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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    I have been talking with people on the "Brother Adam" thread, and I realized it had wandered too far from the hypothetical, to my specific interests. So I thought I'd begin anew here.

    I have 13 colonies of bees. I would like to be treatment free, but fully understand that goal to be a difficult challenge and I am certainly aware of the great controversy that surrounds how to get there.

    I would like to maintain a sustainable population of bees; raise my own queens and not have to buy new bees every year. In another thread on a similar subject a while back, Mike Palmer suggested that one would really need around 100 colonies to be sustainable, saying that you'd need those numbers to select from and to handle the ups and downs without collapsing, and to be able to maintain your genetic program (he did not use these words - I'm summarizing my understanding of his post).

    Anyway, I have 100 colonies as my goal. I am planning to a lot of nucs; probably 3/4 of my total in the future.
    Right now, I have:

    4 Queens from three different local beekeepers - all from within 1 hour of my home. Each has been raising queens here for at least a decade.
    3 Queens from walk away splits from those queens
    5 Buckfast Queens from Bill Ferguson in Ontario
    1 Queen which I got with a swarm in early June. I'm assuming by the timing that this queen has overwintered at least once here.

    Right now, 6 of my colonies are overwintering nucs.

    There are several beekeepers in within a few miles of me, but I do not believe any of them has more than a couple of hives. Many of them would have queens from the same local beekeepers as the ones I have came from. The rest would be some of the annual import from Hawaii. Some of those come from Kona, and I think they brought some in from Big Island as well.

    How would you recommend that I proceed in reaching my goals? Should I attempt to bring in a particular stock? Should I 'deepen the pool' and add the bees of other breeders? Or should I just work with what I have?

    What are some of your thoughts?

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Id work with what you have.

    Whats your reasons for going treatment free? There are alot of treatment options other than chemical. Also there are alot of management options to help control varroa. If your idea is to raise bees and live off bees, your going to have to treat and manage your diseases. There is no way around that.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    I think everyone would like to go treatment free, wouldn't they?

    I've used oxalic vapor and drone comb removal. And will do what I have to do to make it work. But I've never tried treatment free, and figure it's better to try it sooner - while I don't have many colonies - than to try it later, when I have so much more at stake.

    On the other hand, I feel that if I am running a lot of nucs, and splitting a lot, the the brood breaks should stem the tide of mites to some degree as well. I'm certainly not against anyone else's methods, and I love to hear about them. I'm just trying to find the best one for me and my own bees.

    Adam

  4. #4
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    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Deleted. repeat.
    Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 11-28-2012 at 01:14 AM.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Yes, everyone would if it was possible and if it were just as easy as figuring breeding will solve the whole issue. Breeding has focused on this problem for quite a while, and we have yet to find anything that satisfies the problem.

    We take bees out of their natural environment, we take them pretty much where ever we choose to raise them, we manage them in workable frames and manipulate their growth to manage production from them, we feed them to manage growth and to prevent starving, we move them to flowering fields and into conditions more suitable during durths, we wrap them up or move them to help manage the winter, we choose the breeding selections for them to bring in traits and characteristics more suitable to our needs,
    So when it comes to disease control, why would we not treat to control the disease pressures? Everything else we do to manage the hives is not natural or normal for the bees,.?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Libertytown, MD, USA
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    134

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    My reasoning for wanting to do so would be that there is nothing in your second paragraph with any potential to harm my health, but that can't be said across the board for disease treatment. Better safe than sorry, or in this case better safe and sorry.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,245

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    How would you recommend that I proceed in reaching my goals? Should I attempt to bring in a particular stock? Should I 'deepen the pool' and add the bees of other breeders? Or should I just work with what I have?
    Patience Grasshopper.

    This is a long term project and nothing you're going to accomplish overnight...or in a year or in five. You need to build up your numbers, learn successful queen rearing, bring in other stocks to incorporate with yours. Change over the drone population in your area, and select and select and select.

    You have all the parts of the puzzle...the options have been given in answers to all your questions. Get out there and do it...and have your failures and successes. Two steps forward and one step back...or...

    Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,539

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Listen to Michael.....he is a wise man.

    I understand your frustration....you want to do things "right". you can ask and read all you want...but the true learning is when you are in the field by yourself, making decisions based upon what you know......and late at night when you are second guessing everything you have done.

    Deknow

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,273

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    there you are adam, and straight from the masters' keyboards. i believe you are asking all the right questions and have a good idea of where you want to go.

    i'm not sold on treatment free for the reasons ian laid out. on the other hand, i will do my best to propagate bees that require little to none.

    justusflynns, beware of eating raw honey, it contains formic and other organic acids.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    why or how does controlling disease create any potential harm to our health?
    now not treating sick animals does create huge health problems

    Quote Originally Posted by justusflynns View Post
    My reasoning for wanting to do so would be that there is nothing in your second paragraph with any potential to harm my health, but that can't be said across the board for disease treatment. Better safe than sorry, or in this case better safe and sorry.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    waynesboro va USA
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    24

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    im sure a lot of people dont view flying insects in the same light as dogs and cats. and rightly so

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    alot of people don't understand food production and the reason why we keep our stock healthy, be it four legged animals or flying bugs
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    waynesboro va USA
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    what do they not understand?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
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    625

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Adam,

    I've found keeping very detailed records pretty well shows me my mistakes and which colony/queens are actually doing best in my area and for my management.

    One of the great benifits of being treatment free is that queen selection actually becomes much easier.


    Like you I'm at that growing stage with lots of questions (40 hives wanting to get to 500).


    Don

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Quote Originally Posted by nada View Post
    what do they not understand?
    the need to keep stock healthy and consequences otherwise
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Adam,

    One of the great benifits of being treatment free is that queen selection actually becomes much easier.


    Don
    I think there is a wide spectrum of what beekeepers consider treatment free as being,
    Adam, for the purpose of your question, what do you consider treatment free?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Libertytown, MD, USA
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    134

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    1) Using known carcinogens in something you plan to gather food from.
    2) Not if they are culled.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    waynesboro va USA
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    24

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    the need to keep stock healthy and consequences otherwise
    what are the known consequences of attempting to develop disease free honeybees?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Dexter,MO,USA
    Posts
    106

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    I like the idea of following Mother nature.

    http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/misc/darwin.htm

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,682

    Default Re: Here is Where I'm At - How Do You Suggest I Move Forward?

    Adam,

    I don't think you need that many colonies. Introduce lines that have traits you want time to time to keep your diversity around. It really depends on what other drones are around too, if you think it's scant you can boost your drone counts with various methods and have dedicated drone mothers with different backgrounds if you want to keep desirable traits around. Just keep in mind like people are saying, it's something you work up too and it's good to set goals but keep them flexible. I think it just really comes down to taking queen data, evaluating hives for behaviors/traits you like and making sure you keep those stocks around while bringing in outside genetics in time to time to keep hybridity at a reasonable level. I would say with 10-15 good breeding hives you'd be set for a small-medium sized operation. Grafting and screening from those you could easily add 20-30 production hives a year just selecting 2 good daughter queens from each.
    Last edited by JRG13; 11-28-2012 at 12:02 PM. Reason: spelling

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