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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Clark county, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    I had already decided to do this almost exactly as you put it down. You saved me the trouble of writeing up my plan as I can just print yours out. Yes I like to have solid plans and I know the bees will try to break me from that but, I know plans have to be adjusted so the bees and I can come to an understanding.
    I picked up my wood today and start making my woodenware this weekend. Can't wait for spring. Don't even have bees yet and I'm already hooked just from all the studying I've been doing over the last few months. My GF told me today that she hasn't seen me so excited about anything in years .

  2. #42
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    142

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    I too am planning to start beekeeping in the spring and I'll be starting out (mostly) as you suggest.

    I decided that I wanted to do this back in May of this year, and I've been reading and studying ever since. I'm planning to get bees in the spring of 2012 to begin my colonies. One place we differ is in number of hives. I'll be starting with two, not five. It seems that everywhere I look people suggest that a newbie not start with just one hive, so I made plans for two. Going with five is not entirely out of the questions, but my biggest concern would be where to put them. I've already gathered the woodenware I'll need for two eight-frame, medium hives, with four bodies each. At this point I still need to assemble and finish it, but I've got it all on hand. And I've found a supplier of small cell, treatment free bees (Wolf Creek in my case, although Dixie Bee is still around) and have made plans to buy two nucs from them in the spring. I'll get up and going early next year. I plan to take no honey and, if I can get one hive through the first winter, I'll declare victory. Both would be better, although losing both won't be catastrophic. I'll just buy more bees.

    I must admit that I could probably have made five nucs work as a starting configuration, if I had seen your plan earlier on. I'm not sure how I would have accommodated five full size hives, but it's likely not all would have survived the first winter. In any event, I'm far enough along at this point in my plans for two eight-frame hives that changing course would be difficult (read: expensive). So I'm going to try and make the best of it. I'm sure I'll be around with lots of questions in the spring. And, come spring of 2013, you may see me eating crow and buying a sheet of plywood.

    Brian

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    393

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Off Topic
    This drives me crazy also Omie

    He uses Mite away formic acid pads twice a year every year routinely, but when I remind him of this he merely flips it off, saying "formic acid is all organic!, it's not a chemical treatment!" Rather exasperating.
    Formic Acid is a chemical! It is an organic acid because it contains a -COOH or carboxyl group like acetic acid, lactic acid and all fatty acids as opposed to inorganic acids which contain an inorganic constituent (one without carbon). It has nothing to do with the current use of of the term organic to mean "natural".

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Good point. I work with the scientific term 'organic' all the time. Organic simply means molecules containing carbon. In that sense, formic acid is organic. IT IS NOT ORGANIC in the sense of natural, chemical free, or treatment-free. Education is the key. If we work to educate, our honey will sell for more. The taste and the pollen content in comparison to store-bought honey helps though.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,459

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Yes, Formic acid is an organic acid, just like water and sugar(sucrose) are chemicals. It impossible to be chemical free. We are all composed of chemicals. We are missing an adjective, like "synthetic" that will differentiate between chemicals that are used in concentrations found in nature, and chemicals that are manmade, or used in concentrations not found in nature. Formic acid is a good example. Yes, it is found in honey, but not in concentrations that are present when using it as a miticide.

    Sorry , I went off topic also.

    Crazy Roland

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,402

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    I have a friend that went bee less this season. He refuses to pay money for bees and has always relied on catching swarms. Well his hives died out last winter and he didn't get any swarms. Now mind you this guy has been doing this for a long time. He is one of the original beekeeper in our local club. You would describe him as a natural beekeeper because he doesn't intervene at all. I guess now you would call him a veteran bee haver. I myself don't know what the answer is for successful beekeeping but for newbies who are thinking natural I definitely would not start out with 20 hives unless you have the paycheck to gamble.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I myself don't know what the answer is for successful beekeeping but for newbies who are thinking natural I definitely would not start out with 20 hives unless you have the paycheck to gamble.
    Please re-read the plan. It calls for starting with 5 nucs and then expanding from there if the person can swing it. They could just as easily move in the direction of larger hives rather than more numerous nucs. The expansion is to build resistance and buffer the effect of losses.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,402

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    I understand the logic behind multiple hives but I also know that most ventures fail because of overextending. (shooting your wad at the beginning)

    I contend that it is better to start with one hive then never to start. If it fails your character will be tested to try again. If five nucs fail your character may not be that strong to try again. Both involve 100% loses but one is easier to take. Most importantly, both cases are realistic.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #49
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Cattaraugus,New York, USA
    Posts
    305

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Wow has this thread deviated a lot from where it started. Solomon, I applaud your effort for the article, I wish I had read it when I started. I basically did the same thing, but I used 8 frame mediums instead, basically the same size as a 5 frame deep, comb surface wise. I started with 3 packages and built to 8 hives before winter, by way of cut outs and swarms, never using a "synthetic chemical treatment" to control mites.

    That following spring I had 1 hive survive the winter, out of 8, an 87% loss. The survivor was a nasty tempered hive from a cut out. Some folks would pack it in right there, but I didnt, I took that hive that survived, split it, split it again, and again, raised queens from it, and came up to 10 hives and 2 nucs. The nucs were an expierement to see if they would survive the winters here. I requeened the nasty tempered hives, and squished the queens that had bad brood patterns, chalkbrood, or had daughters that were "HOT". This could be seen as a type of treatment I feel, so I guess I cant be "treatment free".

    I do "treat' for mites though, if you consider brood cycle breaks to be treatments. I do not use "synthetic chemical treatments" for varroa. I feed sugar syrup when needed, so I guess I cant say I am 100% treatment free, agian, as one could say that the syrup is a treatment for lack of stores.

    I dont think in this era that a person could be 100% treatment free, as anything someone does to a colony could be construed as a treatment by someone else. Heck even wrapping for winter and proping the inner cover could be construed as a treatment. Sometimes people are way to critical of others without thinking for a while before hand.

    Solomon, again great article, and I do hope you publish it somewhere, I like the insight that you have shown.
    Allegany Mtn. Bee Farm
    Quality Queens and Honey from Western New York

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Anthony, New Mexico USA
    Posts
    421

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Joseph,

    A few years back, Randy Oliver share lots of ideas with beekeepers in Santa Fe. He told the group, that somehow, varroa mites were present in the southwest, but were not overwhelming the hives. He said that regional bees or conditions in the southwest, were not allowing mites to be a big problem.

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,043

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    NY Blues: Just read the definition in the sticky at the top of the forum. After much debate by the "founding fathers" that is the "constitution" of the treatment free forum, love it or leave it.. I'm not sure if Sol wants to be considered George Washington or not but he has related a few experiences that could be considered his Valley Forge moments. The real question going forward is how many of the fledgling republics on here will survive? Stay tuned.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  12. #52
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Ha ha, Jim, thanks for that. But in the grand scheme of things, I'd say I'm more like FDR than a founding father. Dee Lusby is Jefferson, Michael Bush is Lincoln, I came along later and brought about an era of growth and change. Just kidding. Maybe Barry is Washington. I don't know.

    But actually, the definition was decided by all users of the forum, INCLUDING those who who have no intention of being treatment free ultimately. Fortunately, they were outvoted in the long run.

    And though I am a purist and don't feel like I should need to do things like maintain screened bottom boards or freeze drone brood, I'm comfortable with our current definition of treatments as substances and not 'anything we do in the hive.' Defining it as such only serves to water down the definition and allow affronts to the very idea of being treatment free. That's why we lost 'organic'. It's why there are chemicals, feeds, additives and pesticides which are 'legally allowed to be labeled as organic.' Treatment-free is different. It defines a thing by its philosophy rather than a list of items. We believe that bees should be able to take care of themselves without our intervention at all. We just intervene from time to time to manage them to get them to make more honey for us.

    But I digress.

    I've read a lot of good info in this thread, and I am very happy to hear stories of people who have tried out methods similar to the one I've come up with. And I'm not saying this was all my idea, I just think it would be easier for beginners to start with nucs and forget about honey production until they get some semblance of a sustainable apiary. I realize it may be difficult, but this is not general beekeeping, this is treatment-free beekeeping and it requires a bit more ability to absorb loss, and that requires a bit more ability to increase. It is my view that a second year beekeeper should be producing his or her own queens, if by no other method than by using swarm cells. We NEED self sufficient, self starting, self reliant, and self confident beekeepers. The standard 'have a couple of hives and requeen every year with commercially produced queens' method is one of the reasons beekeeping is in the state it's in today. Millions of viable queens have been simply killed for no other reason than it was just that time of year. It's a travesty. I'm young and I am to do my best to change that ideology a little before I die.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,402

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    LOL, the young are always in a hurry and the old who don't have much time left are not...

    Nucs require much more involvement and have critical timing issues that full size hives don't. If I encourage 5 more people to keep bees because I show how easy it is and you discourage 5 more people because you chose a more difficult course. Who is covering more ground? I don't see that one is less treatment free than another.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #54
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    If I encourage 5 more people to keep bees because I show how easy it is
    Because you have so much experience keeping bees treatment-free all these years?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #55
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Your plan is sounding better and better. We didn't harvest any honey this year and we planned our first splits and to start rearing our own queens next year (from surviving, strong stocks). I was going to use one of the guy's methods on here where he doesn't use cups for rearing but pieces of cut comb. I have it bookmarked but I'm really short on time this afternoon, I'll edit it in later tonight. Your two year plan for beginners is almost the exact plan we are on or have considered and assuming at least one hive makes it through the winter, we will follow it until we get up to a maximum of 50 hives. I suppose I should add that our bees are carnis used solely for the purpose of the pollination of (at max) 75 acres of water melon crops.

  16. #56
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,402

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Because you have so much experience keeping bees treatment-free all these years?
    What experience? How does someone starting out have experience?

    In your first post you asked for thoughts and ideas. I expressed my thoughts and ideas.
    Apparently you were just looking for praise. Sorry I didn't see it that way.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  17. #57
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
    Posts
    2,771

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Nucs require much more involvement and have critical timing issues that full size hives don't. .
    Doesn't the above quote imply experience??

  18. #58
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,618

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Nucs require much more involvement and have critical timing issues that full size hives don't. .
    Doesn't the above quote imply experience??
    =hpm08161947;726130]Doesn't the above quote imply experience??
    I dunno...some things can be learned from reading other people's writings and experiences. Everything doesn't have to be experienced to have knowledge of. I wasn't at the Battle of Gettysburg, I didn't experience it, but I know that was one of the bloodiest battles of the War Between the States. I've heard of people putting diesel gas into their gas burners and screwing their vehicle's engines up big time....I'm careful not to do that, not because I've done it before but because I've seen and heard of other peoples' experience doing it.

    If we can't use someone else's knowledge and experience do we need to burn all the books and pull the plug on this forum?

    Ed
    Last edited by Intheswamp; 11-13-2011 at 07:59 AM.

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    It's my position that you can learn all you need from books and the rest from doing. However, you do need experience in order to know what's "easy."

    I have experience in treatment-free beekeeping and you all know that I very regularly express my view that it isn't easy, especially if ease is defined as not having hives dying. So if I discourage new beekeepers who aren't looking at beekeeping as more than a passing interest, so be it. We don't need more fodder for those who say that starting treatment-free is impossible.

    I don't want to disparage anyone's experience or lack thereof but every once in a while, someone pops up who types of things for which they have no business typing. I think we can stop feeding the troll now.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #60
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,402

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I don't want to disparage anyone's experience or lack thereof but every once in a while, someone pops up who types of things for which they have no business typing.
    Solomon, that is called talking out of both sides of the mouth. I got your drift. You are looking for praise. I will learn from someone else.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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