Kirk Webster Does It Again
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  1. #1
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    Default Kirk Webster Does It Again

    Hi Guys,

    Another must read from Kirk Webster. The May 2009 American Bee Journal has published part 2 in Kirk's series. It's on page 459. And it's a must read.

    What he says is what I've been trying to say for years. It's a summary of my beekeeping experience from commercial to hobbiest, from the king of unregistered treatments to a pauper of treatment free bees. What I've learned along the way is so eloquently stated by Kirk. I should just junk my website and replace it with his article!

    I think there is a stirring in the force. And every beekeeping Jedi can feel the change.Even a stake through the heart can't stop those, like Sam Comfort, who understand, by experience, what's happened and have enough energy and time left to make a difference.

    Even the Bee-L crowd knows something is up. :>)

    The times, they are a changin'.

    Regards
    Dennis Murrrell - the old bwrangler

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  3. #2
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    Thanks Dennis. For those of us that don't get the ABJ is there a link to the article? When was part 1 of that.
    Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BWrangler View Post
    The times, they are a changin'.
    That's the good news. The bad news is that Kirk lost 50-75% of his bees and nucs again this year.

    Kirk and I have been friends for decades. I respect his views on bee breeding, although there are points where our management styles diverge. He got me into better management by raising my own stock and wintering nucleus colonies...a management plan that I'm passing on as best I can.

    I'm not sure what we can do to help his research. I've offered bulk bees from my mating nucs...that are way too strong this year. If you think his work is valuable to us, as an industry, is there something we can do to help? He'd never ask, but...

    I know his losses are a means to an end. Still a sad event. I just wish the ends were closer than the beginnings.

  5. #4
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    michael palmer writes:
    That's the good news. The bad news is that Kirk lost 50-75% of his bees and nucs again this year.

    tecumeh:
    first off I look forward to reading the article myself.

    however one should wonder about death losses of the above proportion or folks that make claims to having the silver bullet to the bee keeping worlds problems who's bees never seem capable of capturing a honey crop. at some point beyond all the rhetoric the rubber has to meet with the highway.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    michael palmer writes:
    That's the good news. The bad news is that Kirk lost 50-75% of his bees and nucs again this year.

    tecumeh:
    first off I look forward to reading the article myself.

    however one should wonder about death losses of the above proportion or folks that make claims to having the silver bullet to the bee keeping worlds problems who's bees never seem capable of capturing a honey crop. at some point beyond all the rhetoric the rubber has to meet with the highway.
    Tecemeh, you obviously don't know Kirk Webster. He never claimed to have the silver bullet. His only claim is that the chemical control of varroa is not the way to go and will fail the way has failed.
    As far the rubber and road, I am willing to bet that Kirk Webster does not need to get any bees from any one and specially does not need any package from the south. I am sure that he will replace the dead ones and get the number back this year. That is the self sustained beekeeping that he has always advocated.

    Gilman

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleta12 View Post
    I am sure that he will replace the dead ones and get the number back this year. That is the self sustained beekeeping that he has always advocated.

    Gilman
    All well and good depending on what you want from your bees. I haven't read everything that Kirk has written, but I do believe he has acquired some out side genetic stock in the past. I wish him luck and commend him for trying to do what he is trying to do. I hope he successful in attaining his goals. But I wouldn't call him successful yet. Not that you were.
    Mark Berninghausen

  8. #7
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    I'm sorry to hear that Kirks losses were so high.

    The word "again" ,tho,makes me nervous.

    Mike, a few questions (since we know Kirk is internet free):
    Is this higher than normal loss?
    Does he have an idea as to the cause(s) of the loss?
    I know he uses an isolated mating area but does he bring in new genetic material on a regular basis or is he crossing the same old bees.

    Kirk has been an inspiration to me and is the reason I'm treatment free(OK, you too Dennis)
    I just hope he doesn't work himself into a corner.

    Bees are dynamic,constantly adapting if we let them.

    If I get a mild case of Swine Flu will I be better able to deal with the next "pandemic"?

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Grimshaw View Post
    If I get a mild case of Swine Flu will I be better able to deal with the next "pandemic"?
    If you get the worst case of Swine Flu will you care about the next "pandemic"

    mike

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Grimshaw View Post
    The word "again" ,tho,makes me nervous.

    Mike, a few questions (since we know Kirk is internet free):
    Is this higher than normal loss?
    Does he have an idea as to the cause(s) of the loss?
    I know he uses an isolated mating area but does he bring in new genetic material on a regular basis or is he crossing the same old bees.

    Yes, quite a bit higher than the last couple years. He recovered a few years ago with brood and bees from Mraz's yards. This time it won't be easy, as he lost many of his replacement nucs.

    Kirk said his bees didn't get a Fall flow. Randy Oliver and I visited Kirk in October. The bees didn't look very good then, and it was pretty obvious at that time that they were in trouble. Small clusters on mostly empty black comb...hardly any stores.

    I don't believe Kirk brings in any outside stock. If he does, it would be from the Russian breeding project.

  11. #10
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    Mike: so Kirk did not feed in fall?

    In Wisco where I keep Russians we also had poor fall flow and I fed heavily and still had higher losses then normal on Russians although only in the 20% range.

  12. #11
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    Hi Guys,

    Sorry to hear of Kirk's losses. For me, what makes Kirk's articles so powerful, is that they change the focus and trajectory of modern beekeeping. At times, the results both methods experience look alike, both good and bad. But the two are headed in different directions.

    All of Kirks ABJ articles would be a good read here at Beesource. I've mentioned that to Barry and know he's attempted to contact Kirk. Not sure where all that stands.

    Regards
    BWrangler

  13. #12
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    How many years has he been at this?

    I understand it takes several years to produce the type of stock he's looking for and painful losses are likely along the way.

  14. #13
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    losses are typical in agriculture. one good thing to do is have a bit of diversavication. another good idea is to hold back a portion of each years income for the bad years.
    all that is gold does not glitter

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Wax View Post
    How many years has he been at this?

    I understand it takes several years to produce the type of stock he's looking for and painful losses are likely along the way.
    He hasn't treated for Varroa since about 1999.

    I think it's going to take longer than we think to develop a bee that is Varroa tolerant, and productive.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post

    I think it's going to take longer than we think to develop a bee that is Varroa tolerant, and productive.
    My goal is MORE Varroa tolerent.I know that's attainable.

    As for productivity,I'm sure glad my bees don't have to pay the mortgage.I feel for you guys.

    Re Kirk: Any way I can help,let me know.Don't have much to ofer except labor.I'm only 4 hrs down tne road.

    Jack

  17. #16
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    Not that I'm an expert by any means, but I'm thinking the losses we are having the last few years are not just from varroa. I'm thinking it's Nosema C. as well as something else, perhaps problems with keeping old combs too long or systemic pesticides or something else or combinations of the above with something else. I saw above a mention that Kirk has small clusters of bees on black combs... I'm thinking old combs are an issue at times. I've also read several reports that support the idea of Nosema Ceranae being a very big problem for the last 2 or 3 years. I think most people are still focusing too narrowly on varroa and need to look at other stressors and health issues with the bees.
    I'm not always the brightest Beek in the box, so I carry a flash light for my occasional dim moments.

  18. #17
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    ray's comments mirrow my own thinking. some folks have become so attuned to seeing varroa behind every problem that they fail to look further and of course the problems associated with the means with which varroa was dealt with in the past are also totally ignored.

    I would suggest (which also seems to mirrow ray's comments) that folks need to also alerted to watching for the two nosemas .

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    All well and good depending on what you want from your bees. I haven't read everything that Kirk has written, but I do believe he has acquired some out side genetic stock in the past. I wish him luck and commend him for trying to do what he is trying to do. I hope he successful in attaining his goals. But I wouldn't call him successful yet. Not that you were.
    I call any man successful if he keeps reaching for his goals. The reward of any effort we make is the effort itself, not the result. If it were only the results that count the whole world would have given up a long time ago because the results seldom seem worth the effort when you get there. As long as one has the passion and ability to keep trying, they are filling thier life with value. When they get as far as they wanted to go and stop, they are dead even if they are still breathing.
    doug

  20. #19
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    For colonies to die it takes more than one problem but I think that even with the existence of other threats to honey bees Varroa is still the ultimate killer.

    My classic winter kill scenario in the north starts with high mite loads in the fall, week fall flow which leads to low bee numbers and irregular honey stores and small cluster that die in the winter or late winter.

    So it is late summer that seals the fate of the colonies we manage.
    We should monitor for varroa and check the flow and feed accordingly. Keeping bees in good fall flow yards is the best.

    Gilman

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleta12 View Post
    My classic winter kill scenario in the north starts with high mite loads in the fall, week fall flow which leads to low bee numbers and irregular honey stores and small cluster that die in the winter or late winter.

    Gilman
    I agree with gilman is it a bad fall flow or do you have too many mites so that the flow looks bad? be right and the bees win, be wrong and they die.

    mike

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