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  1. #1
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    Default Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Hello Treatment free beeks and trollers alike. A man I know who produced 6000 queens last season told me that he believed that if a U.S.D.A. law was enacted to keep all beekeepers from treating their stock for varroa infestation that the American bee stock would most likely bounce back treatment free within 2 years(He himself was in no way advocating for this "law" we were just philosophizing about treatment free beekeeping because he knew that was my interest). I thought about this a lot................
    Last season I was able to connect with some like minded folks in our beekeeping association that were also either doing treatment free or interested in it. (With the help of senior membership we formed a sub-group.) This season I am bringing the idea to the group of a yearly genetics swap for those interested in doing their own queen breeding and yearly splits. Last months meeting featured Dr. Robin Underwood explaining her thesis for an experiment that she has already received funding for. Basically she is starting altogether 36 Langstroth colonies, from either packages or treatment free nys suppliers. She will have 2 yards here in Pennsylvania located many miles from each other and on several hundred acre organic farms. She will treat and feed 9 colonies at each location traditionally using all equipment and medications popular on the market for whatever problems they encounter. ie mites, dearths, nosema, afb, etc. And she will treat the other 9 at each yard organically or treatment free. She has funding enough to carry out the research for 2 years and is hoping that the experiment will lend itself to further future funding. I thought this experiment would be of great interest here in this controversial forum group. I will keep you all posted as much as I am able and am sure some of you will be as eager to read her data as it comes in
    Last edited by GreenWay; 03-05-2015 at 04:29 PM. Reason: accidentally posted before finished typing

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    It would take more than a law to prevent beekeepers from treating.
    "Imagine a world in which we are all enlightened by objective truths rather than offended by them."Neil Tyson

  3. #3
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    very interesting gw, looking forward to hearing how it works out.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #4
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    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Great idea.
    Troiller # 1 calling BS on this trash idea. Won't matter a hoot that tens of thousands of people will be out of work as a result and the public will be stuck eating all rubber chickens for 5 years...

    Whose going to "finance"
    1. ALL the beekeepers.
    2.ALL the beekeepers helpers.
    3.All the almond growers.and watermelon and other vines seed growers.
    4. All the people they hire... and so on.

    Wanna see Mann lake and other shops fold? This would do it....


    I produce over 6000 queens a year and can tell you that your "two years" is only the first tok on a bad pipe dream. Will take over a dozen years to even get close genetic wise and the rebuild time will be another half dozen. ( if its possible that it will happen at all)

    BTW There is a difference between tF and organic TF. Which road are you advocating?

  5. #5
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    Oct 2010
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    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
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    830

    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    BTW There is a difference between tF and organic TF. Which road are you advocating?
    I agree. OA is an organic treatment that absolutely blasts mites off of bees. Using this method is the same as treating. A true TF experiment, to me, would be just that - not treating, or as one BeeSource member states it "non-intervention". She should also start with 40 hives in that TF apiary because there's going to be some losses lol. It hasn't been explained either if queen pinching, drone striking, swarming, supercedure, etc are going to be used. If the 'organic farm' colonies were to be placed in hives, trees, barrels, whatever and checked to make sure the same colony was occupying the same cavity for x years without human intervention and was surviving, now those are results that would interest me. The way the OP explained the study leaves me skeptical of the experiment.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Cross Plains, WI
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    A much more realistic idea is for a northern state to pass a law in which it prohibits treated and infected bees from crossing its borders. This would have little impact on the almonds and the industry as a whole. This would give that state and opportunity to fix the problem and break the package addiction cycle which seems to only benefit California.

    The law could be written in the form of creating a "Wisconsin Block", passed by Wisconsin, in which only bees that can be located in Wisconsin come from MN, IA, IL, MI and can not have been in any other state for more than 10 days for the previous 12 months.

    While cheating would obviously happen it would be enough to establish a treatment free foothold and allow survivor bees the ability to out breed the weak warm weather ones.

    My 2 cents at this early hour,

    Andrew

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    wow, no comment.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    First....make no mistake, there are 'trollers' on both sides of this issue.
    In my opinion, someone hoping to produce treatment free queens with minimal outside influence might be wise to examine the Russian Queen Breeders Assn guidelines. Their members are required to manage their breeding yards to minimize non Russian drones and their stock is genetically tested to assure a high degree of pure genetics. I would think anyone hoping to make a controlled queen breeding/mating of tf stock could look at those protocols and see if they couldn't be applied to limit outiside 'contamination' .
    Just a thought.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  9. #9

    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Quote Originally Posted by GreenWay View Post
    . A man I know who produced 6000 queens last season told me that he believed that if a U.S.D.A. law was enacted to keep all beekeepers from treating their stock for varroa infestation that the American bee stock would most likely bounce back treatment free within 2 years
    I know a fellow who produces thousands of queens every year....and he said if everyone stopped treating it would be a hundred years, if ever, before the European honey bee population recovered.
    What makes your guy's opinion better than my guy's?
    I suppose the fact that I don't embrace your guy's opinion must make me a troller but then in my opinion this is a trolling thread all by itself.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  10. #10
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    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Quote Originally Posted by GreenWay View Post
    A man I know who produced 6000 queens last season told me that he believed that if a U.S.D.A. law was enacted to keep all beekeepers from treating their stock ....
    Perhaps you and he are not aware that it is the USDA that is the SPONSORING agency behind the recent changes to the status of oxalic acid as a varroa control (specifically, making oxalic acid a registered varroa control).

    Yes, I know this is the TF forum - the point is that the USDA clearly is of the opinion that varroa isn't going to be controlled by 'treatment free' techniques, and such a law is not in the realm of possibilities.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    "Why don't we pass a law to keep drugs off the street?"--seen on a bumper sticker...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Quote Originally Posted by xphoney View Post
    A much more realistic idea is for a northern state to pass a law in which it prohibits treated and infected bees from crossing its borders. This would have little impact on the almonds and the industry as a whole. This would give that state and opportunity to fix the problem and break the package addiction cycle which seems to only benefit California.

    The law could be written in the form of creating a "Wisconsin Block", passed by Wisconsin, in which only bees that can be located in Wisconsin come from MN, IA, IL, MI......
    Andrew
    Sorry Barry but I'm just got up on the wrong side of the bed again!


    Andrew:
    Hate to ask? Do they still have civics classes in the schools of Wisconsin? Do they actually teach anything during it? Do you have any clue what the word Constitution means?
    Have you ever read it?

    Finally do you have any clue as to the only authority that is given the power to do what you are asking to be implemented?

    What you are asking is not going to happen and if it did would be overturned in federal court as fast as it was enacted.

    FYI: Wisconsin is not allowed to do what you ask...... Only Congress has the power to do so under the commerce clause.......

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Did I understand correctly that the experiment involves having treated and non-treated bees in the same yard? How's that going to work, no matter how "organic" the local forage is? (And realistically how many "organic farms" are actually big enough to contain the entire foraging range of even a single colony?)

    Anyway, testing the outcomes of having TF and non-TF bees in the same area doesn't have to be replicated. It's already being done at my place (and at countless others through the world): I treat and my neighbors don't. Their bees die, mine survive but mine are in a protracted struggle all summer long because they get re-infected by varroa, over and over. My neighbor doesn't use robbing screens and when their bees are crashing, mine oblige by "liberating" the stores and they bring home eight-legged souvenirs. (And I'm sure that my bees don't scruple over stealing the honey from their feral cousins either.)

    I don't think the fact that someone has gotten funding for this experiment amounts to proof of concept - it's just proof that if you try hard enough you can get funding for anything.

    How about an opposite thought experiment: the large queen producer referenced in the OP is imagining that if "everybody stopped treating" and allowed the bees to co-exist with mites to the point that they are nearly wiped out in the hope (hope, not certainty, at least in the time frame measured by human life spans) that some would evolve in some way so that they would become tolerant or the mites would be become significantly avirulent and the problem would be solved. Instead, let's pass a law that requires effective anti-mite treatment on all managed bees for an equal period of years, perhaps even makes the enormous effort to locate and treat unmanaged colonies. Would that result in the effective-enough extirpation of mites so that the problem in North America could be knocked out?

    Don't think so? Nor do I, for the same reasons that I think the idea of going totally TF would ultimately fail, as well.

    Beekeepers brought mites to the US, and beekeepers' agricultural and business practices spread them, at the speed of semi-tractor trailers over the Interstate highway system across the entire US in just a few years. Now we all have to cope with the problem. Including the now-feralized descendants of that other ubiquitous exotic insect, Apis mellifera. If our agricultural system was not now dependent on honey bees we could arrest the mites by euthanizing all of their hosts. But we can't, so we have to deal with it.

    A better experiment would be to find an isolated-enough, large-enough island, take many thousands of hives there and work them for everything except mites. This theoretically would allow the mites and bees to achieve some sort of evolutionary balance, or else all the bees, and shortly thereafter the mites themselves, would die. If any bees survived, they might only do so because the mites simultaneously evolved into a weakened strain, not because the bees had evolved to become some kind of genetically heritable, mite-resistant, super bees that could then be bred like mad and replace the "weak bees" we all have in our apiaries now. That's the huge problem I see with the so-called "Bond" experiments. Even if they appear to work, they may not do the trick in the long run, since the solution involves a parsitical relaltionship.

    The horror that some beekeepers have over the idea of treating for mites is misplaced. Bees are not native wild animals in the US, not even non-managed colonies of honey bees can be described as being truly wild, just ferals, in the same way as feral cats. We brought the bees here, and we brought the mites here. Both are exotic species. But we really need the bees in our agricultural system, so we must figure out an effective strategy for suppressing the mites to allow the bees to flourish in a way that meets our needs. Science, and I don't mean Big-Ag/Pharma just the scientific approach, will help us. Fuzzy-minded ideas about bee genetics and wishful thinking isn't going to get us there.

    I am not a troll in the sense of posting just to provoke and annoy. And I would be mite-treatment free in a heartbeat if that were possible with my bees, in my area, at this time. But it's not, so I treat my bees because in my opinion that's my responsibility to them, the feral bees in my area and all my neighbors' bees, even if their own keepers don't see it that way.

    Enj

  14. #14
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    Jul 2012
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    lafargeville ny usa
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    Thumbs Up Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    it only took native bees in china 10,000 years to adapt to varroa mites.. I am sure you can find politicians on your own wave length to pass a law making chemical free varroa resistance mandatory within say 2 years.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    While Dr Underwoods experiment is interesting I'm very surprised she got funding for it. Thousands of beekeepers have already experimented with treating / not treating, at their own expense.

    In addition the results can already be predicted. If she treats correctly and with skill, the hives with the mites removed will be under less pressure than the hives where they are not removed. The hives coming from packages are probably non mite resistant stock so will likely expire.

    Or if she does not treat correctly and with skill the results will be random.

    Glad she's doing it, don't think she should be getting money. I'm also wondering just how much money. If she is charging the full cost of all hives, plus all her time, and all expenses such a vehicle, this could be a heckuva expensive exercise.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    36 hives, really... Where does this magic 2 year number come from? Just askiing. If I went TF right now, I'd have no bees and I'm betting a lot of other people would be in the same boat. If I had to guess if this happened, I'd assume about 80% losses at least, how do you bounce back from that in 2 years on a national scale and end up with bees that fit commercial models? I can compare certain hives now, some treated organically vs commercial and it's a very night and day comparison when it comes to cluster size and 'commercial' value.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    it only took native bees in china 10,000 years to adapt to varroa mites.
    The best information is that varroa crossed over from Apis Cerana a bit over 100 years ago. Apis Mellifera was brought into the Primorski region between 1900 and 1930 in an attempt to improve honey production. Italian and Carniolan bees were the most commonly imported. Russian bees as we have them today are an amalgam of all the genetics that were imported into that region. Because they were exposed to varroa so long ago, the remaining bees adapted to varroa of necessity. Sans treatment, the genetic resistance is fairly stable. Weaknesses of the Russian bees include excessive swarming, somewhat bad temper, smaller overall average colony size at peak which significantly affects honey production, and a brood cycle that emphasizes spring buildup. Advantages include very good wintering on average, good mite tolerance, and good colony protection.

    If you are commenting about Apis Cerana, then I agree that exposure to Varroa Destructor and Varroa Jacobsonii is so far back in pre-history that it cannot be defined.
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  18. #18
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    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    Wow, the bottom line that unites us all is that we would like alive and productive bees in our boxes. I see both the need to commercially treat and prop up our food industry so to speak but also see the importance of the return to bee genetics that can sustain themselves as evolution has intended. Anything else Imo is a bandaid solution to a human culture imbalance. Both things can and do exist at the same time as we move forward with no need of hostility. My mention of the term trollers was intended towards people who read into threads they disagree with just for the cause of interjecting what often seems like negative feelings towards the whole approach and I take it back because I respect every person that was kind enough to read and have an opinion on this topic. I care about these insects very much and I realize and admit I am very inexperienced. I did not put the persons name on beesourse who told me his opinion because he is a farmer who makes his livelihood off of bees and I respect him and every beekeeper a great deal no matter what the form of beekeeping. Thank you for your interest.

  19. #19
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    Mar 2014
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    Jim Thorpe Pa
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    I would also like to mention that I am in no way affiliated with Dr. Underwood or her experiment and was just posting about in on bee source in the treatment free group about something that I saw in our beekeepers meeting that excited me personally. I may be mistaken on the exact layout of her experiment design and hope that no one reading misunderstood that. I in no way would like to take away from what I think is a worthwhile undertaking. I am not a scientist or a doctor. If I have somehow misrepresented myself as some authority or successful beekeeper I apologize to you that are. Like I said I just want bees alive in my boxes and don't believe in poisoning the well so to speak, I don't advocate for the ability to control how one decides to keep their bees alive.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Study in Northeast Pennsylvania

    GreenWay, you worry too much.

    Chill some, welcome to the club.

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