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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    434

    Default How to begin TF from day zero?

    Hello, all. I am in the early phases of planning for my first hive. So far I have done quite a lot of reading (print and online), and will be taking my first class at the end of January. I've also begun to meet with a few local folk who keep bees. Simply put, I am about as new as one can get......maybe even newer.

    I would like to begin with a treatment-free approach, and to maintain it. At this stage I am mostly wanting to know if there are some choices to be made early on that are not easily reversed later (other than treating, that is), such as:

    1) Hive construction (style, size): Is this a factor in maintaining a TF colony? I am thinking about starting with 8- or 10-frame
    2) Stock: What type of bees should I consider? Note: I am not made of money.
    3) Location: Does hive location play a role? I have sun/shade and clay/topsoil to choose from.

    I know that there are many more choices to be made in the longer term, but these seem to me to be the ones that might need an answer sooner. Can you provide any advice, based on experience, that I should consider?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Pete

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    I don't think hive type has any correlation, but I would go with a screen bottom board. Set hive in full sun which will reduce varroa and Small Hive Beetles irrespective of any other factors. Stock? I'm not sure. I have yet to trust the small cell idea and my feeble attempts at regression have not produced anything worthwhile. I like the feral stock I catch in my area. Genetic testing of these ferals reveals a nice genetic variety/diversity. It's hard to argue against breeding queens from these locally adapted bees that can rise above my ineptitude and incompetance (most guys call them "survivors").
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,800

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    In my opinion the size and style of box has no relationship to being treatment free, even though the topbar and Warre folks might say so. Wood is wood, a box is a box. A screened bottom board might help, but in my experience they offer no advantage in saving bees from mites. You should avoid contaminated foundation to get a 100% clean poison free start. Local swarms have worked for me. More sunnier and more clay soils might reduce SHB. I go into winter with double the queens I want in spring. Nucs with locally mated, young, late summer queens survive much better than those with older queens.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    I started with All medium frames and am glad I did. It is nice to be able to move any frame anywhere you want. I have some queens comming from B Weaver this spring, I have been told if you want trearment free bees, you have to start with treatmeant free bees. It is very hard to buy bees that have been treated, and then just go cold turkey with them. You will loose alot of bees. I think their queens were $30 a piece shipped, most people are getting $25 a queen. I think the extra $5 is worth it, although I have heard that their bees can get hot. I hope I get lucky with that. I have also heard that Purvis has good treatment free queens. Which would probably be better bees for you, since you are in Ohio. Oh yeah if you want to be treatment free, you have to resist all urges to put anything in your hives, except bees. There is no such thing as being 95 percent treatment free. Steve
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Genola, Ut
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    Split Split Split... In your research look into nucleus hives. The more you split and the less packages you have to buy the healthier your bees will be. I always find that the splits I start myself are always healthier than replacing dead-outs with packages.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    625

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    I would try to find out from other local beekeepers or the exterminators in your area if they get swarm calls and start with those bees if they are available.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,682

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    8 frame mediums would be a good start. When the mites come calling good luck. Have a plan to manage them if your bees can't. You may luck out and have low pressure naturally. Other than that you will have to select for hives that cope with mites along with IPM methods (brood breaks, splits etc....)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    . I go into winter with double the queens I want in spring.
    Not to derail the topic, but what's your logic in doing this?

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,268

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    location can be a big factor.

    have a water source close enough to that the bees don't have to expend extra time and energy.

    find a place with a relatively unobscured southeasterly exposure, and a good wind break to the northwest.

    up on a slope is better than a deep 'frost pocket'.

    morning sun with late afternoon shade works good in my clime.

    the more 'natural' acreage the better, i.e. wooded areas, unmanaged fields, lot's of weeds and brush, ect.

    swarm traps are a good way to get free bees.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Otsego County, New York, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    The best advice I can give you is to be prepared for a world of hurt. Expect losses. You WILL be tempted to treat your bees when your bees begin dying - when you open a hive and there are no bees inside - when bees from healthy hives rob the dead-outs and bring back an extra mite load, and unknown viruses. You'll start to think something like, "Well, if I do 'this', will I still be treatment free?" But if you get past this, you'll be stronger and more imaginative. I speak from my own experiences and temptations.

    I don't treat. Period. I don't feed sugar syrup anymore either. I just leave my bees more honey than I think they'll need. I could always take some of that honey when the winter is over. A good friend in the Adirondacks with a rather large operation, doesn't treat either. We both replace our losses with splits, cut-outs, and swarm captures. I'm beginning to see a few colonies that have survived more than three years. It makes me smile. I feel I'm working with the scheme of things and letting evolution take its course. All things reach a dynamic equilibrium. It's the nature of things. It takes time and lots of patience on our part. But most of us on this list feel this way anyway.

    If you are going to sell your honey and you are treatment free, you can get top price. In New York City, TF honey goes for $20/lb at the farmers' markets. I sell mine locally for $12/lb. If I were to sell in NYC, I'd charge $20/lb also.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,268

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    >when bees from healthy hives rob the dead-outs and bring back an extra mite load, and unknown viruses......

    pete, i would encourage you to have a responsible plan in place to prevent your hive from becoming so weak as to become a 'source' (via robbing) of mites and viruses to other healthy nearby colonies.

    >You WILL be tempted to treat your bees when your bees begin dying......

    if you don't treat, the problem must be dealt with in a responsible way.

    2sox, how do you keep your dying hives from becoming the source of diseases and pests to other bees?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,800

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant View Post
    Not to derail the topic, but what's your logic in doing this?Grant
    Treatment free for me means that half or more of my hives die every winter. If I have double the amount I want in spring going into winter, I still end up with some viable hives in spring. And a lot of good material for bait hives.

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