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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    459

    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
    5,041

    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
    876

    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
    649

    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
    3,048

    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
    4,941

    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
    4,941

    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
    Jun 2011
    Location
    brownwood, TX, USA
    Posts
    862

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    If you freeze your frames for three days, will it kill any mites and their eggs.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,625

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    No need to freeze for mites. Just the absence of bees for a day will take care of that problem. Freezing will definitely eliminate shb and wax moth problems.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,041

    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.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Otsego County, New York, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    Squarepeg,

    how do you keep your dying hives from becoming the source of diseases and pests to other bees?

    The only way I know of to solve this problem is not to have a congested yard - not to have hives too close
    together. This past fall, I had a domino effect and lost three hives in that many weeks because of this. If my spacing was better, this might not have happened. "Might" is the key word here.

    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. - Odfrank


    And I agree with Odfrank here. I've been fairly lucky - having only about a 20% loss - but I always expect more. This is what we have to expect if we go TF.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,941

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    thanks 2sox.

    (and i don't want to derail pete's inquiry here.)

    i do wonder though, did you observe robbing as they collapsed?

    did you have some way of keeping other people's bees and 'feral' bees from getting to your colonies as they died out?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,941

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    for pete's sake....

    if anyone wants to pick up the conversation about what to do with dying hives, there have been some great replies already posted here:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...52-dying-hives
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Otsego County, New York, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    Squarepeg,

    I observed robbing but at first I did not equate it with a dying colony. Thought they were trying to get some crushed honeycomb I was feeding this hive on top of the inner cover. (Smelled it through the vented super with screens that I have on top of it.) I just put a robbing screen on. I caught on a few days later.

    A week later, at another hive I observed too many yellow jackets and black flies hanging about the entrance and that was the giveaway. Opened it up. Nothing inside.

    Third one went down before I even turned around - so to speak. The damage was done. My other hives were just too strong to succumb.

    Two of these were from cut outs and were building up strongly enough for me to take a little honey. I had great hopes for both. One was established for three years and this surprised me too..

    Robbing screens are one of the best beekeeping inventions ever. They work for what they are intended. The next best invention is the double screen board. Once you use one of these, you'll never do a newspaper combine again.

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

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    Follow Grants advice on hive design and placement. Order stock from a treatment free operation. Someone mentioned Purvis, they are awesome to deal with, and have good stock. B Weaver probably is too, but I've heard complaints about aggressive tendencies. Probably because they have some African influence/exposure. I would get them from a source as far North as possible. Preferably local if you can find one. Requeen at the first sign of trouble...... This will keep your hives from getting in bad shape, and being "tempted" to treat. You don't have to expect huge losses. I haven't treated in years, and have had a winter survival rate of almost 99%. Beekeeping is a gamble treatment free or not. Lots of variables. Keeps things interesting.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: How to begin TF from day zero?

    the main thing you can do is stack the odds in your favor as much as possible
    start with queens bred for a awhile by treatment free keepers/breeders
    start with as many hives as you reasonably can...there will be losses. Nucs are a great way to have back up resources (numbers) without large or multiple yards, and are in themselves somewhat more "resistant" to mites, although resistant is not the best word...resilient maybe?

    most things can be changed as you go(if you have live bees to work with)...genetics-requeen, hive numbers-split, ect
    If you were going to work with small cell it is probably easier to start out that way than to transition later.
    good luck

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