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  1. #161
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Mr. Bush wrote:

    There were not survivors to breed from when I went to small cell with commercial stock. There were no losses to Varroa after I regressed even with commercial stock. The model that small cell beekeepers are breeding from survivors, and, in this scenario, breeding from smaller bees just isn't consistent with my experience. It's a nice theory if you assume small cell beekeepers all have big losses and that genetics is the key. But many of us did not have significant losses and were using commercial stock.

    I agree with your conclusions, my hypothesis does not fit your observations. the real test would be to now go back to regular sized cells with a few hives, and see how they compare to your small cell hives. If the genetics are comparable in both groups, you will prove me wrong if the large cell hives fail.

    Crazy Roland

  2. #162
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    I'm satisfied that Dennis Murrel's experiment doing just that is sufficient for me. I want to continue forward. I don't have time to go back over the same ground and nothing to gain. Natural comb is less work for me than large cell foundation. Small cell is no effort at all with PF120s and PF100s. I have no reason to undo what it took me a couple of years to do. If no one will take Dennis Murrel's word for it, why would they take mine?
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #163
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. USA

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    I very much agree!!! There is much to learn before you can go completely treatment free....I am in my 10th yr and it took me 7 yrs to get where I am now. Lost a lot of hives getting here and am now close to 90% to 95% survival for 3 years in a row. Use and replace from your own resources and you will succeed.

  4. #164
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Washington County, Maine

    Default Re: Starting out in treatment-free beekeeping

    Attempting to bring this discussion back to the OP (though some of the digressions have been interesting and informative) I've previously posted that I started keeping bees with a friend - we each had our own hive. While we did it that way because we didn't have the courage to get started on our own, we inadvertently did well. The ability to compare hives, share labor and other resources (my friend had a huge bag of pine needles while I had none) gave us a serious leg up. And two people doing research and sharing results with each other was great. Sure there was some "blind leading the blind" but we were involved with two local clubs which helped keep our rookie mistakes to a minimum.

    Another thought: Attempting to define a universal way of starting with bees seems ambitious if only because regional differences in conditions make a one size fits all methodology unlikely to be successful everywhere.

    And the final chapters to the "raising bees in nucs" strategy have yet to be written. Mike Palmer is doing great stuff with them, and I appreciate and use some of his evolving techniques. Mike posts here and can speak for himself - but put the emphasis on evolving - he tests his system and works to improve it - And then people like me take his ideas, tweak them a bit, and see what happens.

    The premise of your first two points are right on! Though if I could change anything, I might make the year not a calendar year but a beekeeping year. I think it reasonable for someone who decides to keep bees in January to have done the research, gathered equipment, and assembled a support system to be putting bees in a box come spring.

    Thank you Sol for starting this thread!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE)


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