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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,076

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    In terms of losses, yes, if you do as well as the norm for the area. But losses are just one side of the coin, production / profit is the other.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,085

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Just saw a Post on Facebook which read "Other cultures are not failed attempt of being you." Pretty much sums up my pov about treatment free beekeeping.
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    648

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    My honey production was higher than our local average by about 20 lbs and my Sept. sugar roll mite counts were all below 3 %.

    Going into winter with 41 tf hives, all but 3 or 4 look strong. But Aprils a long way away.

    Don

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,607

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Success will be define differently for every beekeeper. For me, success is having more hives live year to year than die. I don't measure honey production in the equation because I'm not really interested in all the work involved in processing the honey. I don't rely on beekeeping for any of my income, so my goals are quite different than the next guy.
    Regards, Barry

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,960

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    If one imports stock to test, to what extent is the test validated (or invalidated) if nucs are made out of them and queens are raised from them and open mated? Is the dilution of the imported stock important? Or is having bees that are alive the real trump card?

    In an ideal world (one where I don't live but would like to visit) if I acquire XYZ super wonderful survivor stock should I need to get in to nuc mode or should the acquired hives survive just fine allowing me to maintain my hive count? I am primarily concerned about surviving mites and Nosema. AFB is not a problem near me (knock on wood.)
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,785

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    I believe we also need to look at the manner in which failure occurred. Was it a continuous down hill slide, or was there an initial dip followed by a steady rise, and then a crash, caused by reasons possibly not treatment related? We have recently seen weather issues that are more serious than mite issues. CCD kills treatment free as well as treated, so there is another non-treatment related issue.

    Crazy Roland

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    How long would an operation have to be treatment free before one could call it a success?

    What's your opinion?

    Adam

    What a fantastic question.

    Whatever the answers, I think it recognizes a significant point: The issue of delayed feedback.


    Given the amount of variables at play, it would be difficult to give a definite answer.

    For myself, I'd want to know that someone had good winter survival for at least two winters after going TF - Only then would I be curious to find out more details, such as their survival rate, and where in the TF spectrum their practice lies.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    How long would an operation have to be treatment free before one could call it a success?
    Which one? I consider myself a success. Some others don't. I've been doing it for nearly ten years and for the past several, each has been better, more fun, more productive, and more educational than the last.

    Adam, it's just too much of a subjective question. It seems to me you could define failure better. I define it as having lost all your hives.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    I'll tell you what:
    If my bees are still seeming strong two years from now, I'm going to feel successful.

    It seems to me that mites run an annual cycle, just like the bees. Once you get through a complete couple of seasons, I'd call that successful. Why would you need to go longer than that?

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,085

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Well, you wouldn't stop, would you?
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  11. #31
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Well, you wouldn't stop, would you?
    No, I wouldn't.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,000

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Honey Householder on this board is treatment free because he sells off his bees in fall and starts over in spring. He is constantly markets product on this board. Is his TF method successful?
    I lose a lot of my bees every winter and start over from bait catches, also mite treatment free since 2007. I also run at a suitable profit to keep going year after year. I did treat for some EFB, and fed a bit to new swarms.

    We both are profitable being treatment free. Are our TF methods a success?

    We both restock with bees that probably have been treated. So if everybody went treatment free, probably our methods would not be sustainable.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,808

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Once you get through a complete couple of seasons, I'd call that successful. Why would you need to go longer than that?
    You are assuming that all of your losses would occur after "a couple of seasons." What if you are wrong? What if it takes 5 seasons, or 8 seasons, before the mites take their full tole on the bees? What if in year 6 you have a beekeeper move next door who doesn't treat, and all his hives crash from mites, and those mites end up invading your hives? Your hives may be able to deal with an average amount of mites, but can they deal with an abnormal amount of mites?

    It's not over till its over. Saying you "had a successful life" means that your life is over. You can still fail in the last day.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    You are assuming that all of your losses would occur after "a couple of seasons." What if you are wrong? What if it takes 5 seasons, or 8 seasons, before the mites take their full tole on the bees? ...

    It's not over till its over. Saying you "had a successful life" means that your life is over. You can still fail in the last day.
    After a year, all the bees you started with, other than the queen will have died and new bees will have taken their place. Mite's don't build up endlessly, but are connected to the seasonal rise and fall of the bee brood. So after a couple of years, you've seen the complete cycle. The mites don't just endlessly build in numbers, as they have to have bees to live on. 8 seasons? By that time, the mites and bees you started with are all long gone. You're likely on your third or forth queen by then.

    "Ain't over til it's over"? That might make sense from a biographer's standpoint, but agriculture is a seasonal pursuit. One season can boom, and the next bust. And everything is on a cycle. If we're talking about the success of keeping bees without treatments, then I feel like that should be measured on a seasonal cycle. After that, the question is how many seasons does it take to sufficiently test a method?

    In the case of mites, we have to think about their life cycles and measures of success (health and well-being), the bees life cycles and measures of success, and then our own goals and objectives as well. If I winter my bees treatment free, then build up next season, have a solid harvest of honey and successfully winter again (meaning my colonies are still strong and able to build up strong), then I'm pretty unlikely to treat that Fall.

    Even if the mites get strong again the following season, I'm hard-pressed not to go back to treating, because for all intents and purposes, those are by then different bees.

    Adam

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dexter, Missouri USA
    Posts
    96

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    My survival rates went up when i quit treating. I also did a complete stock change, which im sure affected the numbers. I was using your average commercial queens, and was displeased with the results. I started researching more, collecting more feral, and raising my own queens from II'd breeders. I consider my venture thus far a success. But as any beekeeping operation, I could take a complete beating next year. Apiculture is Agriculture. We take on a lot of variables and associated risk.
    Last edited by Whitetail; 12-04-2012 at 07:33 PM. Reason: Spelling

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,076

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Well, you might take a beating, but a lot of the II queens are part of properly run breeding programs selecting for varroa resistance traits, so your chances are better than average.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dexter, Missouri USA
    Posts
    96

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    I agree Oldtimer. I've utilized USDA VSH breeders for years. Those open mated with an array of "survivor" lines make a pretty solid bee. I only offer them nutrition. I do micromanage them at times. If a hive or queen is failing or not up to spec (shows signs of brood disease or PMS) they get requeened with select stock. Seems to be working.......

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    United States Chico CA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    John Kefuss has been doing this for a while and 2012 he has lost 50% of his hives.
    Treatment free has a price tag.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Dexter, Missouri USA
    Posts
    96

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    Don't think for a minute that treating doesn't also carry a "pricetag." I'm sure a majority of beeswax products are contaminated with coumaphos and or fluvalinate. Both chemicals are proven to have an array of sublethal effects, most I'm sure we haven't figured out yet. Even soft treatments have sublethal effects on bees. Treating also has some, and or exclusive responsibility in the breeding of chemical resistant mite strains. There is a reason Universities and high level breeders are breeding stock that can survive without running on the pharmaceutical treadmill. Sustainability and logical long term solutions are the ultimate goal.

    The gentleman mentioned previously could have had bees with meager stores going into winter. There are a vast array of variables leading to their demise. It's not always because they were not treated.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    968

    Default Re: How long do you have to be TF before its a success?

    I'd say how long it takes is as variable as the climate, management practices and strains of bees involved.

    The fact that it can be done is well established b/c many (among them Kirk Webster, deknow, and myself) are doing it.
    I don't think the "if" is the subject of this thread though.

    As soon as a guy is accomplishing what he wants to with his bees with a mortality rate from all causes that is acceptable to him, he'll know how long it takes.


    Since what he wants to accomplish and what is an acceptable mortality rate varies from beekeeper to beekeeper, and the conditions in which he keeps his bees vary from location to location, the only real answer is:

    Just until he succeeds.

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