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  1. #1
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    Default Treat or not to treat

    Anyone ever have a high mite count and let it go and the hive was ok?
    I have two nice healthy hives that have a high mite count and theres bee on the ground around the hive that have signs of DWV and i don't know if i should treat them with APIGARD or see if the the bee's can live with them . I have 17 hives right now and i'm sure some will make through winter. Any comments would be great i'm at across road TREAT OR NOT TO TREAT my hives seem healthy but this is only year 3 for me as a bee keeper and the first year was a floop.
    We have a goldenrod flow about to kick in and the one hive with well over 50mites in 24hours has ahoney super one thats 2.3s filled and i don't want to treat with honey on the hive i'm not sure if i want t treat at all but i'd hate to had them die out . What would everyone do if you were me? Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    How about caging the queens for a while...
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    I was in the same dilemma not to long ago and chose to treat. Treating I believe saved my hives and I haven't had to treat since and they are doing very well. I did a 24 hour mite drop count yesterday on the hive that was infested the worst and had a mite drop of 7. I had many bees with deformed wings and I don't see any now.

    I'm sure you will get lot's of conflicting opinions on this topic but treating was the path I chose and I'm glad I did. Personally I used Hopguard because it seemed less harsh than some of the others and it worked great.

    for the record I only have 3 hives right now and in my 2nd year beekeeping.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    You're right in that your chance of losing all those hives is almost nil. That said, the only way to know if they can "live with them" is to let them try. It's all in how upset you'll be next year if you lose those hives. This is tough, but try to think to next year, and if you lose, say 7 hives, and have 10 remaining, will you be kicking yourself for not treating? Or will you be saying, "I made the better decision because I have stronger bees, even though I only have 10 hives."

    I treat w/MAQS. They have some drawbacks. But it's once and done and the honey can stay on.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    If you don't treat them, and if they survive and recover, you will have mite resistant bees.
    You also may very well not only have a dead hive, but a possible "Mite Bomb" when the mites migrate to a nearby hive if the hive dies.

    I'd suggest a soft treatment such as a sugar shake. Have a look at what Randy Oliver says about his surprise at the effectiveness of sugar as a treatment in the articles on varroa treatment:
    scientificbeekeeping.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    If you don't treat them, and if they survive and recover, you will have mite resistant bees.
    You also may very well not only have a dead hive, but a possible "Mite Bomb" when the mites migrate to a nearby hive if the hive dies.

    I'd suggest a soft treatment such as a sugar shake. Have a look at what Randy Oliver says about his surprise at the effectiveness of sugar as a treatment in the articles on varroa treatment:
    scientificbeekeeping.com
    WOW.

    I didn't expect such emotional responses to a suggestion to try soft treatments first.

    Granted, my response to one of the posters on this thread anthropomorphism of bees was a bit extreme; my intent was to prompt what I perceived as a somewhat condescending post addressing what I'm sure that poster considered a morally corrupt practice of not treating to consider that there might be moral considerations beyond the infested hive...ie, preventing larger scale hardship on the species because mite susceptible genetics remain in the gene pool.

    Mark:
    My reference to concerns about short term financial interest was in no way intended as denigrating. Failure to maintain short term solvency is a short step from bankruptcy.

    Segregating a portion one's hives and not treating in order to have hundreds and in the case of some outfits thousands or tens of thousands of hives adapted to survive without treatment is an expensive process and would take years to accomplish.

    Once accomplished, there would be far fewer males in the drone pool distributing genes that require treatment.


    "Short term financial interests? What is short term when outfits have been able to stay viable in business since 1986?"

    How much do you spend on treatments in a year?
    I suspect the amount is not insubstantial.
    The savings of not treating over one man's lifetime may or may not come out on the profit side of the ledger.

    But if we think generationally, it is cheaper to take the loss and convert to non treatment.

    We'd have bees that took care of mite on their own and aren't dependent for survival on us.

    On the other hand, I think guys like Kirk Webster will tell you you might expect 90% losses short term by not treating.

    Looking out for short term financial interests may be folly in the long run, costing a good deal over time, and leaving bees dependent on human treatment intervention, but it keeps the lights on, the wife happy and the kids tuition paid.

    The folly is in leaving the situation status quo, so that three generations from now our [collective] great grandkids are still worried about mites in their bees.

    Or managing one's bees based on emotion rather than wisdom. (I'll admit that my second post was couched in very emotional in an attempt to persuade a poster whom I perceived was motivated by emotion to treat to consider alternatives, both to his perspective and protocol, and was a bit extreme.)

    Personally, so long as my living expenses are not dependent on my hive count, I'll treat as little as I possibly can.
    But you can bet that if some other stressor compromises a hive's health and a line of bees whose genes I work to develop is in danger of perishing without treatment, I'll seriously consider doing so, weighing the whole cost (contaminated comb on one hand, for example, and loss of the work that went into them and income potential from them on the other).

    "How does the successful treatment use of a commercial beekeeper effect you?"

    Substantially.
    The decisions of a single commercial guy can have a greater effect on what genetics are or aren't present in the drone pool than MANY hobbyists with one to ten hives.

    don't think that commercial beeks are fools, or wicked, greedy, bad guys.

    When assert that it's folly to not treat because of short term financial interests, I'm talking about us as a whole community not coming up with a pragmatic, practical path to something more sustainable long term, spmething wise ofr our progeny, and getting off the tread mill of spending for treatments.

    I'm not intending at all to say a guy is foolish for protecting the business that provides for his family.

    Respectfully,
    B

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    I'm out of this conversation, again. There will be a much better world for all someday. John

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post

    "How does the successful treatment use of a commercial beekeeper effect you?"

    Substantially.
    The decisions of a single commercial guy can have a greater effect on what genetics are or aren't present in the drone pool than MANY hobbyists with one to ten hives.

    Respectfully,
    B
    Okay, how does it effect you personally? If we followed your suggestion, stop treating across the board, do you know how much the gene pool would be limited?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  9. #9
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    This is a classic topic on Beesource that naturally brings up the finger pointing.

    Glock, I can't be you. I can only be me and I don't treat. With one to three hives in my possession it isn't going to change the world of bees. Possibly if my little apiary builds some resistance to mites it may help the gene pool around me that will help some local people. If it doesn't my bees will just die. If you are a local person that treats my increased farm of mites will not affect you because you are already treating. I don't know enough about genetics but I don't see how a neighbor that treats affects me. As far as I know treating for a disease does not pass on a resistance or lack of to the offspring. I am more concerned about the treatment of food sources for the bees and myself over long periods of time. That is the stress I worry about. These chemicals or more permanent than what we were led to believe.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    If we treated ourselves like our bee's would we still be here. I would not, when I had a heart attach I went to the doctor, I don't understand why we do not let the doctor treat our bee's when they are ill? I treat mine , they are dependent on me just like a dog. I do not treat for the sake of treating but I do before risking a whole hive

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted adams View Post
    I treat mine , they are dependent on me just like a dog.
    Bees are not people.
    They are livestock.
    Whether you believe it is nature or God who did it, selection is the process established to ensure that species as a whole remain healthy, suffer the least from disease or parasites like mites, and continue to exist rather than become extinct.

    When one chooses to select for mite resistance by allowing a susceptible hive to succumb to mite pressure, the honeybees species is strengthened, there are fewer susceptible genes in the gene pool, and fewer colonies suffer.

    It prolongs the suffering of the the species due to mites and is inhumane to interfere in this selection process.

    The primary reasons people do so are emotional and financial - no beekeeper wants to lose the profit a hive will generate by letting it succumb, and he may not survive financially should he do so on a broad scale.
    Manufacturers and sellers of the insecticides we use in our hives for mite control also have a huge financial interest in preserving the treatment paradigm.

    Some look at bees as though they are people, and not recognizing that they are promoting the suffering to the species as a whole, and, as the writer above acknowledges, making them dependent on men for their welfare and unable to care for themselves as they have for eons, feel it is compassionate to put insecticides in our insect colonies.

    To do so to protect short term financial interests, or out of not understanding the damage it does to honeybee species as a whole, is folly.

    We owe the bees better than that.

    Respectfully,
    B

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Here's how I look at it. If you want to kill mites, kill mites. If you don't want to kill mites, then don't kill mites. The bees may or may not survive either way. As a genetics major, it's too early to tell with this pest what is the best course of action. You have to look at the end goal.... do we want mite tolerance, mite resistance, or immunity? Looking at it ecologically is not treating and harboring a population of pests smart?? People have the one sided notion.... the bees will adapt.... what if the mite adapts more?? Treating or not treating you're still putting selection pressure on the mite to overcome. I don't think there's a right and wrong decision. I mean, if i treat and get 100% kill and the guy next to me is treatment free and harboring mites.... whose the problem in this picture? At the same time, treating needs to be done correctly and you really should try products with differing MoA's so resistance isn't built.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    To do so to protect short term financial interests, or out of not understanding the damage it does to honeybee species as a whole, is folly.

    We owe the bees better than that.

    Respectfully,
    B
    If we had followed that model I doubt that you would have bees now. Unless they were Africanized bees.

    Short term financial interests? What is short term when outfits have been able to stay viable in business since 1986?

    How many colonies do you have? How long have you kept bees? I'd like to know so we have some reference to know where you may be coming from. Where did you get your bees from?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  14. #14
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    Bees are not people.
    They are livestock.
    Whether you believe it is nature or God who did it, selection is the process established to ensure that species as a whole remain healthy, suffer the least from disease or parasites like mites, and continue to exist rather than become extinct.

    When one chooses to select for mite resistance by allowing a susceptible hive to succumb to mite pressure, the honeybees species is strengthened, there are fewer susceptible genes in the gene pool, and fewer colonies suffer.

    It prolongs the suffering of the the species due to mites and is inhumane to interfere in this selection process.

    The primary reasons people do so are emotional and financial - no beekeeper wants to lose the profit a hive will generate by letting it succumb, and he may not survive financially should he do so on a broad scale.
    Manufacturers and sellers of the insecticides we use in our hives for mite control also have a huge financial interest in preserving the treatment paradigm.

    Some look at bees as though they are people, and not recognizing that they are promoting the suffering to the species as a whole, and, as the writer above acknowledges, making them dependent on men for their welfare and unable to care for themselves as they have for eons, feel it is compassionate to put insecticides in our insect colonies.

    To do so to protect short term financial interests, or out of not understanding the damage it does to honeybee species as a whole, is folly.

    We owe the bees better than that.

    Respectfully,
    B

    B,

    Great post! You have succinctly stated the position of the non-treatment group. I can certainly understand commercial beekeepers for treating their hives. However, in the long run is that the best course for the species? Commercial beekeepers are not evil they are only looking at the short term....keeping their current hives alive. I understand that but that is probably not the best thing long term. Sort of like politics, everyone wants the same thing, yet the rub is how to get there. That is what the argument is about.

    Tom

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    How about caging the queens for a while...
    This is how I treat for mites. Either that or just squish the queen and let them rear another. It is the break in the brood cycle that will help. I never use chemicals in the hive. I have done it twice and both times the hives have rebounded to be just fine.
    Experience is better than theory.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Let me also say this; I do not have a full time job doing this (yet; I am working towards it). I do believe that breaking the brood cycle is a treatment just not a chemical. I think it is important that we treat our bees; I just provide a product that has no chemicals or antibiotics and that is what my customers pay a higher price for.

    Do I lose honey production from doing this? Yes

    Do I lose bees from doing this? Not yet, but it has not been a real problem so far.

    The problem as I see it and I run into in a lot of discussions (both old and younger); is simply, the unwillingness to try something else. I would not suggest that a commercial operation stop treatment, which would be foolish. What I suggest is that instead of saying chemicals are the only cost effective treatment method; can we open our minds to a possibility of another way? In my case; I save time by just squishing a queen. I lose honey by doing so, but I also get a higher price for the end product. In my case; I am able to come out the same or a little ahead, in the end as if I would have treated.

    There is no blanket statement that can be done for all; however anyone who feels that the industry standard or status quo is the best option might need to rethink their own arrogance. I will never have the answers and will always listen to suggestions. The suggestions must be able to be proven; either with numbers that show the risks or with proof from experience, not just simply an opinion.

    I think both the hobbyist and the commercial beekeeper are important and as with other things (faith) people need to stop attacking and fighting. It is walking hand in hand with your brother (or sister) that will find you the most success.
    Experience is better than theory.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Well, just have to toss in my 2 cents.... In the year I spent researching bees before re-entering the craft, and in the years since, I've discovered a truth - if you bought or acquired treated bees, you have to treat or they will succumb to the mites. If you bought treatment free bees, don't treat. That is the route I've taken for about 7 years now. If you obtain a swarm, and put them in your treatment free apiary, probably even odds they'll survive treatment free. But I don't treat at all, and won't treat swarms. Want to maintain the integrity of my operation.

    The key is to do what you're comfortable with, but do it rationally, with your long term goals in mind. And just because someone does it differently than you, it doesn't mean they're wrong. Or right.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    To all people who got offended by my statement regarding commercial beekeeping.

    First, I apologize for generalization. I had no intention to hurt anybody personally. My statement was mainly not about beekeepers but about traditional beekeeping practice used in commercial beekeeping. The practice has been developed before Varroa mites. Thus it had no tools against Varroa. "Treatment" (chemical) was urgently introduced to mitigate the problem. The chemical treatment (any) normally stimulates the resistance to the treatment (Varroa resisted to the treatment). So, everybody who treat - actually is working hard to produce more resistant Varroa mites. It is just biology. It reminds to me the story with penicillin, when people unwisely used it and produced penicillin-resistant strains of bacteria. When penicillin did not work, another antibiotic was invented and soon we got resistant strain. Using this approach, we already developed the strains of bacteria, which are deadly - there is no treatment for them available now. Right now, people are dying from bacteria, which originally was sensitive to the ordinary penicillin, but not anymore. It seems to me, commercial approach is heading in the same direction demanding more and more "treatments" (chemical) and making more and more resistant mites!

    Another aspect of this is the bees. Any chemical treatment weaks the body and suppresses the natural resistance. Treatment technically is a poison. You are trying to establish the dose, which is deadly to mites and not for bees. But low dose of poison is still a poison and affects bees biology. So, one, actually do a weird selection - bees tolerate the poison and do not tolerate the mites. Is it sounds like reverse to what one wanted?

    This is why I feel skeptical about "traditional" commercial approach in Varroa time - it is just against biology. It was reasonably good before Varroa. It needs to be adjusted to new reality. Chemical treatment just creates the super-Varroa. Treatment must be a temporary solution - you could not keep human on antibiotics all the time. Russian says - there is nothing more permanent than temporary solution. It is exactly about Varroa - treatment was used as an emergency remedy at the beginning but becomes a standard now. I am against treatment to be a standard procedure. It must be an emergency remedy.

    Spreading super-monster-Varroa in feral bees population is extremely bad since if bees could mitigate a normal Varroa, it does not mean that they are prepared for super-Varroa.
    Sergey

    PS I am using the word "treatment" meaning a chemical treatment.
    Last edited by cerezha; 08-14-2012 at 03:37 PM. Reason: clarification

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    I have never lost a hive to mites in four years and never have treated with anything. I use plain old Italian bees, nothing special. I see several DWV bees on the ground daily when I look for them. I don't do mite counts. My bees winter fine and become boomers with 125lb. average the next season. My bees couldn't be doing much better in my area, so the mites are not an issue as far as I'm concerned. Obviously, nobody wants to watch their bees dwindle down and die off for any reason. I am committed to producing a treatment free product for my customers and they expect it, and it will stay that way even if mites become a problem in the future. I know for a fact that "certain" hives of bees will develop a resistance, tolerance, whatever you want to call it, to the mites if given the chance. I have bees that show hygenic behavior, I see it going on regularly in all my hives. They weren't always this way though, without my help they learned a way to handle the mites in order to keep the colony going, thats all I can say. You may have bees like mine, if losing everything isn't everything then why not give it a chance and find out. John

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Treat or not to treat

    Ok so i geuss i won't treat for my goal was to to biuld a better bee thats why i have 17 hives and at the beging of may i only had 3 i bought 3 nucs and the rest was swarms and what i made {splits} so now i have my stock and i can play. My goal now is to get all hives up to par for winter.
    I really non't care about honey sales and i've dumped a pile of cash in to this hobby that for sure but i love beekeeping and have nice bee yards .
    I've learned so much the last 3 years and as of now my bee's are strong and doing well we'll see how no treat go's.
    Plus i ordered APIGARD off BETTER BEE and the called a left a message saying the computer took a dump and they lost my c.card numbers and to call and they could get the order out so i took that as a sign that i should go the no treat rout and i do want strong bee's. I'll be glad i don't have to buy bee's again i sure did learn to make bee ya. Thank you.

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