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  1. #41
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    >even if they think that they are
    breeding from "feral survivor queens" or other
    such nonsense terms applied to swarms that
    issued from managed hives and settled as the
    most recent tenants of popular nesting spots.

    Jim, seems like we've been through this. Of course this statment is hard to ignore, but I haven’t had the time to devote to a proper response. I still don’t have enough time, so here’s a short response:

    http://www.beesource.com/pov/ahb/jee1995.htm

    This study says that there are definite genetic differences between commercial stock and feral stock in the southern United States.

    "Based on mtDNA haplotypes and allozyme variability we report significant differences between feral and commercial populations of honey bees from the southern United States."

    So, contrary to your opinion, these bee scientists apparently believe, based on DNA eveidence, that "feral" bees are quite different at a fundemental genetic level.

    Dr. Larry Connor and I had a discussion about the feral bees we’ve both been finding back in June of this year. He has also observed the same differences from commercial stocks that I have pointed out in previous discussions.

    And, of course, many of us on this board have discussed what we are finding and the differences in winter clusters and behaviors for some time.

    Personally I’ve seen dramatic changes in what I find in feral hives between 31 years ago and now. Back then most of the ferals I took out of houses and trees were of a dark leather color and had similar habits to the Italians as far as overwintering size and other behavior such as brood rearing during what time of the year etc. Now about half of the ones I find are black and overwinter on significantly smaller clusters and are much more frugal than even the Carniolans on brood rearing and cutting back in a dearth or for winter.

    So I would have to say, contrary to your opinion, which seems to be founded entirely on your speculation and no formal study and no actual experience with these dark ferals, by my observation and those of several respected bee scientist, based on behavior, looks and mitochondrial DNA, feral bees are quite different from commercial stock.

    And frankly I find your use of the term "some other such nonsense" discourteous and disrespectful at best.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #42
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    Michael, what is the method of establishing if a hive is feral as opposed to a swarm settled in an existing location (without DNA). I've caught what I believe is my 1st feral swarm (May) that issued from a nearby tree alleged to be inhabited continually for 3 yrs. The bees are a color match to what you describe (almost a midnight). I have not established them as far as winter cluster or other traits. Only suspicsion.

    1) Does this criteria fit your definition of Feral?
    2) If I want to breed from this stock should I be wintering them in the north then taking them south in the spring.
    3) Is it a wasted excercise with 1 feral hive (if it assuming I breed 10 or 15 queens from this hive) in a breeding yard of 60 hives of my own stock of 10 yrs work to expect any significant contribution.
    4) Should I be isolating this stock from mine, buying feral queens and concentrating on one discipline as opposed to incorporating them into my stock (which I'm pretty happy with)?

    Opinions? Thanks!

  3. #43
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    >what is the method of establishing if a hive is feral as opposed to a swarm settled in an existing location (without DNA).

    The size of the bee is a pretty good indication. If they have been feral for a few generations of swarms they are almost 3mm shorter than typical domestic bees.

    http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/table.htm

    According to Baudoux a bee from a 4.7mm cell (in the range of typical in a natural comb hive) 12mm long while one from a 5.5mm cell is 14.82. 2.82 is pretty noticable without even measuring them. But you can measure them if you like too.

    Black is another indicator of the "different" ferals I've been finding in recent years since the Varroa hit. Other characteristics are that the queens are flightier, the bees often are runnier, but sometimes not, and they overwinter on smaller clusters. They also stop brood rearing in dearths sooner and are, all in all, more conservative in brood rearing only really rearing brood all out if there is a flow or feeding going on.

    > The bees are a color match to what you describe (almost a midnight). I have not established them as far as winter cluster or other traits. Only suspicsion.

    After a winter you'll have a better idea.

    >1) Does this criteria fit your definition of Feral?

    Partially.

    >2) If I want to breed from this stock should I be wintering them in the north then taking them south in the spring.

    I'm not sure I understand your intent? Are you a migratory beekeeper?

    >3) Is it a wasted excercise with 1 feral hive (if it assuming I breed 10 or 15 queens from this hive) in a breeding yard of 60 hives of my own stock of 10 yrs work to expect any significant contribution.

    If that one was nearby there may well be more feral hives nearby. Odds are the queen will fly further than the drones from your yard and she will likely breed with drones from somewhere else. The above study would support that the ferals don't seem to be interbreeding with the Italians that much. Probably the drones fly at different times and the size difference (according to other studies) may play into it.


    >4) Should I be isolating this stock from mine, buying feral queens and concentrating on one discipline as opposed to incorporating them into my stock (which I'm pretty happy with)?

    That's always a tough choice. That, of course, si up to you. If you like what you have, maybe you should try to keep the ferals somewhere else as a seperate experiment to see how you like them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #44
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    I am migratory, wintering in the south. I do winter hives in NY and then take the survior stock south to breed in April in SC. I have ordered a considerable variety of commercial stock over the years and have settled on a cross that includes the Hawaiin strain of cordovans, carnolian and buckfast over the past 6 yrs. The bees seem to be hardy, run a buckfastish brood nest and outperformed our other stocks this year by a notable difference in both pollen and honey production. Wintering (cordovan influence)is improving but I need to concentrate more on mgt and wintering in the north (lkke I did as a hobbyist) before I'm convinced. My goal is to be out of migration within 5 yrs and possibly wintering nucs in a controlled environment. I share some of Jim's skeptisim on Ferals. Not that feral bees are a superior strain, they are the ultimate survivor stock, but how we acurately identify them without expensive DNA testing. I'm a small (150 hive) operation with everything based on commercial mgt. paractices. I'm trying to systematically move into as much chemical free, non-bee mill queen mgt. as nature will allow. It's difficult due to the many aspects (regressing to small cell foundation, refining a consistisent breeding stock etc.). Your posts make indicate it may be possible as you have no axe to grind against chemical use apparrently and have been able to step away with 50 hives. That 50 range is outside the fringe of hobbyist experimentation. If you're having success we should be able to extrapolate that to larger numbers. Thanks for the info.

  5. #45
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    I went out to feed Saturday and Sunday and discovered I have 94 hives in my back yard. Half of them are nucs, but still... If the nucs survive I may have to move some more of them to my outyard come spring. [img]smile.gif[/img] There are only four or five out there and a couple more in town, so I'm probably over 100 right now. Most aren't that big though and I'll probably do some combines before winter.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #46
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    > So I would have to say, contrary to your
    > opinion... my observation...

    ...is simply another opinion. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    > those of several respected bee scientist[s]

    I'm not doubting THEIR findings, as they went
    and did some DNA work to back up their claims.
    My problem is when someone starts selling products
    (bees) for a profit as "different" without any
    proof that the specific bees sold are themselves
    any different.

    > based on behavior, looks and mitochondrial DNA,

    Well, I understand the validity of mitochondrial
    DNA as a way to verify parentage, but you don't
    have any of that for the specific bees you have collected, do you?

    "Looks" are more than a little vague, given the
    wide range of appearances within even my
    "pedigree" hives, all obsessive-compulsively
    requeened with stock of known parentage from
    reputable suppliers of stock bred from AI queens
    in what they want to call a "closed breeding
    program".

    As for behavior, I'm not sure that we can nail
    that one down so clearly, since the behaviors
    have to be directly observed to be the basis
    for a claim, and the claimed "behavior" is itself
    part of the claimed "value added" being sold,
    isn't it?

    > feral bees are quite different from commercial
    > stock.

    SOME feral bees certainly were found to be during
    the study, but are those YOU have found any
    different? What is the basis for touted them as somehow "different"?

    It appears to be "looks", and "looks" alone.

    And, in regard to the DNA differences, do those differences mean anything?

    Do those differences have any connection with the
    specific claims being made as to advantages in
    the area of "survivability"?

    > And frankly I find your use of the term "some
    > other such nonsense" discourteous and
    > disrespectful at best.

    Sorry, I call 'em as I see 'em. If it is any
    consolation, I am just as hard on the queen
    producers who claim that they are "breeding for
    resistance" to this and that. The theory is
    simple - don't try and sell me something
    intangible - sell me tangible things, and honestly
    admit to what I can expect of your bees.

    What is "nonsense" is making statements like
    the following series:

    a) Some ferals are different, in ways not clearly
    defined

    b) Therefore, all ferals, including those I can
    find must ALSO be different

    c) The differences make for "better" bees

    d) Pay me money for these bees, as they are
    better.

    That specific sequence simply does not hold up
    to even cursory scrutiny.

  7. #47
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    >It appears to be "looks", and "looks" alone.

    Color, survivability, size, brood rearing behavior (cutting back at different times), overwintering behavior (more frugal, significantly smaller clusters), flying before daylight when the Italians are not, flying in 50 degree F or slightly below when the Italians are not. That's a bit more than "looks" alone.

    >a) Some ferals are different, in ways not clearly
    defined

    I think I clearly defined them on several occasions including this one.

    >b) Therefore, all ferals, including those I can
    find must ALSO be different

    I have no idea where you got this. I have enumerated differences and ways to tell that they have been feral for some time, on several occasions. Bee size, and cell size being very useful. Behavior being a very useful. I often find ferals that are obviously just Italians by behavior, although usually darker. I used to find them more often than now, but about half of them still are. I don't assume they are different merely because I found them in a tree.

    >c) The differences make for "better" bees

    Nothing succeeds like success. IMO survival is a very nice trait.

    >d) Pay me money for these bees, as they are
    better.

    I don't actually remember ever saying they are better. Better is a pretty subjective thing, even with bees. What I have done is to say what their characteristics are.

    Is frugality a good trait? There are advantages to the Italian bee mindset to rear brood like crazy and advantages to being more frugal and not wasting stores to rear brood when it isn't needed. From a beekeepers point of view it's rather convenient to be able to manipulate brood rearing for when you think the timing will be best. That is probably easier to stimulate in Italians than other breeds.

    I have only said that they are surviving and handling mites on small cell comb. I don't know and have stated several times that I don't know, how they would do on 5.4mm comb.

    >>even if they think that they are
    breeding from "feral survivor queens" or other
    such nonsense terms applied to swarms that
    issued from managed hives and settled as the
    most recent tenants of popular nesting spots.

    >Sorry, I call 'em as I see 'em.

    Some people have learned to disagree while being both courteous and respectful. It's a talent that is very useful at times. Perhaps you should investigate this.

    However, you did NOT say this in disagreement with something that was said. You pulled it right out of the blue. Apparently the current train of thought didn't offer enough opportunities for verbal abuse.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #48
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    I'm going to step between the two of you for a minute and hope I'm not too seriously injured in the process.

    Whenever I buy packages, the suppliers are always willing to make claims about the superiority of their bees. Usually with no backing other than the suppliers (I believe honest) belief. Not terribly different from when I buy a car. Every sales dude says that his is the best. (Honesty may be more of an issue here.)

    I haven't bought any queens from Michael and I don't have any plans in the near future to do so, but if I were in the market for queens, I would say he's provided as much evidence as to his "product's" characteristics as anyone and more than most.

    If I wanted to pass judgement on his queens, or anyone else's for that matter, I'd want to buy some and see how they did for me. Then I might feel qualified to put thumbs up or down.
    Linux - World domination through world cooperation

  9. #49
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    > Whenever I buy packages, the suppliers are always
    > willing to make claims about the superiority of
    > their bees. Usually with no backing other than
    > the suppliers (I believe honest) belief.

    Yeah, and that is a SERIOUS problem when they
    lead beekeepers to think that they are buying
    bees that are somehow "immune" or "resistant"
    to this or that. The best example is "we haven't
    treated our hives", as if the open-mated progeny
    of their queens are going to have any such
    attributes.

    Some of the advertising is just plain fraudulent.
    Unwary beekeepers buy their bees, don't test or
    inspect for diseases, and are surprised when their
    hives dwindle and die.

    > I'd want to buy some and see how they did for
    > me. Then I might feel qualified to put thumbs
    > up or down.

    One does not need to "test" to see that many
    of the claims made are spurrious on their face.

    Its rather like when Hummer came out with the "H2".
    I did not need to test drive the thing to find
    out that I did not want to give them my money.
    I raced down to the dealership with my checkbook
    in hand only to be surprised to find out that
    the name "H2" did NOT mean that it ran on
    Hydrogen. Bummer. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  10. #50
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    > Some people have learned to disagree while being
    > both courteous and respectful. It's a talent that
    > is very useful at times. Perhaps you should
    > investigate this.

    Its not "disrespectful", its just a clearly
    presented logical argument that you cannot refute.

    Rather than addressing the point that there is
    no connection between the findings of the study
    that you offered as some form of "proof" and
    your own (lack of) findings, you want to fall
    back to a passive-aggressive tactic of playing
    "hurt".

    Horsepucky! If you want people's money, you had
    better be able to back up your claims with
    more than "nothing succeeds like success", as
    your "success" may be due to factors that
    have nothing to do with the bees themselves.

    I have yards where varroa is not a problem.
    Does this imply that I have "special" bees?
    Of course not - the yards are merely isolated.
    But I could make all the claims you make about
    your ferals about bees that happen to be in
    these yards, as they require little if any
    action in terms of diseases and pests, and
    I have very good records to document my
    experience.

  11. #51
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    Michael, are you wintering nucs outside? What size equipment (frames, boxes, expanded foam?)and has this been reasonably successful? I'm assuming you can't supplemental feed over the winter due to climate so is it a small cluster, small hive, less energy to heatm, less food or massive stores needed in a small space.
    Don't mean to pick your brain, just answer what you have time for.

  12. #52
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    >Its not "disrespectful", its just a clearly
    presented logical argument that you cannot refute.

    Out of the blue you use terms such as "nonesense" to describe your opinion of something already discussed elsewhere and NOT being discussed here. I saw no logical arguments for me to refute.

    >Rather than addressing the point that there is
    no connection between the findings of the study
    that you offered as some form of "proof" and
    your own (lack of) findings, you want to fall
    back to a passive-aggressive tactic of playing
    "hurt".

    The point in quoting the study was that you are saying that all feral bees are merely recent escapees of no different genetics than the commercial stock. The study quoted refutes that. Obviously I have no genetic testing equipment and have no plans to buy any. It's barely worth buying all the eqiupment to raise the queens, let alone invest in more eqiupment to do genetic testing for no other reason than to make you happy, which I doubt that it would anyway. You would merely come up with a different argument.

    >Horsepucky! If you want people's money, you had
    better be able to back up your claims with
    more than "nothing succeeds like success", as
    your "success" may be due to factors that
    have nothing to do with the bees themselves.

    What claims do I need to back up? What claims have I made that you are questioning? Could you make specific quotes please? I have made no claims other than to state the facts that I know and pointing out the facts that I do not know.

    >I have yards where varroa is not a problem.
    Does this imply that I have "special" bees?

    It is one possible explaination. I have three yards where it's not a problem spread over about 75 miles.

    >Of course not - the yards are merely isolated.
    But I could make all the claims you make about
    your ferals about bees that happen to be in
    these yards, as they require little if any
    action in terms of diseases and pests, and
    I have very good records to document my
    experience.

    And what SPECIFIC claims have I made that you are disagreeing with? Please enumerate with exact quotes.

    That they are feral? They were not in a domestic hive when I got them. So what are they?

    That they are surviving? Well, they are alive, so that's a bit hard to argue with. That I believe they have survived for some time, I have repeatedly said is because of size. 3mm shorter bees are pretty noticablly different from recent escapees.

    That they are genetically different? The only genetic claim I've made is that I have no idea where they originated but they have different behaviors than any domestics I have seen.

    That they are surviving the mites? I have repeatedly stated they I only know they are doing that on small cell in my yards. I have no idea how they would do under other circumstances.

    I have stated all of these things from the begining and have not made any other claims that I can remember. Which of these do you not think is true? What other claims than these are you saying I have made?

    I have not had any complaints from any customers concerning my queens. Why do you have a problem with this?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #53
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    >Michael, are you wintering nucs outside?

    Yes.

    >What size equipment (frames, boxes, expanded foam?)

    I have tried several things and I will be trying something different again this year.

    >has this been reasonably successful?

    No. So far it has not.

    >I'm assuming you can't supplemental feed over the winter due to climate so is it a small cluster, small hive, less energy to heatm, less food or massive stores needed in a small space.

    I've tried several models.

    The first year, I just put the nucs in 10 frame mediums over notched, doublescreened inner covers over strong hives. No feed, just full of stores. The inner cover hole would let the hot air into the nuc. A few of them survived and most died, apparently from the condensation.

    The next year, I put some in the styrofoam medium beemax boxes. In other words a nuc in one ten frame box with insulation below and above. Again condensation seemed to be the hard part. Plus a lot of the hives seem to succumb on those really cold snaps (-28 last winter).

    The other experiment that year was the apartment model with eight frame boxes. Again condensation seemed to be a problem with some of them having puddles of water in the bottom and mold growing on some of the frames. And again the really cold spells often seemed to be their demise.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/Apar...sWintering.JPG
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/Apar...ppedInFoam.jpg

    This year, I plan to put two rows of five frame nucs on a four by eight sheet of foam and plywood with an "alley" down the back. I made bottoms with a small vent in the back (about 3/4" by 1") and a small upper entrance (about 3/8" by 3/4") and a small vent (about 1" diameter) right in the top and a large screened hole in the cover for a mason jar feeder. On top of the touble row I will put a box made of one by eight and a plywood lid with syrofoam. Then I was going to wrap the sides in foam so it's all enclosed and put a small thermostatically controled space heater inside that will keep the feed liquid, moderate the really cold nights and hopefully drive out some of the moisture. I will put two of these end to end with a double row of eight frame nucs on the second one with similar ventilation. I modeled it off of the observation hives that seem to do well enough. But they observation hives can break cluster anytime, get to feed anytime and have good ventilation and some heat.

    I also have three nucs on top of a box with a "light bulb" still air system on a thermostat.

    I have no idea how well it will work. Every year I've gotten a few of the nucs through, but most don't seem to make it.

    Details on the apartment model are on my web site.

    From conversations with other beekeepers overwintering nucs (usually in slightly warmer climates) I've come to the conclusion that a minimal sized box with constant feed is better than a bigger box with more stores for a small cluster like a nuc. Some outside source of heat, and some controled ventilation, I hope will deal with the condensation issues. The heat source, I hope will also moderate the really cold nights and maybe even keep them able to take feed all winter.

    How well it works remains to be seen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #54
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    > Why do you have a problem with this?

    Because it doesn't fit the scientific box that Jim is stuck in. That's just an understanding one must have when discussing topics with him. I'm not knocking science or Jim, just pointing out the bias Jim brings to the discussion.

    Greetings all.

    - Barry
    Regards, Barry

  15. #55
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    Acutally, Jim, I have already had this same discussion with you about feral queens, in a different thread on a different forum. It ran into three pages. What is the point of having it again? Apparently you're STILL trying to understand that discussion? I suggest you reread it, instead, and save me a lot of work.

    http://www.beesource.com/cgi-bin/ubb...7;t=000195;p=1
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #56
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    Michael, thanks for the info, I'll check on your website. I read and article recently about wintering nucs in an insulated, light excluding building (shed), in Minnesota, with a thermostatically controled. The writer exclaimed on the virtues. I don't understand how bees go for the 3 or 4 mos. they would need to be confined in my area (or yours) without cleansing flights.

    To add to Barry's comment on Jim, he does have a very scientific approach which some find course. (I do not, I find his very honest and direct, sometimes challanging approach a good thing). I, for one, have gained a great deal of insight from him on many issues and his influence on my degree of skeptism toward a more conservative approach to unproven techniques. That temperance is needed on this site to keep us from falling into the anecdotal abyss.

  17. #57
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    >>Some of the advertising is just plain fraudulent. Unwary beekeepers buy their bees, don't test or inspect for diseases, and are surprised when their hives dwindle and die.

    Some advertising IS JUST PLAIN FRAUDULENT. However, alot of advertising IS JUST PLAIN OPINION. If the same Hummer dealership were to advertise as having the BEST SERVICE IN THE SOUTHEAST would that be fraudulent? Maybe they feel that it is the best. I argue that for one it is their opinion and two it is difficult at best to prove. Was there intent to commit fraud? Again difficult to prove.

    The bottom line: BUYER BEWARE! The consumer over time will ultimately be the judge.

    >>If you want people's money, you had
    better be able to back up your claims with
    more than "nothing succeeds like success",

    The consumer will vote with their orders based on results. A happy customer will come back. An unhappy consumer will tell everyone they know.

    I don't have MB's queens and have no interest in purchasing one. I heard opinion. Consumers have an obligation to do their homework.

    I understand Jim's concern especially when it comes to newbies. They have an insufficient knowledge base from which to evaluate opinion from "fact". The discussion of small cell and smaller size bee might go right over some of their heads and what might jump out at them is the comments on handling mite loads. Maybe they now see.... SUPER BEE! (obviously I'm assuming the extreme).

    MB, due to his knowledge and many posts, has alot of people that hang onto his every word. Because of that maybe he has an added responsibility to choose his words carefully. That said..... I still heard opinion and observation. If we take the entire discussion(s) as a whole I think that is apparent.

    I couldn't find where MB has ever claimed to KNOW them to be from a feral source only that he believes them to be citing what he has observed and believes their behaviors represent.

    Take it for what it's worth. Let them buy one if they wish and try it. If they are happy great! If not then they won't buy another and I'm sure we'll hear about it.

    I'm still expecting to see a pay-per-view fight Fischer vs. Bush. Might be worth the $$

    Jim- while I at times disagree with your methods, I appreciate your scientific approach. If nothing else in that it makes one think alittle more deeply about the topics. Sort-of the the devil's advocate thing on some of the issues. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Hey! If we all thought alike we wouldn't need this forum would we?

    Ding! Round 50? What are we up to now?
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  18. #58
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    > I'm still expecting to see a pay-per-view
    > fight Fischer vs. Bush

    No way. I've met Mike, and he seems just as
    peaceful as I am.

    > the devil's advocate

    As I AM the actual devil, I am a pro se
    litigant. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    > Because it doesn't fit the scientific box that
    > Jim is stuck in.

    Now we are refuting science itself?
    On the internet, a toy that simply would not exist
    if not for this "science" you find so limiting?

    > just pointing out the bias Jim brings to the
    > discussion.

    So a complete LACK of bias is itself some sort
    of bias? Wow, I need to go find an analyst
    and put him on overtime to work that one out
    for me.

    [size="1"][ October 06, 2005, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: Jim Fischer ][/size]

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Barry,

    Why is there a little notice proclaiming an edit now?? Just curious as to its intent or purpose.

    As in below.. And below....

    [size="1"][ October 06, 2005, 07:12 PM: Message edited by: Sundance ][/size]

  20. #60
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Squamish BC
    Posts
    30

    Post

    Biodynamic farming is actually an accepted way with strict regulatory standards, at least here in BC Canada.
    It takes a minimum of 3 years to become "Certified Organic" and then a minimum of two more aditional full years to become "Certified Biodynamic". I don't have any knowledge on what is being done with bees here but I know when Organics came into the stores, people laughed. Well guess what... 9% of people purchase some organic products. Big business is now clambering to to take it's share. So as long as it is regulated I feel it is worthy of exploration for a business venture, and who knows we may all learn something from their methods. And if they aren't using ANY chemicals sounds like they'll be the ones to breed mite/disease resistant strains which will save us all down the road.

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