10 mites on the bees in my inspections over the past 2 months. Will they have a harder time making it through winter if the mites are heavy? I am just getting ready to start sugar syrup feedings so I have to decide what to do. I am curious to hear any of your ideas on this?! (Go easy on me, I am still learning) Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    >I have noticed about 10 mites on the bees in my inspections over the past 2 months.

    If you see mites on the bees, chances are you have a ton of mites.

    I am going the no chem route, but I have too many hives anyway, so I can afford to lose a few. The ideal situation is to test for your mite load and IF you have a lot of mites, then you act. Whether you use chemicals or soft treatments like oxalic acid is up to you, but if you don't do something with your mite load, you will lose your colonys.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    If you have the time and inclination, you can use a big cardboard box and some powdered sugar on the mites. Pour a cup or two of powdered sugar in the box then shake each frame of bees into the box. Close the lid then shake, rattle, and roll the box around. When you open the lid, the bees will come flying out looking like little albino bees. It will take some time, but most of the phoretic mites will be dislodged. After you've finished all the bees, pour those out that have clustered together onto some hardware cloth before pouring them back into the hive, so that the mites and sugar are separated from the bees. If there is still brood you probably should go back and do it a couple more times. It works but does take time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,081

    Post

    First, do not believe everything that people selling bees/hives say.

    Second, you can recieve some really good advice from this site, but some of that may be incomplete. As a new person, I think its important for small items to be mentioned, as with Dick Allens comments. No mention was given in the process (As time/labor intensive it is, it does work), in regards to the queen. Including a queen in any method of a sugar roll, is a good way to kill, injure or make your queen unable to lay eggs. Finding the queen and setting her aside is as important as the process itself. Before listening to anyone, including myself, research it, think about it, and use common sense. Know what your doing, and why your doing it. Do not let yourself say in the future..."I did it because thats what they told me to do, but I didn't know why".

    With that said,

    You can monthly sugar roll your bees to find the bee natural capability in handling mites. There are bees handling mites on thier own, but they are few in numbers. Knowing if your mite numbers are going up, down or are being maintained, goes into the choices of what you should be doing.

    One of the "rules" in looking at hives is the finding of deformed wings. It is one of the viruses that are transmitted by the mites. If you see deformed winged bees, they are almost certainly doomed, with no intervention. It indicated a certain level of mites, and that the bees will crash, and PMS is probably overwelming the hive also.

    The natural approach is fine, and I wish more beekeepers would be willing to not treat a few of thier hives on a yearly basis. Then do splits from the survivors. It helps the genetic lines. It is tough to take losses.

    I would not hesitate to use some chemical, or soft chemical approach in your hives. You can always stop in the future. But being new, your going to mess up or miss things. I think with everything that could go wrong, letting the hives possible die the first year because of mite issues, is not positive for new beekeepers. I think most would like to have chem free hives. But I also think alot of bad "publicity" about chems come from issues brought to light with beekeepers who do not use them correctly. It may be nice to say "chem free", but using them properly minimizes any hazards. If you use them, use them correctly.

    I would suggest using screen bottom boards, placing the hives in full sun.

    Onother thing to think about....your queen and the genetics in your hive are only as good as the last mating that occurred. Open mating can change things drastically from one your to the next. Thinking you have bees that have been chemical free for years, means nothing unless they are in a controlled setting, and probably inseminated with selected stock.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Post

    If you monitor the mites you don't have to "risk" not using chemicals. I haven't seen bees that don't have mites. The question is how many? The way to get the answer is either a sugar roll or a 24 hour drop test with either a tray on a SBB (Screened Bottom Board) or a sticky board. You can buy sticky boards, or you can make one if you understand how they work.

    The point is there is no need to medicate if you don't have too many mites and you don't have any other problems.

    I have had bees for 30 years and, except for the first two years when the books had me convinced they would all die otherwise, I didn't medicate them at all until about five years ago and then the Apistan was only good for two years and it failed the next. So I don't medicate at all anymore. But that's not saying I don't keep track of the mites and that's not saying I don't do anything about them.

    I have regressed to natural sized cells and in the process of getting them regressed I used FGMO fog and finished off the year with some Oxalic acid vapor.

    I am currently not using any medications and my bees are doing well, if the farmers would just stop spraying them with insecticide during the summer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Ledyard, CT, USA
    Posts
    67

    Post

    In my "not at all scientific" approach to mite control here in connecticut, I have had excellent success with:

    1) (SBB) Screened Bottom Board - My observation with this is that not only does it help reduce the overall mite population in the hive, but as advertised (by brushy mountain at least), the SBB appears to promote rapid brood rearing and overall "happy bees". I have personally replaced solid bottom boards on "Angry" hives with the SBB and have observed a general calming effect over time with these bees. Contrary to current advice though, I *do* place the corregated plastic bottom insert in place on when I overwinter. I have no particular historical reason for doing this, other than I simply fear that freezing winter drafts will blow up via the screen and freeze my bees. Many peopleclaim they leave the insert off all winter and meet with perfect success.

    2) early spring (prior to harvestable honey flow) - treat with FGMO/Thymol fogging once every 5 days.

    3) while Harvest intended flows - fog with plain FGMO once every 5 days.

    4) fall (after all harvested honey removed) - once agina apply fogging once per every 5 days using the FGMO/Thymol mixture.


    My personal experience using the above method has reduced my 24 hr mite counts on all my hives (10+ hives) to below 10. I will note that at no time in my usage of the above outline have I had a hive that was heavily infested by mites. I believe that the FGMO method has worked well for me by the simple fact that I have managed to keep the mite population in check with the fgmo/thymol/SBB combination.


    -cheers


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Cheshire, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    56

    Post

    Thanks everybody!! All off this input really helps. I have been planning to replace all the regular BB with SBB. Do any of you have an idea when to do this? Is now (fall) okay or should I do this in the spring? I am also going to look into the FGMO method for spring treatment.
    Beehappy!!

  8. #8
    jfischer Guest

    Post

    Bjorn:

    > No mention was given in the process (As time/labor
    > intensive it is, it does work), in regards to the
    > queen. Including a queen in any method of a sugar
    > roll, is a good way to kill, injure or make your
    > queen unable to lay eggs.

    Have you seen this yourself, or have others
    reported this? I've not seen any such
    problem, and I used powdered sugar as my
    only treatment for 2 seasons.

    I'm interested in this issue, as I have been
    asked to write an article for the state
    newsletter, and would like to address your
    point, if I can gather some facts.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
    Posts
    821

    Lightbulb

    Lori McAllister

    Go to this news group and see how many FGMO beekeepers was filled with enthusiasm a few years ago and see what’s happen in 2004.
    http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/FGMOBeekeeping/

    It’s lots of work compare to all other treatments and I couldn’t find a single one who has success with that method longer than 4 years without starting a different treatment or loosing there colonies.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Jim asks about queen injury when doing powdered sugar treatments. I've not had a problem. If I can immediately spot the queen I'll cage her and place her in my shirt pocket. If I don't see her right off, then I quickly scan each frame for her before shaking those bees into the box. If I still don't see her she ends up in the box with the rest of the bees.

    Now I know some out there are probably cringing as they read this, but no queens have been damaged so far. I doubt a queen is more fragile than any other caste. Could it happen? Of course it could. A queen can be damaged simply by removing or replacing a frame from the brood nest, but how often does it actually occur? One method some use to find an elusive queen is to shake all the bees through a queen exluder. She survives that.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Syracuse, NY (upstate)
    Posts
    247

    Post

    Question about the powdered sugar... Do you use regular confectionary sugar, like you buy in the grocery store, or do you purchase true powdered sugar (without the corn starch). I've heard about problems when feeding confectionaryh sugar.

  12. #12

    Post

    I have not used any nasty chemicals in my beehives for years and I am proud to say that my honey is free of all those nasty cancer causing chemicals that the farmaceutical companies want you to buy.
    I just fog my bees with white vinegar and oil. I alternate the vinegar and the oil. I hit the bees every week in April and May alternating the 2 liquids and I do it again in August and September. The oil is much easier to fog than the vinegar but I believe that more than one treatment should be used.
    I have not seen one lousy mite in my bees for at least 4 to 5 years. I don't check for mites, I just do the treatments mathematically. It seems to take more time to check for mites than to just fog them.
    I don't care what any one says, I am happy with my procedure and it works for me. I have 26 hives.
    No chemicals, clean, pure USA honey.

    [This message has been edited by mprivate (edited November 06, 2004).]

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    mountain home, ar, usa
    Posts
    378

    Post

    I've gone the no-chemical route, and it's saved me money and time. I use SBB's and russian bees. I really feel like the russians have developed some strategy in dealing with the mites. I'm not sure they make but 90% of the honey that other races make, but the fact that I don't have to treat them, and I can count on them being there next year means that overall, I make MORE honey. A friend of mine lost both of his italian hives this year and swore he was switching to russians because he has to start all over again next year... he even lost his comb to wax moths. Live bees protect comb, dead ones don't.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Post

    >I just fog my bees with white vinegar and oil.

    Several people have asked about the vinegar fog. Maybe you could elaborate on the method and the results.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    >.....about the vinegar fog. Maybe you could elaborate....

    and, maybe give at least a general idea of what part of the country you live in.

  16. #16
    jfischer Guest

    Post


    > I have not used any nasty chemicals in my beehives for years

    This is an false statement, an example of a commonly-held misconception
    among beekeepers that reveals just how people get started down
    the road to using substances that have yet to be shown to be
    effective against anything and/or are not approved for use in beehives
    (and thus, sure to show up at trace levels in honey).

    > and I am proud to say that my honey is free of all those nasty
    > cancer causing chemicals that the farmaceutical companies want
    > you to buy.

    But certainly may show contamination from either of the specific
    chemicals used.

    > I just fog my bees with white vinegar and oil.

    White vinegar IS a chemical. It is acetic acid in a roughly 5%
    solution with water.

    Mineral oil is ALSO a chemical. It is a yummy petrochemical
    byproduct of petroleum refining. Tasty!

    > cancer causing chemicals

    What item used in beekeeping has been shown to be any sort of
    cancer risk? To my knowledge, none has.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Don't know about mineral oil, but acetic acid occurs naturally in honey.

    >What item used in beekeeping has been shown to be any sort of cancer risk?

    Does fluvalinate count? Does coumaphos count?

    [This message has been edited by Dick Allen (edited November 07, 2004).]

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,419

    Post

    I think we all realized than any substance on the planet is, by definition, made up of "chemicals". What is generally meant when referring to it as a treatment is a chemical that is 1) active, e.g. looking to react with something chemically, and 2) not naturally occurring in the food you are eating (in this case honey) and 3) affects the systems of living organisms in very complex ways, such as organophosphates, as opposed to merely raising or lowering the pH of something in small ways.

    By this generally held definition I'd say that FGMO is inert and therefor not a "chemical" to most people although it is also not a nautral occuring thing in food. Acetic acid is naturally occurring in many foods including honey and therefor not a "chemical" to most people. Essential oils would be a bit more complicated since they are more complex and more active, but they are naturally occurring in small amounts in some foods.

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