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  1. #61
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    If someone, somewhere, could provide just such a 100% effective treatment/medication that could be proven to completely eradicate the pest/disease being targeted, such as has happened with small pox. I think I'd be much more interested in trying such treatments. But, I have never heard of such treatments, other than the burning or chemical sterilization of AFB infected beekeeping equipment.

    I have heard that despite a long history of treatment and burning, AFB is still around. I've also read that AFB is caused by Paenibacillus larvae ssp. larvae, and that there are now many strains that are resistant to many of the 'treatments' for this disease of honey bees. Also, that this same bacteria is often present in hives, bees, and brood, without them ever showing any symptoms of AFB. To me, this would make it prudent to develop honey bees that were resistant/immune to the bacteria that causes AFB, rather than to keep using treatments/medications that are not effective at eradicating the causative organism.

    In this thread it has been suggested that both treatment-free beekeeping or treatment beekeeping have the effect to enhance the transfer of these pests/diseases to other organisms, especially other species of pollinating insects. I believe that the only way to be certain honey bees do not transfer their pests to other pollinators is to eliminate honey bees from the equation, though even this option would be highly problematic.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 10-11-2012 at 10:12 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #62
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by Beelosopher View Post
    So the "no treating" perspective would be that you are breeding a super mite. Only the strongest mites will survive your treatments and eventually will be able to withstand your treatments. Now you are sending out a super mite to influence the other pollinators.
    Based on my experience in dealing with thousands of hives yearly since varroa first showed up here around 1990??? is that as an industry we are far better off now than when our initial exposure to varroa devastated most operations. If the "super mite" was the threat that many claim then present day beekeeping after 20 to 25 years of constant treatment for mites would be in dire straits. Such, however, is not the case at all. By almost any yardstick the industry has adapted very well. Personally I have seen a steady lowering of mite problems in recent years and its my theory that better bred bees are increasing at a faster rate than any potential super mites. Am I alone in this assessment? Is there anyone out there who has kept bees continuously throughout the varroa era that would dispute this?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #63
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    If you are curious, you should email Jim.
    Deknow
    Did. We'll see if he gets back to me before we loose this Thread.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  4. #64
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    I s not being discounted however your first reference in context could easily be taken to mean that varroa were in the US in 1981.
    ....the same was true of how it was presented by Jim Tew.

  5. #65
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Am I alone in this assessment? Is there anyone out there who has kept bees continuously throughout the varroa era that would dispute this?
    I think your observations are accurate. But, in my personal case I will need a few more years to feel like the corner has been turned. I know commercial beekeepers who experienced diebacks as low as pre-varroa days winterlosses used to be. And my losses last year were lower than in the last 6 years or so, since "CCD", but I am not sure how much that was the bees, the mite treatments, the weather, or the manager/management. I have had 40 colonies fail since bringing almost 500 colonies back North from SC this past Spring. 8% Summer Dieback since April 28th?

    From what I have heard from other beekeepers their numbers are up and their losses are fewer. Varroa treatment materials are becoming softer. Small steps perhaps, but forward steps.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  6. #66
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    ....the same was true of how it was presented by Jim Tew.
    And we have had AHB in the US before they arrived here by outward migration too. But, I don't think that means they had any impact.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  7. #67
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    From what I have heard from other beekeepers their numbers are up and their losses are fewer. Varroa treatment materials are becoming softer. Small steps perhaps, but forward steps.
    ...and that is the point I am trying to make, that the trend is up and not down. I am not trying to minimize the challenges we face today only pointing out how much worse they used to be. People can talk theory all they want but the fact is the industry has been in an ongoing real life experiment for almost a quarter of a century and despite all the warnings, as near as I can tell we are still waiting for the mythical super mite to appear.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #68
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    ....and those that treat are specifically maintaing stock, producing queens or drones, from constantly diseased stock.....if they were not diseased, treatment would not be necessary.
    Am I to understand that untreated sick bees that die in a year are more harmful than treated sick bees that are propped up year after year? That the untreated hive will negatively affect more hives in the area via robbing in one year than the treated hive will in 3?
    if the claim is that untreated bees are sick and treated bees are healthy, how do you reconcile untreated hives that survive and treated bees that are sure to perish without treatment?

    Deknow


    if that was to me, then:

    >....and those that treat are specifically maintaing stock, producing queens or drones, from constantly diseased stock.....if they were not diseased, treatment would not be necessary.

    i don't think i would claim that those who treat would have constantly diseased stock.

    >Am I to understand that untreated sick bees that die in a year are more harmful than treated sick bees that are propped up year after year? That the untreated hive will negatively affect more hives in the area via robbing in one year than the treated hive will in 3?

    my opinion is that treated or not, a sick hive that collapses and is robbed out is a threat to neighboring colonies.

    >if the claim is that untreated bees are sick and treated bees are healthy, how do you reconcile untreated hives that survive and treated bees that are sure to perish without treatment?

    i wouldn't make that claim either, my opinion is that both treated and untreated colonies can become sick and perish.

    as suggested by you and others, it comes down to being responsible. it is my opinion that the 'live and let die' approach is irresponsible, unless one's bee's are contained in a biosphere.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #69
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    as near as I can tell we are still waiting for the mythical super mite to appear.
    Jim,
    If the super mite is to appear (let's hope not), i would think that this would take some time, since it is a complex multi-cellular organism. Whereas, a single celled bacteria can evolve much more rapidly and become treatment resistant.

    After being involved in this tread, I still believe good and purposeful hive managment, with purposeful intent, should be the rule of the day.

    Thanks to all for thought provoking discussion.
    Greg Barnett
    7a

  10. #70
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    ....there were at least 3 varroa under the tergits.... the slide was from 1981.

    deknow
    Where was the slide taken? Not North America

  11. #71
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    ....and those that treat are specifically maintaing stock, producing queens or drones, from constantly diseased stock.....if they were not diseased, treatment would not be necessary.


    if the claim is that untreated bees are sick and treated bees are healthy, how do you reconcile untreated hives that survive and treated bees that are sure to perish without treatment?

    Deknow
    In these cases, are you refering to TM and Tylosin when you refer to treatments? Most beekeepers that I am aware of who use TM or Tylosin do so as a preeventitive medication. A propholactic application of an antibiotic for the prevention of AFB. The use of TM or Tylosin does not imply the colonies being medicated are themselves sick. Anymore than someone who gets a flu shot is sick.

    Also, do you consider varroa infestated colonies sick? Whereas a percentage of varroa infested colonies may most likely perish, if treated or untreated, it is in my opiniuon a stretrch to say that "treated bees that are sure to perish without treatment". Certainly many of them will, which is true of untreated hives in general.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  12. #72
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    [QUOTE=jim lyon;857391]Based on my experience in dealing with thousands of hives yearly since varroa first showed up here around 1990??? is that as an industry we are far better off now than when our initial exposure to varroa devastated most operations. If the "super mite" was the threat that many claim then present day beekeeping after 20 to 25 years of constant treatment for mites would be in dire straits.[\QUOTE]

    However, in this particular system, V. destructor is of clonal origin in Europe with low genetic variation (Solignac et al. 2005). In addition, the honey bee has 10 times higher genetic recombination levels than any higher order eu-karyote analyzed thus far (Beye et al. 2006). These aspects may have provided the honey bee with an evolutionary advantage in the arms race with V. destructor, an arms race that possibly is in the hosts favor, with mite adaptations limited. A counter-adaptation could be expected according to co-evolution theory (Thompson 1994; Schmid-Hempel 2010) but with the lack of genetic diversity among mites this may take a long time. On the other hand, the adapted resistance in these two honey bee populations has evolved incredible fast by natural selection.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402190/

    This pretty much says that the bee will overcome the mite and agrees with what is being observed.

  13. #73
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    A couple of observations, if I may.
    First, there is a difference between a diseased hive, and a hive infested with varroa. Disease and pests are not the same thing. Treatments for each is different.

    Second, the varroa mite can be a vector for disease, i.e. dwv, Israeli xxxx(forget the specific name of the virus), and possibly others.

    Third, proponents of treatment admit they do not eliminate ALL the mites in their colonies, they just get the mite load down to a survivable level for the honeybees.

    Fourth, both treated and untreated hives, based on the previous three propositions, CAN BE vectors for disease in a person's apiary and to others, via robbing, absconding, swarming, etc.

    Now, how many of us had a smallpox vaccination when we were younger? The vaccination gives a small dose of the disease, the body's response builds resistance. If we accept the concept that the honey bee is a super organism, then could not a developed resistance, a survivability to varroa, function in much the same way as a smallpox or other vaccination in a human? The pathogen, pest, disease is still present, maybe in the body (hive, colony) maybe in the environment. But now the colony can survive.

    Regarding treatment free and swarming, I can't speak for other treatment free beekeepers, but I lose swarms all the time. I try to practice the traditional methods of swarm control, but not always to great success. Of my 6 hives in the back yard, I've caught 4 swarms in the last couple of years, and those are only the ones I saw. At the height of the honey flow, my hives can have 3-6 extracting supers on them. They are as productive as the hives I had back in the '70's.

    And to answer a previously asked question, YES!!! I wish beekeeping was as easy now as it was back then. Plus, Midnight or Starline queens were only $2.50...but then again, I could only sell a pound of honey, labelled and bottled, for a dollar. sooooo......
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  14. #74
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    The adequate application of antivarroa mite treatment, at the right time and frequency, can do more than reduce/knock down the number of varroa in a colony, by knocking down those mite counts one also reduces the potential impact of nosema a. and c., and the viruses which varroa can vector.

    If one does what one can do effectively one will reduce the impact of those things one can not do much about. such as viruses.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  15. #75
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    True, Mark. And that makes me wonder... are we not all in fact after the very same thing? Reducing the impact of varroa and related issues in what we hope is the best manner possible? Therefore we are simply arguing/discussing the "best" way to accomplish that.

    In the discussion, (and there is now another thread dealing with Hop Guard, but since I don't treat, I haven't read) we've seen that the application of chemicals can have unintended side consequences. Sometimes negatively impacting the honeybee itself. Queen issues, brood mortality, etc. What I like about treatment free, and the main reason (besides the cost in $$ and time) I decided to go treatment free is that I thus avoid those side issues and problems. In addition, by not preventing swarming 100%, I am helping repopulate the feral population with bees that do not need nor will they ever get treatments.

    As I indicated in an earlier post, I had one hive with a large dwv infection (?), but after a few weeks it disappeared. Occasionally, rarely, I see dwv in my hives...and I look for it.

    Rightly or wrongly, I have come to the conclusion after 6 years down this path, that my treatment free bees are demonstrably able to handle varroa and the various varroa related issues that confront us. Plus, and best of all, I got my best crop yet this year!

    I'm not telling someone not to treat, I'm just pointing out that there is more than one way to "skin the cat" as they say. And I don't think treatment free beekeepers and bees are the bane for the rest of the populations some folks make us out to be. If someone would do or could do a bonafide scientific study, I'll wager treated bees are a more harmful vector for pests and disease in general, than are treatment free bees. (I don't say "untreated" bees, because generally untreated bees that are not truly treatment free or survivor bees succumb to varroa).
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  16. #76
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenG View Post

    Rightly or wrongly, I have come to the conclusion after 6 years down this path, that my treatment free bees are demonstrably able to handle varroa and the various varroa related issues that confront us. Plus, and best of all, I got my best crop yet this year!

    Regards,
    Steven
    That's good for you. Keep doing what you find that works for you. The only real way you will know how well able your bees handle varroa is to expose them to varroa. Not that I would want to do that if I didn't have to.

    It seems as though you have something which works for you, keep doing it. What I do keeps my operation alive and this years crop is better than last years by 15 lbs., so I too will keep doing what I am doing. I don't feel ill towards those who don't treat or medicate. It's a choice we all have to make and have the right to make.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  17. #77
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    First of all, the Locke paper cited above has co-evolution between varroa and Honeybees as a working hypothesis, but they're still looking for conclusive evidence. So, we can't take that for granted.

    I think that the risks involved in treatment free beekeeping, or Bond bees, are most certainly there in the initial 'live and let die' survivor selection process.

    You risk losing whatever you invested into a number of hives.

    I also think that there's the 'nuisance' issue, where beekeeping neighbors see treatment-free bees as a cause for concern.

    Finally, I've raised the environmental concern for native pollinators, particularly during the initial 'Bond' phase of treatment-free beekeepng.

    I think that there's a real difference between between a beekeeper who demonstrates 'due dilligence', but still loses hives, impacts neighboring hives, and native pollinators, unintentionally;
    and treatment-free beekeepers who cause similar (if not greater) problems, but do so due to negligence, or through their own beliefs, becoming local 'scofflaws' by ignoring best practices.

    Quite frankly, I thought that the 'RNA virus in Hymenopteran Pollinator's paper did a very good job of showing how Honeybees can transfer viruses to other pollinators via contaminated pollen.

    If you're impacting native pollinators, with pests and pathogens carried by an exotic livestock species (Honeybees), because you don't treat by choice or by negligence, then you don't have a leg to stand on when you claim to be 'environmentally responsible'.

    That's the real risk here. You can't justify treatment-free beekeeping as environmentally superior to beekeepers using standard practices.

    What's really crazy here is that I'm hearing treatment-free beekeepers sounding like the Monsantos of the world, deflect, delay, deny.

    They're taking some real risks here, but they won't own up to them.

    By the way, I do have the proper educational/research status to keep untreated hives. However, I am willing to say that there is a risk to pollinators involved, even though I'm in Mid-Manhattan.

  18. #78
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    By the way, I do have the proper educational/research status to keep untreated hives. However, I am willing to say that there is a risk to pollinators involved, even though I'm in Mid-Manhattan.
    I'm having trouble following your argument but I'm a beginner so I may not have all my facts in order.

    You're saying that if you don't treat you'll have more disease carrying bees capable of passing it on to other honey bees and natural pollinators. Treating bees doesn't erradicate mites/disease it just brings it down to a level that the colony can survive. Mites/viruses will reproduce pretty quickly, so as long as a few reach the natural polinators or neighboring hives the deed is done. Transmission doesn't depend so much on your colonies having a lot of mites, just on having mites at all. Reducing mites/viruses in your bees might slightly delay transmission but as the near universal widespread of varroa teaches us it won't really stop them. So the natural pollinators will be getting the diseases anyway and there's no one to treat them, their only option is to gain resistance or die.

    I can't really see a scenario where treating your own hives helps other hives or natural pollinators in any meaningful way. The discussion if it helps or hinders your own bees is of course a totally separate one.

  19. #79
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    "... inspector in Wisconsin found varroa mites (Varroa jacobsonii) ... to moving the bees back to Florida. .... The widespread movement of colonies for pollination and honey production was obviously responsible for the rapid spread of varroa mites."
    Exactly! From Wisconsin to Florida! But, it does not explain how Varroa get into remote, isolated areas Mark and Michael Palmer pointed out. Only one explanation I could see is that Varroa was "transported" by wild/feral species... Anybody knows about this part of bee-history? Also, bee swarms has been found inside the trucks and even airplanes - it potentially could helps spreading infected feral bees. If I remember correctly, it took approximately 5 (correct me if wrong) years for AHB to travel on their own "legs"(winds) from Brazil all way to California, Texas etc. Perhaps, we just underestimate the ability for wild/feral bees to travel and potentially spread diseases.

    I told this beautiful story about Russian bees in some other post. Briefly - when Varroa arrived in remote village in the middle of Russia (thus, "Middle-Russia bees), most bees were wiped out in one season. Villagers clean-up and disinfect their beehives and put them (empty) in their gardens. Apparently, one swarm, who took place in abandoned church cupolas survived. Withing few years, those bees established new colonies in villagers beehives and now widely popular as a "Russian bees" resistant to Varroa... Those survivor bees were also called "holy-bees" since they were originated from the feral hive in church's cupola.
    Last edited by cerezha; 10-11-2012 at 05:26 PM. Reason: holy not holey
    Серёжа, Sergey

  20. #80
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    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    >I can't really see a scenario where treating your own hives helps other hives.....

    pedro, the scenario that helps other hives, managed and feral, is the one where the beekeeper does what is necessary, be it good management, 'natural' treatments, synthetic treatments, or otherwise, to not allow their colony to collapse to the point of not being able to defend itself, and succumbing to robbing by other bees, which then carry pests and diseases back home with them.

    i have only dealt with american foulbrood myself. that was a no brainer. the hive was destroyed.

    i have not had to deal with collapse from varroasis. if it shows up, i would consider removing such a hive to a safe location, busting it down to a single box, reducing the entrance, installing a robber screen, killing the queen, using a soft treatment to rid of the mites, requeen from resistant stock, and try again.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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