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  1. #1
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    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    I've been perusing BeeWeaver's site from time to time over the last couple days.
    They claim not to have needed treatments for ten years now and I see no mention of small cell.
    Far be it from me to approach the topic of small cell beekeeping with such orthodoxy that it would not be accepted in this forum. Small cell has certainly gotten its fair share of discussion lately.
    At the same time, there have been a number of passing mentions of treatment-free beekeeping on conventional foundation. I know it can be done, one of my pastors at church has seven hives treatment-free on regular foundation last I heard. On the other hand, most if not all the cases I've heard of where conventional hives have gone cold turkey, there has been huge death.

    So I don't want to reject this is a topic for discussion seeing all the small cell conversations. Who does this? Assuming BeeWeaver does it, there's our example for a commercial operation. And boy are they real proud of their stuff.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    In my experience the people who are doing treatment free on large cell are still having a lot of Varroa issues. Some seem to be splitting enough to overcome those losses, but they still seem obsessed by Varroa. I haven't worried about Varroa for many years now. I'm not saying they aren't succeeding. And their stock must be really well adapted to survive the levels they seem to have.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Oct 2010
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    Baker Oregon
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    In my experience the people who are doing treatment free on large cell are still having a lot of Varroa issues.
    What is your take on foundationless as far as Varroa?
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  4. #4
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    Jackson, MO
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    I have a number of "treatment-free" hives. I use that term loosely as, in my personal opinion, many intentional, managerial manipulations are, in fact, treatments. But that's an argument for another day and I'm in the minority with this opinion so I don't want to make an issue of it. Suffice it to say, I don't treat specifically for Varroa in these treatment-free hives and random sticky board counts do not seem to warrant the need.

    I don't use small cell foundation. In these hives, I use a fair amount of foundationless frames ("natural"-sized cells) and keep a lot of feral stock raising queens out of the survivors. My losses run between 15% to 25% in both treatment-free and treated hives (mostly with formic acid and nothing else).

    One may make the case that my "natural" sized cells are "small." I've never measured and don't really feel the need.

    I don't doubt the benefits of small cell, but I'm not sure if it's necessarily a key component to successful treatment-free beekeeping.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  5. #5
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,827

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    >What is your take on foundationless as far as Varroa?

    I see the same results for, I believe, the same reasons. The cell size is smaller.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Beeweavers bees do perform well at varroa resistance, and in fact I've read where they have been introduced to hives with varroa issues, then after a time the hive clears up.

    It's not stated on their web site far as I know but their queens include primorsky genetics. Hence you'll often hear people say they are "hot", and tend to swarm.

    I have no idea if they use small cell, but I doubt it. Wouldn't that be a conundrum! The only successful commercial treatment free operation, does NOT use small cell.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,209

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    This is not a conundrum at all, just a sign that the bees have natural tolerance mechanisms. As for weavers being a successful commercial treatment free operation, I have to point out that they are not migratory. My defining point of high tolerance is for a colony to be able to survive repeated moves say 3 to 5 times in a year. Exposure to other migratory operations that treat seems to be a deciding factor in survival for mite tolerant lines.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,385

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Not only are they non migratory, but they are also bee producers, not honey producers.
    Regards, Barry

  9. #9
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Yes, but the point is, it's a successful treatment free business model. Just not migratory, not honey, but still a treatment free business turning a liveable profit, from the actual business.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    BeeWeavers just recently stopped being migratory. Laura has explained that it was too hard on thier young family.
    Danny had/has an operation up in Montana. Beartooth Apiaries. I assume they were up there to collect honey.
    Their bees already had the buckfast ,tracial mite resistance. Then added what Binford has called the "Harbos"(early
    SMR/VSH) genetics. Reduced, then stopped treating, kept and bred from the survivors. viola! Beeweaver Breed
    treatment free bees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,385

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    This would be news, worthy of an article in one or both of the journals, if in fact they have been treatment free for years being migratory and producing honey. Surely there's more to the story? With commercial beekeepers having to replace queens on average twice a year, why wouldn't everyone be buying their treatment free bees?
    Last edited by Barry; 12-14-2011 at 06:17 AM.
    Regards, Barry

  12. #12
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    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
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    510

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    They sell out every year, early. I found this out last winter when I was looking to get mine. They can't make them
    fast enough. Then you have the Texas Africanized fear factor.

  13. #13
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    There IS a lot more to that story.

    What's this about commercial beekeepers having to replace their queens an average of 3 times per year? The ones I know do it maybe once every two years, so to get the average up to 3 times a year, some of them must be requeening maybe, 7, 8 times a year. Wonder where they find the time?
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 12-14-2011 at 04:53 AM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
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    260

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    I tried out 4 packages from Beeweaver this last year. They are definately "hot", but I wouldn't say unmanageable by any means. It was a pretty big wakeup from the docile Italiens I was used to previous years where I often did simple manipulations in shorts and T-shirt. Once they got a little size to them I wouldn't crack the lid on a sunny day without my suit on. I did that a few times (I'm a slow learner) till I got stung in the eyebrow. They are also expensive, I paid the same for my packages as I did for singles for this coming season. (The other bummer would be that my wife used to come out to help me, but not nearly as often now, she really doesn't like bees bouncing off her veil for some reason)

    It was also my first try with packages (used nucs before, or free bees that moved in on their own) and the worst spring I've kept bees in (not saying a whole lot since I don't remember much from when I was a kid helping my dad), nothing but cold and rain so the girls had a very rough start. Then we went straight to hot. All that being said I have seen no sign of mite problems, but have had any number of other problems, none I blame on the breed though.

    I had one abscond in the heat just as they were getting going (water less than 50yds away and they were still being fed at that point) and a new one for me I had one hive break camp and invade their next door neighbor. Balled the other queen killed her and dead bees everywhere. Let me tell you that was an interesting call from my wife. Anyway that hive probably won't make it through the winter, it never built up enough and the other hive didn't take off in time to help out. My last hive filled a deep and two mediums though and should be sitting pretty for winter. There was a good goldenrod flow late at my house they went nuts on and packed in some pounds of dirty socks

    First time I noticed, but is it just me or is goldenrod wax a different color? I'm used to new wax being white, but during goldenrod it was bright vibrant yellow. I thought it might be reworked wax, but it was nothing like the colors of wax in the rest of the hive. It was almost luminous.

  15. #15
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    Dec 1999
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    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    9,385

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    What's this about commercial beekeepers having to replace their queens an average of 3 times per year?
    Sorry, twice a year.

    New Standard
    The Gold Standard for re-queening used to be once a year. Now, it’s twice a year.
    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...august-1-2011/

    "And, like many of you, Dave Mendes has found it necessary to re-queen twice a year."
    http://www.beesource.com/point-of-vi...march-15-2011/
    Regards, Barry

  16. #16
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Oh I see. So commercial beekeepers do NOT requeen an average of 3 times per year.

    And as to twice a year, well, one guys name got mentioned who actually did that last season. Just for peoples info, my own hives get requeened every second, or occasionally third year. If they supersede, that's fine, no requeening needed till the supersedure gets past her best.

    I've been wondering why I have so many arguments in the treatment free forum, when in fact, I have treatment free hives, 2 and expanding small cell hives which seems to be the rage in this forum, and am trying to advance my treatment free beekeeping.

    I think it's because I've seen both sides of the fence, and some of the stuff I hear here, for example, about commercial beekeepers, is well, exaggerated, at best. An honest approach is better. Not talking about you Barry because it's normally others, but I feel we could do better just by facing reality. There's a number of problems with small cell beekeeping or treatment free beekeeping in general, that need solving. To solve a problem it has to be first acknowledged. But around here there's no problems, nobody's hive EVER dies of mites.

    This is not the kind of approach I or commercial beekeepers use, if they don't confront and deal with problems they won't be commercial much longer.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 12-14-2011 at 05:58 AM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
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    Dec 1999
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    And as to twice a year, well, one guys name got mentioned who actually does that.
    If Joe Traynor says "like many of you", I'll take his word to mean "many" as he is directly involved with a lot of commercial beekeepers here in this country.
    Regards, Barry

  18. #18
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    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    1,858

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Ogborn View Post
    They can't make them
    fast enough. Then you have the Texas Africanized fear factor.
    Now that's an interesting comment. As we debate the small cell factor in treatment-free beekeeping, is there now an africanized component to the mix that is being over looked?

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  19. #19
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    Jackson, MO
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >What is your take on foundationless as far as Varroa?

    I see the same results for, I believe, the same reasons. The cell size is smaller.
    I would tend to agree, MIchael, but as I "eye-ball" these foundationless frames of "natural"-sized cells, there is a great inconsistency with the cell size, especially with the drone cells mixed into the outer areas of the brood frames. One of these days I'm going to have to get off my lazy butt and measure. I like the comment that there is likely a natural component to this varroa resistance that is not strictly small cell...which is not to argue against small cell. Like so much of this human intervention, even regressing our bees back to smaller physiques, there's more here than we realize...and more that they can teach us.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Beekeeping without Small Cell

    Barry I don't know what he means by "many". Let's say it's half. Of the particular group he is talking to. What about the others? Try a poll of commercial beeks here on beesource. Your origional 3 times a year average will be well out. But I hear this type of thing in the treatment free forum so much, that some people probably think it's true. Then I say something and get shouted down by a bunch of people who "know" I'm wrong.

    Grant, weavers themselves have admitted to some african contamination but have taken steps and believe the risk is minimal. They make the offer that if someone gets a queen that is just too hot, they'll replace it. But most of the hotness comes from the primorsky genetics rather than african. However, the hive swarming into, and taking over, another hive, is an interesting one, that's an african behaviour.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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