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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Bay Minette, AL. USA
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    225

    Lightbulb A true chemical free

    So I am going for a true chemical free hive. I have two five frame nucs
    to be picked up this month from Don at Dixie. I have been reading up on
    going chemical free. Letting the bees go foundationless and not feeding sugar
    water. What I have read is they will be smaller and better adapted to disease resistance.
    I was wondering who has gone totally chemical free and what suggestions u could
    give me. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,367

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    100% chemical free may be difficult (if you include feed in the chemical category).
    I am treatment free (starting year 3), the only thing I have used is sugar feed. Most of my hives would have not made it the first year without it. However my season will be much shorter than yours and if the weather doesn't cooperate it can be ugly getting hives to start. I do not see the point in starving bees if the cause is out of their control.

    With that caveat getting the bees a good start, selecting good genetics and some people believe small cell seems to be the basis for going treatment free. I personally have a mix of foundation and natural comb, and am moving into all natural comb and trying small cell in the center of the brood nest this year. So far I have only lost one hive, and that was due to a late summer queen failure. I should have combined the hive but tried to get them the raise their own queen. It did not work.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Wash Co., Ohio
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I haven't gone chemical free as much as I just dont use them (unless you consider powdered sugar a chemical. [Edit]) and I dont feed unless I have to. So far, pretty good results - excluding that first year. Just be careful on the foundationless. I do it, for the most part, but you MUST give them a guide as to where to draw the comb (popsicle stick or a 1" strip of cereal box works for me), and kind of monitor them in the begining to ensure they're drawing straight. It helps to stick the foundationless frames in between drawn frames, so they cant go sideways.
    And they will if you let them (hence the monitoring in the begining)
    Last edited by Solomon Parker; 04-05-2012 at 04:44 PM. Reason: Check the rules.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Bay Minette, AL. USA
    Posts
    225

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    Yes I am going to get the combs drawn out first on foundations and
    then start fading the foundation frames out. I don't want to run into
    not getting the news started. I have also read to do two foundationless frames
    in the center working out and then up. Should I just start with the
    five frames and put foundationless ones in first, or should I get them started
    on foundations and then phase them out? Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,367

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I would put the foundationless frames in the brood nest. FFBBFBBBFF. Or the like and than rotate the foundationless frames into the center as they draw out the first ones you put in.
    That is what I do when starting hive from nucs. Just make sure the guides you put in are well attached. I had some collapse (I did not glue them which will not happen again).
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I'm not only chemical free, but treatment-free (as the name of the forum would suggest) and beyond actually.

    My advice is to multiply as quickly as possible to get as many hives as possible so you limit your chances of losing all of them at one time. Forget honey, forget everything but building more hives. I'm testing out a couple methods right now as to how best to increase as rapidly as possible. I have 29 new queens in mating nucs right now. I recommend the Ben Harden Method of queen rearing and using queen castles to turn those new queens in to new nucs.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,083

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    We use powdered sugar only, in our area there is seldom a reason to feed the bees.
    Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,819

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I think you need to get down to small cell to really increase your bees ability to deal with mites. Going foundationless is a good way to get started in that direction, that's what I use. But according to the small cell experts, you need to get down close to 4.9 cells to make a real impact on mites, foundationless usually only gets you around 5.1 on the first try, so you need to regress them further by culling out the first generation comb in the brood nest and letting them redraw new comb which should be closer to 4.9 the second time, there is the possibility that it may take a third regression to get what you want. So, what do you do when you cull out the first generation combs, well what I would do is remove the combs as the brood hatches out and replace them with new foundationless frames. The combs you remove can be used for extracted honey storage instead of brood from now on. You might want to mark the tops of the frames so you know what generation comb you have in that particular frame, just to keep everything straight. Small cell is only important in the brood chamber, bees normally make larger cells in the honey storage area. Hope this helps. John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    If the OP's bees are coming from Don at Dixie Bee Supply, I believe they will already be "small cell" when he gets them.

    Brian

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Bay Minette, AL. USA
    Posts
    225

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    Thanks for the info. That does help. Another questions is I am going to have a deep brood box and all mediums above that. When I want them to draw out new comb in an empty box how exactly would you do it? After I get a few it should be easier but how should I start? I was thinking of going ahead and taking two medium frames and put them in the deep box after I have them drawn out, saving the two deeps to put in later and have them draw them out. Would this work? I am wondering about bee space the would be comprimised on the bottom or is that even a worry? Thanks. Dan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: A true chemical free

    That's right, Fatbeeman has all small cell I think, so you already will be regressed. Are you using just one deep for brood and mediums for honey? Are you going to use a queen excluder? I wouldn't put medium frames in a deep box just to get them drawn out, it could cause some comb problems with the shorter frames, I would just put on the mediums as they are and they will get drawn. John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Bay Minette, AL. USA
    Posts
    225

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    Yes I was going to use one deep for the brood box and go for all mediums from there. I was going to go without the queen excluder and let them go as natural as possible. Would it be ok to use one deep and a medium for the brood or should I go ahead and use two deeps and then go with the mediums?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Bay Minette, AL. USA
    Posts
    225

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I should mention I am using eight frame hives.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,716

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I'm not only chemical free, but treatment-free . . . and beyond actually.
    And what exactly is "beyond" treatment free?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    It means I do not utilize any methods which assist the bees in dealing with disease but which are not considered treatments by forum definition, for instance systematic splitting, varroa trapping with drone brood, or screened bottom boards.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: A true chemical free

    beecrazy101, I use all mediums for brood and honey, don't want to deal with lifting deeps anymore, they can get real heavy. Since you already have a deep I would add a medium for more brood space, alot of people do it that way. With the deep sitting on the bottom board there is hardly any reason that you will have to lift that one off. John

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    2,716

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I wasn't aware those things were not considered treatments by forum definition. Makes more sense now.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,033

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    There is a forum definition to avoid arguments, but I'm not sure how many people read it. It was created about a year ago as a group effort among the denizens of this forum.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,716

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    I was aware that it exists somewhere, but haven't read it myself.

    Although, I'm not sure creating a forum definition has quieted down the discussion on the topic. I am glad some type of definition exists though. My least favorite part about this site is bickering over definitions (what the definition of "treatment free" is, what the definition of "is" is).

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Bay Minette, AL. USA
    Posts
    225

    Default Re: A true chemical free

    Well back on topic. I am going to do the deep on bottom and then expand it all with mediums. That sounds good to me. So when I do go to the mediums I just put empty frames in there and let them draw? If they start going sideways what to do then? Is there a good website I can go to that has illustrations on how to dealing with that problem? I can read all day but I want to make sure I know exactly what and how to deal. Thanks. Dan

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